New Zealand Car Rentals
Drink driving is dangerous and there are strict penalties for driving when under the influence. In New Zealand, the legal drink-drive limits for drivers 20 years and over are a breath alcohol limit of micrograms (mcg) of alcohol per litre of breath and a blood alcohol limit of 50mg of alcohol per ml of blood.
New Zealand. Free and always accurate driving directions, Google Maps, traffic information for New Zealand (NZ).Explore satellite of Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, on the Google Maps of Oceania below.. New Zealand (GPS: 41 00 S, 00 E) located in Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of politedriving.com country’s area .
Driving in New Zealand Travelling times. It’s easy to underestimate travelling times in New Zealand. Distances may seem short on the map but Keep left. Always drive on the left side of the road. Some narrow roads don’t have centre line markings to guide you. Overtaking (passing). roads in Estimated Reading Time: 8 mins.
Learning to drive? You’ll need to know the official NZ Road Code. We’ve got free video lessons, games and quizzes to help get your learner licence, restricted licence or full licence.
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Driving in New Zealand: Tips for your New Zealand Road Trip Driving in New Zealand: Tips for your New Zealand Road Trip. I am a pretty independent traveller, although sometimes I Car vs Campervan. One of the first decisions to make about your road trip in New Zealand is whether you will hire a Estimated Reading Time: 8 mins.
A Complete Guide to Driving In New Zealand
Thanks for supporting the work I put into TripTins! Entered a roundabout? Went on a one lane bridge? Dealt with twisty and curvy roads? Driving in New Zealand is no joke especially for foreign tourists who are not used to the intricacies that can be involved at some points while driving.
Before heading to New Zealand, I had read about countless accidents and sometimes fatal caused by tourists who are just not familiar with the driving rules. During my time there I witnessed one accident and spoke to another person who literally drove their car off a curvy road and down into a ditch. As you think about driving on the left, here are some pieces of information you should think about: A Always make sure as a driver that you are closest to the center of the road.
When driving on the left, the driver will be on the right-hand side of the car, and therefore closest to the center divider. If you continuously have this thought in mind, it will make driving easier and less stressful for you. This is similar to a right-hand turn in the US for example, when you look left and turn onto the right hand side. C When making a right-hand turn, you will need to make the wide turn onto the lefthand side of the road. Do not make the mistake to turn onto the righthand side of the road when turning right as you may be used to this is exactly what happened when I witnessed the accident.
Usually there will be three directions to go in when entering a roundabout — left, straight, or right. That means before you enter the roundabout always look right and make sure the path is clear. Only once all cars are clear from the right can you head into the roundabout. Turning Left: When turning left out of a roundabout, you will simply signal left and make the turn.
Going Straight: When going straight you will not need to signal initially but once you are in the roundabout halfway, you will then signal left and exit the roundabout straight in front of you. Turning Right: When turning right, you will signal at the roundabout right, continue the clockwise drive, and then signal left after you pass the halfway point of the roundabout. Also note that sometimes there will be multiple lanes entering the roundabout and on the road itself you will see arrows pointing in the direction that the lane will go.
So, if you are turning right at the roundabout, and there are two lanes with one of the lanes showing a right turn symbol, make sure to get into that one. For a visual representation of signals at roundabouts take a look at the images below courtesy of the NZTA. This simply means that there is only one lane for both ways of traffic to go through.
As you approach a one lane bridge there will be a few signs indicating that one is coming up soon. The sign will look similar to either of the below: The one on the right means that you have the right of way the larger arrow pointing away from you. The one on the left means the oncoming cars have the right of way the larger arrow pointing towards you.
If you have the right of way and if there is no one currently on the bridge coming towards you , you will be able to head onto the bridge as cars wait opposite of you. However, if you do not have the right of way, only once ALL CARS coming towards you have finished crossing the bridge, will you be able to go. Many of these bridges are pretty short, but there are some longer ones out there so just do be careful when entering the bridges either way.
This can get annoying if you have a slow car ahead of you or a fast car behind you. There simply is no way to pass or get passed at any moment. Similar in thought but different in execution. Passing Lanes Passing Lanes are utilized when you want to pass a car in front of you.
Basically, for a short amount of road, there will be a second lane introduced before merging back into one. So, if there is a slow car in front of you that you would like to pass, you will move into the right lane and pass the vehicle ahead of you before the two lanes merge back together.
Similarly, if there is a car that wants to pass you and you are not trying to pass a car in front of you , you will stay in the left lane and the car behind you will then pass you on the right. If there is a slow car in front of you and they know they are being slow with cars behind them , then hopefully they will be moving into the Slow Vehicle Bay so you can pass on the right.
At the end of the day if you are trying to get in front of the car directly ahead of you the main difference between the two is that for Passing Lanes you are making the move to pass another vehicle on the right, whereas with Slow Vehicle Bays the vehicle in front of you is making the move to the left so you can pass on the right and stay your course. In cities and smaller towns, it may be even lower. One thing to note is that there will be many times when you are on the highway going KMH and all of a sudden you will be entering a small town situated on the highway itself.
When this happens the speed limit usually drops considerably. Be aware in these situations as you might not even realize it. You will also come across plenty of twisty and curvy roads in New Zealand. When these come into play you may see signs saying speed limits as low as 25KPH. Those turns are super tight and you do not want to be going too fast around blind corners. No need to pay beforehand or put your credit card into the machine. Once you are finished filling up your tank, you then will head into the gas station convenience store and pay for your tank.
Be aware of this as you do not want to fill up your tank and completely forget to pay! One other gas station tip I have especially for those drivers who are coming from a country that drive on the right hand side of the road , is to try and add gas stations to your route that are on the left hand side of the road. By doing so, it is much simpler to pull in and out of the gas stations and not need to worry about crossing lanes of traffic.
Whenever I was taking a longer drive and knew I would need to fill up at some point, I would look at the route on Google Maps and then pinpoint a couple gas station options that were on the left hand side. A slip is basically when the rocks from above landslide onto the lanes of traffic blocking cars from getting past.
During my time on the South Island, there was one of the largest rainstorms in history to hit the West Coast. Not only that but it caused a bridge to collapse south of Franz Josef, completely blocking people from heading fully down the west coast for weeks. So just to be certain before you start a drive, check the New Zealand Road Closures website to make sure all is looking good.
Yes, it can be distracting at times so always keep your eyes on the road! These are places that are actually safe to pull over in with multiple spaces for cars. You see many people doing this for example on the Road to Mount Cook where there are several safe areas to pull over. If you do not want to bring the car onto the ferry or your rental company does not allow it, some companies also give you the option to drop off the car before you get on the ferry and then pick up a new car on the other side.
If you are bringing your car onto the ferry, you will need to book a ticket through one of the two companies — Bluebridge or Interislander. Some companies like Apex pay for your car ferry ticket as part of the rental price. Always be sure to make frequent breaks throughout and switch drivers if need be as well.
Like I mentioned earlier, on a longer drive I would always zoom into the map and pin point a couple gas stations or cafes along the route that I could easily pull into. By preparing beforehand I did not need to worry as much on the drive itself. The sun can be very strong in NZ and I had a fair share of drives heading directly into the sunlight — definitely be prepared with sunglasses to help out.
Similarly, I also had to drive in the rain at some points and it was not fun at all. Animals on the Road A couple quick notes regarding animals on the road. You may come across from time to time, herds of sheep or other cattle in the middle of the road. In these situations never honk or flash your lights at them.
Just go down to a very low speed and they should go right around you. Another thing to note is the large amount of roadkill out there. On nearly every drive I took I saw some type of dead animal on the ride so just be cautious as you drive. When this happens, they may close down one lane of traffic. Offline Maps On some of my drives, I came across points where I would stop for gas or a bite to eat but then not have cellular service to input the next destination. After this happened I ended up downloading offline maps for the region so I would not have that issue moving forward.
Driving Times Although some drives may not seem too long on the map itself, you will be surprised by how long it actually takes you. This is usually because many of the windy roads have much lower speed limits compared to what you would see on an open highway. With that said though, I usually found that the time it says on Google Maps to be pretty accurate as the app knows about these limits already. Just do not think because it looks like a short distance that it will take a short amount of time.
No Turn on Red I know this rule is different by country, state, city but in New Zealand you are not allowed to make a left-hand turn at a red light even if there is no traffic coming. This would be similar to a right-hand turn in the US for example, where in many places, if traffic is clear you can make the right-hand turn. In NZ though you cannot make the left hand turn so just wait for the green light. If you do take one you must pay the toll online for your car after the fact.
If you do not do so you may get hit with a ticket from your car rental company. Gravel Roads From time to time you will also come across gravel unpaved roads. Usually these will not last for too long but do be extra cautious when on them as the small rocks can pop up and scratch your vehicle and windows. Another thing to note here is that some unpaved roads such as the one from Glenorchy to the start of the Routeburn or the one to Raspberry Car Park for the Rob Roy Glacier Track , are restricted for some car rental companies.
I used Apex for my rental and they explicitly said in the contract I was not allowed to drive on these roads among a few others. Parking at hotels is at a premium or non existent in many major cities so before you head into one, have some sort of plan of where to park.
Also a quick note about parking on the road — always park on the left hand side of the road — you cannot just pull into a spot on the right hand side with your car opposite traffic. When it comes to car rental companies there are many to choose from so I will just list out some below to give you a better idea.
I went with Apex and had a flawless process. I know some others who went with Omega and have said the same. With them you might find newer cars with less miles but the price will be higher accordingly. With car rentals, many companies also allow you to pick up and drop off in different locations whether it be airport, city, ferry terminal etc. I would just advise to look through a few different companies and see the various offerings for each.
I hope that all of this info can get you better prepared for the roads of New Zealand so you can have a safe and stress-free time enjoying the country. If you have any questions feel free to write them in below. Take a look at the New Zealand guides and itineraries up on the site too!