Driving in New Zealand is different to driving in other countries. What do you need to know before getting behind the wheel?

Exploring New Zealand’s beautiful landscapes by car, campervan or motorhome is a popular way to get around. Even if you’re used to driving in other places, you need to be well aware of things like weather extremes, narrow, windy roads and different road rules before you begin on your journey.

What’s different about driving in New Zealand?

We drive on the left hand side of the road and our vehicles seat the driver on the right.
Always drive on the left hand side of the road in New Zealand. If you’re used to driving on the right hand side of the road, this can be a challenge to remember especially when pulling out into traffic. Remember - if you are driving, you must be seated in the middle of the road – your front seat passenger will be the on edge of the road.

Never drive when you are tired and take regular breaks.
It doesn’t matter what country you are driving in, it is extremely dangerous to drive when you are tired. Visitors to New Zealand might be tired because of jet-lag, early starts and late nights, or because they had a long day driving the day before. Because driving in New Zealand can be very different to other countries, you need to be well-rested and alert – tired drivers are dangerous drivers.

Many roads have varying conditions, and can be narrow, windy and cover hilly terrain.

New Zealand’s diverse terrain means roads are often narrow, hilly and windy with plenty of sharp corners. Outside of the main cities, there are very few motorways. Most of our roads are single lane in each direction without barriers in between. You may also encounter gravel roads. It’s important to allow plenty of time, go slow and pull over in a safe place if traffic wants to pass from behind you. Take plenty of breaks so that you stay alert.

It’s easy to underestimate drive times when looking at a map.
Maps don’t show how narrow and windy roads can be. What might look like a short trip can take a long time. For example: Hokitika to the town of Haast, a popular drive for visitors stopping to see New Zealand’s glaciers, is 278km (172mi) on the map and may look like a short 3-hour drive. However, drivers should allow for up to 4 hours’ of driving time because of the windy road. This is common all over New Zealand –always allow for more time than you think you’ll need. 

Weather-related hazards are commonplace.

In New Zealand, you might experience four seasons in one day. It’s possible to start your day off with blue sky and sunshine, but arrive at your destination in rain and hail. Because of this, weather related hazards on the road can occur at any time. Always check the weather forecast before departing, and adjust your plans accordingly. If you’re driving in the South Island in winter, spring or late autumn, snow is a possibility – ensure that you’re carrying chains if a cold snap has been forecast. Most rental companies will provide you with chains and demonstrate how to fit them. Read our winter driving tips.

Winter roads can be treacherous.
Snow, ice and fog can be common in winter, especially in the South Island and around mountain passes. Ensure you’re clued up on the weather forecast for the region that you’re driving in, leave large following distances and make sure you’re travelling with snow chains (and know how to fit them).

Not all New Zealand rail crossings have automatic alarms.
Only half of the 1500 rail crossings in New Zealand have automatic alarms. When red lights are flashing it means a train is coming so stop and only proceed once the lights have stopped flashing. Other crossings have a ‘Railway Crossing’ sign and give way or stop signs only. If you see this, stop, look both ways and only cross the track if there are no trains approaching.

In addition to the above, it's a good idea to get familiar with important New Zealand road rules before your arrival.

  • 只有超面积才应该付出成本。根据跟下的逻辑立锥之地也应付钱。 2019-05-19
  • 如实引用原帖文的是君子,篡改原帖文的不是人.......... 2019-05-17
  • 金融战,贸易战,是看不见硝烟的战争,但代价同样是惨烈的。面对强敌,奉陪到底,打好这场事关国运之战。 2019-05-13
  • 故宫建国后险被拆 为给群众留反面教材而幸免 2019-05-13
  • 端午话诗词,感悟习近平眼中的优秀传统文化 2019-05-10
  • 广州端午假期揽客近600万人次 旅游收入37.48亿 2019-05-06
  • 牢记历史使命 投身农村基层 在打赢脱贫攻坚战中展示新作为 2019-05-04
  • 中国妇女网 喜迎十九大 2019-05-04
  • 林安梧:书院需要多元包容 读经也一样别无限上纲 2019-04-23
  • 工商总局:严惩网络交易违法失信行为 惩戒期线下重点监管 2019-04-23
  • “头部内容收割机”金城:文娱投资难以忽视的真相与逻辑 2019-04-22
  • ——客观唯心主义哲学思想的幸福感和不幸福感则是:人的主观臆断的欲望能否在“神”的制约中满足“好”的感觉。“幸福”就是在“神”的制约中满足了人的主观臆断的欲望而达 2019-04-20
  • 高清:创意十足!杭州萌娃毕业照留下成长足迹 2019-04-20
  • 机关党建工作巡礼——江西“实干兴赣当先锋、为民服务作表率”主题实践活动 2019-04-19
  • 湖州市启动新一轮大学生“千人实习计划” 2019-04-19
  • 817| 454| 872| 683| 985| 755| 889| 314| 531| 806|