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Driving in New Zealand

An overview for immigrants and visitors about driving in New Zealand.

What you need to know to drive in
New Zealand

Please watch the video before you start to drive in New Zealand.

Source: "drivesafe.org.nz".

Traffic rules

  • Keep left

    Always drive on the left side of the road. Some narrow roads don't have centre line markings to guide you.

  • Pedestrians first

    Drivers must watch for pedestrians crossing the road, particularly at pedestrian (or zebra) crossings and intersections.

    Always slow down near cyclists. Pass slowly and only when safe, and try to leave a space of 1.5 metres.

    If you see animals on the road, slow down and proceed carefully. Do not sound your horn.

  • Driving speeds

    The speed limits on New Zealand roads vary - look for speed limit signs. You'll often need to go slower than the limit to drive on our roads safely. That means a 100km distance will seldom equal one hour of driving. It will usually take a lot longer, so always allow more time when planning your trip.

    On many of New Zealand's main rural roads, the speed limit is 100km/h unless a sign says a different speed applies.

    In urban areas, the speed limit is usually 50km/h unless a sign says otherwise.

    Yellow advisory speed signs warn that you are coming up to a tight curve or bend in the road and recommend a safe and comfortable driving speed. The arrows show which direction the curve goes.

  • Fasten Seat Belt

    By law, everyone in the vehicle must wear a seat belt or child restraint - whether they're in the front or back.

    TIPS: Children under 7: Approved child safety seats restraint

  • Parking

    In New Zealand, you can be fined or towed away for parking on the wrong side of the road, unless it is a one-way street, where you're allowed to park on either side of the road.

  • Stopping for police

    If police require you to stop your vehicle they will drive behind you and activate red and blue lights and a siren. You must pull over as soon as possible. Park your car off to the side of the road safely and wait in it for the police officer to approach you.

  • Mobile phones

    Drivers must not use a hand-held mobile phone when driving. If a phone is used it must be hands free. Texting on any mobile phone while driving is illegal.

  • Slow down

    Although New Zealand has good roads, speed is the greatest killer on them. It is important to keep your speed close to the speed limit but NOT above it. You also need to slow down depending on the conditions. New Zealand can have severe whether conditions, and you simply must slow down to avoid a crash.

  • Stop sign

    At a stop sign, you must come to a complete stop, then give way to all traffic.

  • Give Way Sign

    At a give way sign, you must give way to all traffic on the intersecting road. If turning, you must also give way to vehicles that are not turning.

  • Roundabouts

    At roundabouts, you must give way to traffic from your right. You must travel around the roundabout in a clockwise direction.

  • One-lane bridges

    Some roads in New Zealand have one-lane bridges where vehicles must stop and wait for vehicles coming from the other direction. Stop if you need to give way. The red (smaller) arrow shows which direction has to give way.

Driving in New Zealand booklet by NZ Transport Agency 2016

Note: The printed booklet [PDF, 2.4 MB] contains English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Arabic.