New Zealand's roads are of a generally high standard and the main roads are all sealed. All roads, including those in rural locations, are signposted.
Here is a few tips for safe driving on New Zealand road, for more information please see the NZ Transport Agency website.
Although New Zealand is a relatively small country it can take many hours to drive between cities and other destinations of interest. Even when distances are short, hilly or winding terrain or narrow secondary roads can slow your journey.
The speed limit is 100km/h on the open road, 70 km/h on outskirts of towns and 50km/h in urban areas. You will find multi-lane motorways and expressways on the approaches to the larger cities, with most roads being dual carriageways. Signposting follows standard international symbols and all distances are in kilometres (km). 98% of New Zealand roads are single lane roads in each direction.
- Helmets for riders of motorbikes must be worn at all times.
- Motorbikes should drive with a headlight on at all times.
- Keep Left.
- Drive on the left side of the road.
- Exceptions - One way streets.
Keep Left. REMEMBER to remain on the left hand side when returning to the road after parking or pulling over to a stop. Note in New Zealand you always have to park in the direction you are travelling, ie on the left hand side of the road.
Traffic from the direction of the RED Arrow Gives Way, however if you are travelling from the direction of the black arrow you should Proceed with Caution.
Always indicate a minimum 3 seconds prior to turning. Always obey the traffic lights, signs and arrows marked on the road. If turning give way to all traffic not turning. Give way to all traffic crossing or approaching from your right. American and Canadian visitors: you cannot turn left when the stop light at an intersection is red.
Going straight through?
When going straight through an intersection, you must give way to: ALL VEHICLES COMING STRAIGHT THROUGH FROM YOUR RIGHT.
Turning left at an uncontrolled intersection?
When turning left at an intersection, you must give way to all vehicles coming straight through from your right and all vehicles coming towards you and turning right.
Turning right at an uncontrolled intersection?
When turning right at an intersection, you must give way to all vehicles coming straight through from your left, all vehicles coming straight through from your right, all vehicles coming straight towards you, and all right turning vehicles coming from your right.
Two Vehicles coming towards each other and turning right?
When two vehicles are coming towards each other at an intersection and both are turning right, NO ONE HAS TO GIVE WAY. This is because neither vehicle will cross the other's path. Both vehicles can therefore turn safely.
When the traffic light is red, you must stop. There is no left turn rule as in North America. The amber traffic light means stop unless you are so close to the intersection you can't stop safely.
If you are leaving the path of the center line, you must give way to vehicles following the center line. Vehicles leaving the path of the center line are said to be turning. Therefore the GIVE WAY rules apply.
For more information please refer to the New Zealand Road Code at www.nzta.govt.nz.
New Zealand Drivers License Requirements
You can legally drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months if you have either a current driver's licence from your home country or an International Driving Permit (IDP). After 12 months you are required to convert to a New Zealand licence. This applies to each visit to New Zealand.
In New Zealand all drivers, including visitors from other countries, must carry their licence or permit at all times when driving. You will only be able to drive the same types of vehicles you are licensed to drive in your home country. It is important that your driving licence clearly shows you are licensed to drive a motorcycle.
Make sure your driver's licence is current. If your licence is not in English, you must bring an English translation with you or obtain an international driving permit from your country of residence.
It is important to note that if you are caught driving without an acceptable English translation or an international driving permit, you may be prosecuted for driving unlicensed or for driving without an appropriate licence and will be liable for an infringement fee of NZ$400 or up to NZ$1,000 on conviction in court.
The Police also have the power to forbid an unlicensed driver to drive until they have an appropriate licence. If you continue to drive after being forbidden, the vehicle you are driving will be impounded for 28 days, at the vehicle owner's expense. You may also risk not being covered by your insurance in the event of a crash.