New Zealand is such a beautiful country full of many remote landscapes and sweet local towns.
One of the best ways to travel around New Zealand is by car, because it is small enough that you could drive the length in just a few days, and it gives you the freedom to get to harder-to-reach places where buses and trains don’t go.
However, there is a down side. There has been a lot of news and publicity around the dangers of foreign visitors – in 2015 there were a number of road deaths which involved foreign drivers.
Some reasons for this can include not being familiar with New Zealand road rules, forgetting which side of the road to drive on, dangerous winding mountain roads, and sleepy drivers.
We want to make sure that all of our guests are safe – both for themselves, and the safety of other road users – so here are some tips for staying safe on New Zealand’s roads if you wish to drive.
Know the Road Rules
- Make sure you understand the NZ Road Code
- The AA also have a Visitor Driver Training Programme online, which you can take in 5 languages.
- Remember in New Zealand we drive on the left hand side of the road, and our vehicles seat the driver on the right.
Research the areas you are going and the types of roads you’ll drive on
- New Zealand’s diverse landscape means many roads are narrow, hilly and windy with sharp corners. Outside of the main cities, there are very few motorways - most of our roads are single lane in each direction with no barriers in between. There are also gravel roads, one-lane bridges and roadworks. Make sure to allow plenty of time, go slow and pull over in a safe place if you need to.
- Download an app like Waze for the best local traffic and trip planning
Stay safe, and within the law
- In New Zealand, it is illegal to drink alcohol and drive or use a cellphone while driving. Everyone in the car must be wearing safety belts, and adhere to the speed limits wherever you are.
- Never stop to take photos unless it’s a designated stopping zone (no matter how beautiful the scenery is!)
- Be informed of changes in rules, for example around Public Holidays such as Christmas, the tolerance for driving over the speed limit is lessened and you are more likely to incur a fine for speeding.
- Only drive warranted, road-safe cars to ensure that both you, and other road users, stay safe
For more information, you can read the full NZTA Guide for Overseas Drivers