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The land of extremes.

Diverse and impressive yet enchanting landscapes characterize New Zealand, as well as its comfortable, friendly cities and wealth of things to see and do. Although two islands, New Zealand is quite small and relatively simple to navigate by car.

That said, it is a volcanic island, home to many mountains, as well as winding roads and few highways. When planning journeys, it is always worthwhile tacking a little extra onto the estimated journey time to allow you plenty of opportunity to pull over and enjoy the view, for there are many opportunities! During the winter months, mountains passes can be difficult to traverse due to snow and ice and in some cases, snow chains may be required.

With so much to see up and down the country, driving is certainly the best way to get around and uncover this scenic treasure chest.

Read our New Zealand travel guide. You may also like to view information about popular destinations in New Zealand.

Tips for driving in New Zealand

Driving licence

A UK paper driving licence is only valid when accompanied by photographic proof of identity, e.g. passport.

Which side of the road do they drive on?

Drive on the left, overtake on the right. You must give way to the right at all times.

Bus lanes are usually painted green and cars should not drive in this lane unless road signs dictate it is ok to do so.

Seat belts

If fitted, seat belts must be worn at all times by all occupants of the vehicle.

Blood alcohol limit

The blood alcohol limit is 80mg alcohol per 100ml of blood and this is strictly enforced.

Drivers aged 20 or under will be subjected to a blood alcohol limit of 30mg alcohol per 100ml of blood.

Can I use a mobile?

It’s illegal to use a mobile unless you have a hands-free kit.

Do I need winter tyres or snow chains?

In winter some roads may be treacherous due to ice or snow, particularly around mountain passes and snow chains may be required.

Parking

Unless in a one-way street, do not stop or park on the right hand side of the road.

On the spot fines

The police are authorised to issues fines for offences such as speeding but cannot collect the payment. You will be given an infringement notice which explains how and where to pay the fine.

What should I do if I breakdown?

If you breakdown, call the supplier who will be able to advise you further.

It is recommended you contact ourselves at the same time to ensure you follow the correct procedure.

What should I do if I have an accident?

If you’re in an accident, you MUST notify the Police and the car rental provider and get an accident report for insurance purposes. Failure to do so may result in you footing the whole bill. It is recommended that you contact the supplier and ourselves at the same time to ensure you follow the correct procedure.

Toll roads

There are a few toll roads in New Zealand, most notably the Northern Gateway Toll Road and the Tauranga Eastern Link.

Current toll roads in New Zealand

SH1: Silverdale to Pūhoi

SH2: Pāpāmoa to Paengaroa

SH29: AKA Takitimu Drive or Route K, it bypasses Tauranga to SH2

Driving distances

Auckland to Tauranga – 201km (2hrs 30mins)

Auckland to Wellington – 637km (7hrs 45mins)

Auckland to Napier – 415km (4hrs 55mins)

Wellington to Rotorua – 452km (5hrs 25mins)

Wellington to Napier – 315km (4hrs)

Christchurch to Dunedin – 361km (4hrs 30mins)

Christchurch to Invercargill – 566km (7hrs)

Christchurch to Queenstown – 484km (5hrs 45mins)