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New Zealand – Driving

New Zealand is a popular destination for tourists and expats alike. If you’re planning to drive in New Zealand, it’s important to be aware of the local driving rules and regulations. In this article, we’ll cover road safety, required equipment, road accident protocols, driving rules, road signs, traffic lights, traffic info resources, and parking rules.

Road Safety in New Zealand

Road safety is a top priority in New Zealand. The country has made significant progress in reducing the number of road accidents and fatalities over the years. However, there are still some challenges, particularly in rural areas where roads can be narrow and winding.

The quality of roads in New Zealand is generally good, with well-maintained highways and well-signposted roads. However, drivers should be aware of potential hazards such as sharp corners, steep drops, and changing weather conditions.

Local driving standards in New Zealand are generally high. Drivers are expected to be courteous and follow the rules of the road. Speeding and dangerous driving are taken seriously by the police, and heavy fines can be imposed for breaking the rules.

Required Equipment

When driving in New Zealand, there are certain items that you must carry in your car. These include:

  • Spare tyre: You must carry a spare tyre and the necessary tools to change it.
  • Warning triangle: You must carry a warning triangle and use it in the event of an accident or breakdown.
  • Reflective vest: You must carry a reflective vest and wear it when outside your vehicle on a public road.

Road Accidents

In the event of a road accident in New Zealand, drivers are required to follow certain protocols. If anyone is injured or there is damage to property, you must stop and offer assistance. You should also contact the police and exchange details with the other driver.


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If you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident, you should report it to the police immediately. Failure to stop at the scene of an accident is a criminal offense in New Zealand.

Driving Rules

When driving in New Zealand, there are certain rules that you need to follow. These include:

  • Drive on the left side of the road: In New Zealand, you must drive on the left-hand side of the road.
  • Give way to the right: When approaching an intersection, you must give way to traffic coming from your right, unless otherwise indicated.
  • Stick to the speed limits: The speed limit in built-up areas is 50 km/h, on rural roads 100 km/h, and on motorways 100 km/h.
  • Don’t use your phone while driving: It’s illegal to use your phone while driving, even if you’re using a hands-free device.

It’s also important to be aware of cyclists when driving in New Zealand. Cyclists are a common sight on New Zealand roads, particularly in urban areas. Drivers must give way to cyclists and ensure that they don’t endanger them.

Road Signs and Traffic Lights

Road signs in New Zealand are clear and easy to understand. Here are some of the most important ones to look out for:

  • Stop sign: This is a red octagon with the word “STOP” written in white letters.
  • Give way sign: This is a red triangle with a white border and the words “GIVE WAY” written in white letters.
  • No entry sign: This is a red circle with a white border and a black diagonal line.

Traffic lights in New Zealand follow the standard red, amber, and green sequence. However, there are some unique aspects to New Zealand traffic lights. For example, some lights have a flashing yellow arrow to indicate that you can turn left if it’s safe to do so.

Traffic Info Resources

If you’re driving in New Zealand, it’s important to stay up-to-date with traffic information. The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) provides a range of resources to help drivers stay informed:

  • NZTA website: The NZTA website provides up-to-date information on road works, traffic incidents, and travel times. You can also plan your journey and check for any road closures or detours.
  • NZTA social media: The NZTA is active on social media and provides regular updates on road conditions, traffic incidents, and weather alerts.
  • Traffic and Travel app: The NZTA also has a Traffic and Travel app, which provides real-time traffic information, including travel times, road closures, and detours.

Parking Rules

Parking in New Zealand can be challenging, particularly in urban areas with high populations of expats. Here are some useful rules to keep in mind:

  • Paid parking: In many cities and towns, you must pay for parking on the street. You can pay at a ticket machine or via a mobile app.
  • Parking permits: In some areas, you need a parking permit to park on the street. These permits are issued by the local council and are often only available to residents.
  • Disabled parking: Blue disabled parking cards are recognized in New Zealand. These cards allow drivers to park in disabled spaces and on street parking for free.

If you’re an expat living in New Zealand, it’s important to check the local parking rules and regulations in your area. Some areas may have specific parking restrictions or rules, such as time limits or resident-only parking.

In conclusion, driving in New Zealand can be a safe and enjoyable experience if you follow the rules and stay informed. Make sure you have the necessary equipment in your car, follow the local driving standards, and be aware of potential hazards on the roads. Stay up-to-date with traffic information, and be mindful of parking rules, particularly in areas with high populations of expats. By doing so, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery and vibrant culture of New Zealand without any hiccups.


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