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driving in new zealand

Scenic Alpine RoadNew Zealand's tourist routes are of a generally high standard and the main roads are sealed and traffic density is pleasantly light. Most of the best routes have been named and comprehensively signposted, so there's little chance of getting lost.

Remember to drive on the left!

licences and permits

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).

Recent law changes mean all drivers, including visitors from other countries, must carry their licence or permit when driving. You will only be able to drive the same types of vehicles you are licensed to drive in your home country. The common legal age to rent a car in New Zealand is 25 years.

Make sure your driver's licence is current. If your licence is not in English, you should bring an English translation with you or obtain an IDP.

road rules

CampervanNew Zealander's drive on the left hand side of the road. Maximum speed limits in towns and cities are 50 km/h (30mph) and 100 km/h (60mph) on the open road, unless signs indicate alternative speeds. Speed cameras are operating throughout New Zealand.

Strict drink-driving laws apply, with random breath testing carried out at any time. Please note that all insurance is invalid if the driver of the vehicle exceeds the legal alcohol limit (currently 0.8gm alcohol per litre of blood).
Seatbelts must be worn by ALL occupants of the vehicle at all times. By law all children under five years of age must use an infant or child car seat. Car seats are available for hire from car companies.

All companies reserve the right to charge the renter for any traffic infringement notices (e.g. parking or speeding fines, etc.) that may be sent by the New Zealand Police.

fuel prices

Petrol in New Zealand comes in leaded and unleaded grades and is sold by the litre. Petrol is sold between NZ$1.00 and NZ$1.20, diesel approximately NZ60 cents per litre (estimated May 2003). Petrol stations are plentiful, but trading hours vary. Most Petrol stations will accept major international credit cards. All cars run on unleaded petrol, while most of the 4-WD vehicles and minibuses and campervans have a diesel engine.

driving distance & time chart

We have included a distance and time chart to help you calculate your journey. These distances have been measured in kilometres(km), over highways and major roads not necessarily by the shortest route. Times are in hours and minutes, and are approximates only.

north island travel distances and times

509/8.20 Gisborne
126/1.55 400/6.30 Hamilton
235/3.35 291/4.50 109/1.40 Rotorua
279/4.05 334/5.25 153/2.10 80/1.20 Taupo
210/3.20 299/5.00 108/1.55 86/1.30 163/2.35 Tauranga
647/9.15 534/8.15 521/7.30 460/6.30 380/5.10 545/8.00 Wellington
241/4.15 739/12.35 368/6.10 474/7.50 518/8.20 445/7.35 898/13.30 Paihia

south island travel distances and times

361/5.00 Dunedin
771/11.35 410/6.35 Milford
330/4.45 319/4.35 578/8.55 Mt Cook
417/6.20 799/11.20 1145/16.10 747/11.10 Nelson
487/7.15 281/4.25 307/5.05 271/3.50 850/15.00 Queenstown
650/9.15 289/4.15 121/2.20 426/6.35 1024/13.50 166/2.45 Te Anau
428/6.30 276/4.20 366/6.55 212/3.05 779/13.10 71/1.50 245/4.35 Wanaka
321/4.35 683/9.35 1092/16.10 651/9.20 117/1.45 808/11.50 971/13.50 749/11.05 Blenheim

To convert these distances to Miles use the following calculation: Kilometres x .625 = Miles

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