Driving Tips & Rules
Now you have selected and collected your New Zealand rental car from our base in Auckland you are ready to explore our amazing country. There may be some differences in the laws and the general way we drive here compared to your home country so here are a few pointers to make your experience as safe as possible. Your car rental experience should be stress-free so if you are at all unsure about anything please feel free to ask one of our staff members.
A safety booklet is available when you collect your hire car, please ask if it is not in your pack. Make sure you have a safe and enjoyable journey.
We drive on the left side of the road
GIVING WAY AT INTERSECTIONS
When you arrive at an intersection and you need to make a turn, please give way to all vehicles that are not turning, follow any traffic signals instructions and always use your indicator.
NO LEFT TURN ON RED
In New Zealand, you may not turn left at an intersection when the traffic signals are red. Sometimes, even if you are turning at traffic signals you may find pedestrians on the road, please give way to them.
HAND-HELD MOBILE PHONES
Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is illegal.
Drivers must not use a hand-held mobile phone when driving unless the device is completely hands-free or mounted securely to the vehicle, even then, the devices should only be touched infrequently and briefly. Writing, reading or sending text messages on a mobile phone while driving is also illegal. Nothing is more important than your safety and that of other road users, please wait until you are safely stopped before dealing with messages.
It’s easy to underestimate travelling times in New Zealand.
Distances may seem short on paper, but New Zealand roads may be narrower than you’re used to, cover hilly terrain and vary from motorways (freeways) to unsealed gravel roads. If your rental car is going to be used on road types such as rough, or dirt roads please ask us for advice on vehicle type before booking.
We want you and the hire car to come back to us safely, so please take extra care on longer or overnight journeys. If you’re tired you’re much more likely to have a crash. Here are some tips to help you stay alert.
- Get plenty of rest before a long drive.
- Take a break from driving every two hours.
- If possible, share the driving with someone else.
- Avoid large meals and drink plenty of fluid.
- If you begin to feel sleepy, stop at a safe place and try to have a short nap for up to 40 minutes.
- If you’re feeling very tired, find a place to stay overnight.
Speed limit signs show the maximum speed you can travel and are strictly enforced. At times you may need to drive at slower speeds due to road, weather or traffic conditions. Different speed limits apply throughout New Zealand – look out for the speed limit signs.
Your hire car is fitted with safety belts that are required by law to be worn. If you get stopped you could get fined so always ensure you and any passengers are secured.
ALCOHOL AND DRUGS
Don’t drive your rental vehicle under the influence of drink or drugs – the laws against this are strictly enforced in New Zealand, and the penalties are severe.
DRIVER LICENCE REQUIREMENTS
You must have your current and valid driver licence or driver permit with you at all times when you’re driving. If your overseas licence or driver permit is not in English, you must also carry an accurate English translation issued by:
- A translation service approved by the NZ Transport Agency (a list is available at www.nzta.govt.nz/licence/residents-visitors/translators.html), or
- A diplomatic representative at a high commission, embassy or consulate, or
- The authority that issued your overseas licence.
An International Driving Permit (issued in accordance with a United Nations Convention on Road Traffic) is acceptable as a translation.
- Provided your overseas driver licence or driver permit remains current and valid, you can drive for a maximum period of 12 months from the date you arrive in New Zealand. Each time you arrive in New Zealand you can drive for a further 12-month period.
- After 12 months, if you wish to continue driving in New Zealand, you must obtain a New Zealand driver licence.
Cyclists have the same rights as drivers on New Zealand roads. Always slow down near cyclists, pass slowly and only when safe, and try to leave a space of 1.5 metres. Indicate in plenty of time and respect cycle lanes.
A number of roads in New Zealand have one-lane bridges where vehicles travelling in one direction must give way to vehicles going in the other direction.
Any of the signs below show that you are approaching a one-lane bridge. Slow down and check for traffic coming the other way. The smaller red arrow shows which direction has to give way.
ANIMALS ON THE ROAD
UNSEALED (GRAVEL) ROADS
In New Zealand, you can be fined or towed away for parallel parking on the wrong side of the road. You may only park in the direction of traffic flow on your side of the road (i:e on the left side) unless it is a one-way street.
Only half of New Zealand’s 1500 public rail crossings have automatic alarms. If red lights are flashing, stop and only proceed once the lights have stopped flashing.
Other crossings have Railway Crossing and Give Way or Stop signs only. When you see a Stop sign at a crossing, stop and only cross the track if there are no trains approaching. When you see a Give Way sign, slow down and be ready to stop and only cross the track if there are no trains approaching.
FURTHER SAFETY INFORMATION
If you’d like more information, please contact the NZ Transport Agency. You can also read New Zealand’s road code which covers all New Zealand’s traffic rules.
50 Victoria Street
Private Bag 6995
Tel: +64 4 894 5400
FREE PHONE NUMBERS
0800 108 809
(Motor Vehicle Registration)
0800 822 422