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Guide to safe driving

New Zealand is blessed with a well maintained and very scenic road network. But there are a few things you need to know to ensure you enjoy a safe New Zealand driving experience.

Understanding local road rules and driving conditions will make your time on our roads more enjoyable.

Driving Times and Distances

The distances we have quoted in your itinerary are approximate and based on the most direct route. The driving times quoted are based on an average of 80 kph without stops. In many cases you will take longer to travel the distances quoted. Particularly, if you want to enjoy the scenery or explore a little more! Don't underestimate the times and distances.

Seat Belts

Seat Belts save lives. By law, everyone in the vehicle (front and back seats) must use a seat belt or approved child restraint.

Keep Left

Drive on the left at all times. On multi-lane highways, keep to the far left (slower) lane, particularly after overtaking.

Speed Limits

On the open road, the maximum speed limit is 100 kilometers per hour. In cities and towns, the maximum is 50 kilometers per hour. Exceptions occur, for example around road works, so be alert for signs (on the left of the road) that tell you to lower your speed.

Road Signs

STOP - You must stop, and then give way to traffic approaching from the right or left.

GIVE WAY - Slow down; Stop if traffic is approaching from right or left, and give way to all traffic including those opposite if you are turning left.

No Passing Lines

You must not pass another moving vehicle where a solid yellow line appears on your side of the center line.

Passing Lanes

On the open road, be patient and wait for passing lanes, which make it easy and safe to pass slow vehicles.

Courteous Driving

You may be unfamiliar with the roads or simply in no rush at all. Don't hold up other traffic as this can cause other drivers to take risks. When and only when it is safe to do so just pull off the road to allow other cars to pass.


On a motorway you must not:

Walk or cycle

Stop your vehicle (unless in an emergency)

Make a U Turn

Always indicate for at least 3 seconds before changing lanes. If you need to make an emergency stop, signal your intention and stop your vehicle as far as practicable to the left. Turn on your warning lights until help arrives.

Country Driving

Country roads may have hidden dangers. Be on the look out for loose stones, ice and single-lane bridges. When you reach a scenic attraction, don't drive and look at the same time. Never stop on a corner, no matter how tempting the view. In a country with 40 million sheep, look out for livestock being herded along the roads, proceed very slowly.

Speed Cameras & Random Breath Testing


Random breath testing is carried out and heavy penalties apply for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Speed Cameras produce an automatic fine, which is your responsibility as the vehicle renter.

What to do in an Accident

Stop and check if anyone has been injured. Give all the practical help you can and call an ambulance.

If Police Officers have not attended the accident, and injury is involved, you must contact the Police within 24 hours.

If the accident involves damage to property (e.g. a farmer's fence) and the owners cannot be located, contact the Police within 48 hours Fill in an Accident Report Form. Include the name, address, vehicle registration number and insurance company of any other person involved. For your protection, you should not admit liability under any circumstances. Immediately notify the rental car company.