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Safe Driving Tips

Driving in New Zealand can be very different to driving at home.

We drive on the left-hand side of the road here, some of our roads are narrow, windy and have loose gravel… and it’s not unusual to see sheep or cattle on roads in rural areas. You need to give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination, and to understand New Zealand road rules and signs.
Bag End photo opportunity.

Even if you have driven in other countries, it’s important to understand our rules for driving in New Zealand before you get behind the wheel here. TIA and Drivesafe.org have put together the key things to consider when planning your trip and as you make your journey around the country.

  1. Keep LEFT! We drive on the left-hand side of the road.
  2. Always wear your seat belt. Everyone in your vehicle must wear a seatbelt, and children must be secured in an approved child seat. Your rental vehicle company can rent child seats to you if you didn’t bring your own.
  3. Keep to the speed limit and always stop at STOP signs.
  4. Always slow down to observe recommended speeds around bends and check for oncoming traffic on one-lane bridges.
  5. Overtake other vehicles only when it’s safe to do so. Use passing lanes whenever possible, and never cross a solid yellow line on your side of the centre line.
  6. Stay well-rested. Plan to drive for only 1 - 2 hours at a time, and take regular breaks during your journey to stretch your legs.
  7. Drive to the conditions. You’ll need to reduce your speed if it’s raining, icy, snowing, windy or if you’re in a roadworks area. Ask your accommodation provider if in doubt.
  8. Use this Driving Time and Distance Calculator or GPS to estimate driving times while planning your journey. Driving in New Zealand can often take longer than expected due to our winding roads.
  9. Do not drink and drive. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime in New Zealand and strictly enforced by police, with severe penalties for offenders.
  10. It’s illegal to use a mobile phone while driving in New Zealand. If you need to make a call or send a text, pull over at a rest area or in a safe place.

Etiquette & Safety tips

ETIQUETTE TIP

  • If you’re driving a campervan or motorhome during your New Zealand driving holiday and you have traffic backed up behind you, pull over as soon as you can safely do so to let other vehicles pass.

SAFETY TIPS

  • In case of emergency, contact Police, Fire or Ambulance by dialling 111.
  • Remember, it’s easy to underestimate New Zealand driving times. Take plenty of breaks and give yourself additional travel time to rest and stretch your legs.
  • Keep your eye on the weather conditions before each journey so you can drive to the conditions. Allow for extra New Zealand driving times where needed.

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