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Driving in New Zealand

New Zealand is a beautiful country, best appreciated by road.

Some road rules you need to know before attempting to drive on New Zealand roads include:

  • You must drive on the left hand side of the road.
  • When turning, give way to all traffic that is not turning.
  • When the traffic light is red, you must stop. Green means go, and Orange means stop if you can do so safely.
  • The speed limit on the open road is 100 kilometres per hour (approx. 60 miles per hour).
  • The speed limit in urban areas is 50 kilometres per hour, unless otherwise signed.
  • If you are driving past a school during school hours, the speed limit is reduced to 40 kilometres per hour.
  • Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times, no matter which seat you are sitting in.
  • You must give way to pedestrians if they are crossing on a Pedestrian signal at traffic lights, or crossing on a Zebra crossing.
  • You must not stop on a Motorway.
  • You must carry your licence on you at all times when driving.

Other things to keep in mind include:

  • Drinking and driving is prohibited in New Zealand. You can find out more information on the ALAC website.
  • Distances are measured in kilometres, not miles in New Zealand.
  • Yellow speed signs in rural areas signify the safe speed to travel around the upcoming bend.
  • Most vehicles in New Zealand are required to hold a current WOF (Warrent of Fitness) and Registration to be allowed to drive on public roads. If the vehicle is diesel driven, it may be required to hold current RUCs(Road User Charges).
  • If you hire a car in New Zealand, ensure vehicle insurance is included. Otherwise you may be liable for all damages caused by you if you are involved in a car crash.
  • If you do not obey all the New Zealand road rules, and are involved in a crash, your insurance may not cover you.

Find out more about NZ Road Rules on the official New Zealand Transport website.

Motorcyclists and Cyclists

Here are some rules if you are biking around New Zealand:

  • You must wear a helmet at all times.
  • Front and rear lights must be working.
  • Standard driving rules and speed limits also apply to bikers.
  • It is illegal to cycle on a Motorway.
  • You are not allowed to bike on footpaths.
  • You must have a valid motorcycle licence to ride a motorcycle.

Driver's Licences

You must hold a valid drivers licence to drive on New Zealand roads.

If you have a current driver's licence from your home country, or an International Driving Permit (IDP), you are allowed to drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months.

If you don't hold a current driver's licence you can apply for a New Zealand driver's licence. Find out more on the NZ Transport Agency website.

Find out more about Safe Driving in New Zealand.

Did you Know?

Aoetaroa is the Māori name for New Zealand. It means ‘land of the long white cloud’.