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Always drive on the left side of the road. Some narrow roads don’t have centre line markings to guide you. You must remember to keep left every time you drive, every time you come to an intersection and every time you pull out on to a road.; Drive in the left lane and do not cut corners; Do not cross the centre line unless safely passing or turning off the road.


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.


The speed limits on New Zealand roads vary – look for speed limit signs. They will let you know what the maximum speed limit is for the stretch of road you’re on. 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.


Some roads in New Zealand have one-lane bridges where vehicles must stop and wait for vehicles coming from the other direction. The signs below warn that there is a one-lane bridge ahead. Slow down and check for traffic coming the other way. Stop if you need to give way


If you’re tired you’re much more likely to have a crash. Get enough quality sleep before you drive, especially if you’ve just arrived in New Zealand after a long flight. Take a break from driving every two hours. If possible, share the driving with someone else. Avoid driving during the hours when you would normally be sleeping. If you begin to feel sleepy, stop at a safe place and try to have a short nap for 15-30 minutes. If you’re feeling very tired, find a place to stay overnight.


You must have your current and valid driver licence or driver permit with you at all times when you’re driving. If your overseas licence or permit is not in English, you must also carry an accurate English translation. After 12 months of living in New Zealand you must obtain a New Zealand driver licence.


You must be 21 years + to rent a car and sign the rental agreement. Valid driver license, passport and deposit needed.


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


Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs and then drive. Recreational drugs are illegal in New Zealand. For drivers under 20 years old there is a zero alcohol limit. For drivers aged 20 and over, the alcohol limit is 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood or 250 micrograms per litre of breath.


Most roads in New Zealand have a single lane each way, and some provide ‘passing lanes’ at regular intervals. ‘Passing lanes’ should be used where possible when overtaking, please be patient until you reach them.


Unsealed roads can be slippery to drive on. Keep left, reduce your speed, and slow down even further when approaching oncoming traffic as dust could obscure your vision and loose stones could chip your windscreen.


Weather conditions in New Zealand can change quickly so driving takes skill and concentration. Snow and ice can make roads even more hazardous, particularly around mountain passes. Rental vehicle companies will often supply snow chains if you’re likely to be driving in these conditions – make sure you know how to fit them before setting out.


If car accident happened, pull over and check out the injuries. Call emergency phone 111 (ambulance). The police must be noticed within 24 hours. If no one gets hurt, a notice/note be left to the owner and car rental company. Contact details and address are needed on the note. 

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