Safe Driving in New Zealand


Self-driving holidays are one of the most relaxing ways of enjoying New Zealand’s landscape. Many of our roads are scenic and traffic is low compared to other countries. It’s important that your road trip in New Zealand is both a safe and enjoyable one. Before setting off you should visit and go through the Drive Safe website to ensure that you feel comfortable with New Zealand road rules. If you feel nervous about driving in New Zealand because of the new conditions, or feel that you don’t have enough experience or confidence then perhaps reconsider whether a self-drive holiday is suitable for you. However, if you’re an experienced, safe and confident driver and know what to expect about driving in New Zealand then that’s great! Before setting off you should test yourself on to ensure that you understand all the different road signs and rules.

Safe & enjoyable journeys in New Zealand

It is important not to underestimate driving times. Although distances may seem short, our roads often include hilly or winding terrain, which slow down your journey. If you’re used to driving in the city, you should take care when driving on the open country roads. Check the weather conditions before you set off. In New Zealand the roads can get icy or covered in snow at certain times of the year where you may require snow chains on your wheels. Drive to the conditions you’re in, if it’s raining, icy, snowy or windy you’ll need to reduce your speed.

  • In New Zealand , all motorists drive on the left-hand side of the road
  • All road distances are measured in kilometres
  • When turning left, give way (yield) to traffic crossing or approaching from your right
  • When the traffic light is red, you must stop. There is no left turn rule as in North America
  • The speed limit on the open road is 100km/h (approx 60m/h). In urban areas the speed limit is 50km/h. Keep an eye on the speed limit signs
  • Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times, in both front and rear seats
  • Do not use your mobile whilst driving. It is dangerous and illegal to do so in New Zealand
  • Make sure that you have plenty of sleep before a long drive. Take regular breaks – one every two hours and when you feel sleepy
  • Do not drink alcohol before driving in New Zealand – drinking and driving laws are strictly enforced
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Ensure that your driving licence is valid in New Zealand. International drivers’ licenses and any current (and full) English language licenses are accepted. If you’re licence isn’t in English and you don’t have an international licence, then you will need to get your existing one translated. Visit to find out the New Zealand governments requirements for driver’s licence translation. Transnational offer a NZ certified license translation service. You can contact them on and they will arrange to get your license translated and sent back to you via email.


To find a driving route for your New Zealand holiday, please visit the following website. Maybe you know where you want to go, maybe you don’t. In either case, your best-fit driving route is only a few clicks away.

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