Staying safe on our roads

Our industry has an important role to play in informing overseas visitors about New Zealand driving conditions. From partnering with tourism bodies to developing codes of practice, the RVA works to ensure all drivers enjoy their journeys and stay safe on New Zealand roads.

We have also collated a set of useful resources you can share with visitors, below.

Driving in New Zealand can be very different to driving at home.

With world class scenery at every turn, a self-drive holiday is a great way to enjoy all that New Zealand has to offer. As you set about planning your journey, there are a few things that you’ll need to know about driving here.

One that’s particularly important is that we drive on the left-hand side of the road here. While visitors from the UK or Japan, say, might feel right at home, if you’re from a country that drives on the right it might take a bit of getting used to. It’s easy to revert to established habits, so take a moment every time you set off to remind yourself to keep left.

Other differences concern the roads themselves. Some are narrow, twisty and have loose gravel. With so much agriculture, it’s not unusual to see sheep or cattle on roads in rural areas. Motorways and dual carriageways are few and far between so you need to give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.

Even if you have driven in other countries, it’s important to understand New Zealand’s road rules and signs before you get behind the wheel here. We’ve put together the key things to consider when planning your trip and as you make your journey around the country.

 

Essential rules and important tips

New Zealand Police is committed to keeping the country’s roads safe. We want you to enjoy your visit, feel safe and be safe. Find out more about our driving rules, get advice on how to stay safe in your vehicle, what to do if you break down and tips on preventing vehicle theft.
 

Click here to view the official ‘DriveSafe’ flyer, containing a summary of New Zealand’s most important road rules.
 

How driving in New Zealand is different

Several things might seem unfamiliar when driving in New Zealand. The What’s Different About Driving in New Zealand guide offers a useful overview, available for download in English, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Samoan, Tongan, Arabic, Thai and other languages.
 

The risk of driver fatigue and how to avoid it

Many fatal car crashes are caused when people drive while tired. It’s important to take regular rest stops while driving around New Zealand: distances can be large and there are hardly any motorways. Check out these tips to avoid driver fatigue, such as recognising the warning signs and getting a good night’s sleep before driving.

Real-time highway conditions

Stay up-to-date on traffic and travel information throughout your journey, including the latest highway conditions, warnings about delays and disruptions, or detours along your planned route. It’s also a great idea to plan your journey in advance.

About New Zealand speed limits

Excessive speed is one of the greatest dangers on New Zealand roads. Learn more about New Zealand speed limits, safe speed guidelines, compulsory speed signs, variable speed limits, and additional road safety signs.

Driving in bad weather

The weather can be very changeable in New Zealand. Rain, snow, ice and fog can be encountered even in summer. Driving in bad weather provides helpful information on visibility, appropriate speed and when to use fog lights.

Safer Winter Driving

Planning a ski trip, or a holiday in New Zealand during our winter (June to August)? Read more about Safer Winter Driving, with tips on assessing the conditions, driving to the conditions, and staying safe on the roads.

Information for Chinese visitors

A great way to familiarise yourself with NZ driving rules is to take this road code quiz put together by the AA. Don’t worry if you get a question wrong: you can try again until you get the right answer. And get some great advice from NZ Police about driving in New Zealand here.

New Zealand Driving Test

Test your New Zealand driving skills using this Visiting Driver Training Programme developed by AA. It has been designed for international visitors who want to be sure they understand the road rules and the typical road conditions they will experience in New Zealand. The state of the art interactive video presents 15 different situations to assess your knowledge and understanding of driving in New Zealand. Don't worry if you get it wrong, you can try again until you reach the correct answer.

Rental companies adhering to the code of practice

Many New Zealand rental vehicle companies have signed up to a code of practice aimed at improving the safety of local and visiting drivers.  Find out which companies have committed to the code.