New Zealand travel information Tourleader New Zealand

Special rules for driving in New Zealand

  • Always drive on the left side of the road. The most dangerous moments are when you start driving, when you leave a car park or when you approach a roundabout, especially when there is little traffic and when you’re tired.
  • Give way rules in New Zealand have changed on March 25 2012: they are the same as elsewhere now. If you see a weird rule about right turns then it's the old rule now out of effect.
  • Be careful at intersections and always watch out if other cars also get a green light when you do.
  • Never park on the right-hand side of the road except in a one-way-street.
  • Don’t confuse drivers with wrong signals on roundabouts. If going straight: only signal left before you leave the roundabout. If going left: signal left. If going right: signal right and then left before you leave the roundabout.
  • Speed limits are usually 50km/h in towns and 100km/h on open roads and motorways.
  • You can’t turn left at red traffic lights as in some other countries.
  • A yellow traffic light means you MUST stop, unless you are so close that you can't stop safely.
  • Don’t hurry truck drivers, heavy vehicles have a maximum speed limit of 90 km/h.
  • Seat belts are compulsory.
  • Careful overtaking on the left is permitted if there are two or more lanes in one direction.
  • No passing lanes are not completely off-limits, they can be crossed if it is safe enough, but for overtaking you need to have 100 metres of clear road ahead at any time.
  • Use of hand-held mobile phones is not permitted, neither is reading text messages.
  • All children under seven years of age must use an approved child restraint appropriate for their age and size (that can be a booster seat for taller children). Children aged seven must be secured in a restraint if one is available in the vehicle.
Turn right ruleParkingRoundabout

It's important to take these driving rules seriously, as nearly a third of all crashes in some South Island holiday destinations involve foreign drivers. Read more about this in Risks and dangers in New Zealand.


Source: see all the official driving rules in the Road Code from the New Zealand Transport Agency.

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