Guide to a safe family driving holiday...
> In New Zealand we drive on the left, with the steering wheel on the right of the vehicle.
> If more than two cars are behind you - or even just one car if it has been there a while - please be courteous and pull over to let them pass you safely (just like you would do if you were walking slowly on a walking track). You will reduce accidents and make other drivers happy!
> If you do pull over onto the side of the road take care that you have a pull-in place. Otherwise the direct roadside (or verge) may be loose or unstable.
> New Zealand's roads are mostly sealed and well signposted, however they are not always engineered to the same standards found in other developed countries.
> The majority of rental cars are automatic and the majority of rental campervans or motorhomes are manual transmission (stick-shift), although automatics are becoming available.
> The highway network consists of SH-1 running the length of both islands, SH-2 to 5 and SH-10 to 58 in the North Island, and SH-6 to 8 and SH-60 to 99 in the South Island.
> There are very few motorways, expressways or dual-carriageways (only 3% of highways).
> The majority of the road network is open country road, single carriageway road with one (non-separated) lane each way, therefore they are used by cyclists, pedestrians and even farm animals.
> There are no/few bypasses so roads pass through small towns.
> When estimating journey times between towns, use 60km/h as an average speed, plus your rest stops.
> Weather extremes and mountain terrain require extra care.
> Overtaking on the open road generally requires moving into the lane for oncoming traffic. Tourists and other drivers may cause accidents in this way - you must be absolutely certain you have ample time and vision to complete an overtaking manoeuvre.
> Speed cameras are used in fixed positions, handheld by police officers and unmarked vehicles.
You can drive in New Zealand if you hold a driver licence from another country or an international driving permit (IDP) and:
• your overseas licence is current and valid, and
• you've not received a disqualification or suspension in New Zealand,
• your overseas licence is in English; if it's not, you must have an accurate translation, and
• you've not been granted a New Zealand driver licence.
All drivers must carry their license with them when driving.
> The open-road speed limit is 100km/h and the urban speed is 50km/h.
> Signposts follow the international standard and all distances and speeds are metric.
> All cyclists must wear safety helmets.
> There is no 'left-turn' rule at traffic lights as in North America.
> Seat belts are compulsory for everyone if they are fitted.
> Drug and alcohol laws are strictly enforced and random roadside testing is common.
Particular hazards you may encounter when driving in New Zealand include: logging trucks, roadside parking laws, turn-right rules, trams, snow and ice at any time of the year, railway crossings without barrier arms, land slips, drainage ditches alongside many open roads, single lane bridges, dual use bridges (combines road/rail in the same single-lane bridge), unsealed/gravel roads, farm stock, roadworks (not separated from vehicle traffic), mountain conditions, sun-strike and Limited Speed zones (LSZ) where the speed limit changes depending on the conditions.
Take the Quiz!
It's a tourist-specific New Zealand Road Code quiz that is fun, interactive and free! It's perfect for international visitors to familiarise themselves with NZ roads and where our rules and driving hazards may be different. Currently available in English, Spanish and German, with Japanese and Chinese versions coming soon. www.drivingtests.co.nz