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Driving Tips - New Zealand

Drivers in New Zealand don’t have to know much about the country to realise that it is large, and that means big distances between towns and cities. The best way to truly appreciate the landscapes within this beautiful and natural part of the world is to drive, but of course, for foreign visitors, this can throw up all manner of questions and new rules to follow.

Let’s make it easy.


Drivers must have a valid license from their country of origin, and are able to drive for a maximum of 12 months from the date of arrival into the country. If the license is not in English, then an accurate translation called International Driver Permit (IDP) should be obtained and carried at all times. If you leave the country, and then return, your 12 months’ driving period resets itself. Also, it is a must to carry insurance while driving a rented car.

Age restrictions

The legal age of driving within New Zealand is now 16 years of age, and this applies to both natives and visitors.

Driving law

  • Drive on the left hand side of the road
  • Everyone in the car should wear a seatbelt
  • Children should always be in the back of the car
  • Do not overtake when there are yellow lines
  • Always carry license while driving
  • Always use indicator while turning
  • Mobile phones should not be used
  • Illegal to carry radar detectors

Speed limits

New Zealand’s roads are controlled with speed limits, which are monitored with plentiful speed cameras. If you are caught over the limit, it is possible that your license could be suspended on the spot for a period of time. The normal speed limits on New Zealand roads are as follows:

  • 100km/h (62mph) on highways
  • 50 km/h (31pmh) in residential areas

Of course, if signs instruct differently, then this should be adhered to taking particular care in rural or residential areas.

Drunk driving

New Zealand police are very strict with drinking and driving, and this is enforced with severe penalties for those who are caught. The drivers having blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of more than 0.08mg/100ml will be fined and might be arrested.


Parking within residential areas or city/town centres are clearly marked with regards to rules, and drivers should follow any instructions. Illegal parking is monitored and tickets/fines are given out. Only park in designated parking spaces, and these will more than likely be controlled by a meter, with pay and display the usual method. You must park on your side of the road, and not opposite the flow. If you see a sign saying ‘no parking’, don’t park as you could be spot fined.

As you can see, driving around New Zealand is quite standard, except for a few changes to rules. Be sure to familiarise yourself before you travel, and heed any signs or advice during your journey, and your road-trip throughout this beautiful, diverse country will be a memorable one indeed.

Auckland Driving Guide – SPEND LESS, DO MORE

Auckland is as big and busy as it gets in New Zealand. Aside from the city sites of the Sky Tower and a sea of skyscrapers, harbour and bustling foreshores, there is a wealth of intriguing places to visit just a short drive away.

So if you have plans to rent a car in Auckland, we suggest that you take some time aside to drive out of this grand metropolis and into the surrounding lands.  You won’t be disappointed.

We picked some favourite drives handpicked by the locals.

Tawharanui Regional Park

About 90 kms or just over an hours’ drive from Auckland on a narrow peninsula, this coastal regional park has lots to see with native animals, plants and spectacular views across to Kawau Island.

When you arrive expect to see rare bellbirds, kereru and kaka that are becoming plentiful in this area again.

Along the way through Matakana, you might want to plan a stop at one of the cafes as there are no areas to buy food in the park itself.

West Coast Scenic Drive

A three hour round trip from Titirangi to Swanson will take you through the Waitakere Ranges, with some some of the best views of Auckland and its bays. We recommend that if you want to get the most out of this you save it for a clear day.

Along the way you may also see two narrow gauge tramlines called the Rainforest Express and the Waitakere Tramline.

Awhitu Peninsula

Only one and a half hours from the centre of Auckland you will find yourself in a truly rural setting with plenty of beaches, narrow roads and spectacular views alongside the mighty Tasman Sea on the west side, and the calm waters of Manukau on the east side.

When you get there we recommend that you jump out of your rental car and head up to the renovated lighthouse. There are a number of other things to when you get there like visiting the grounds of the historic Brooks Homestead just up the road from Kauritutahi Beach with its wharf. If you’re looking for something more relaxing you could just set your picnic out and take in the scenery.


A 40km windy drive from Auckland’s CBD will have you on one of the wildest and most deserted beaches on the West Coast.   Along the way, take in the luscious dairy farmland scenery.

When you get there we suggest you walk northwards along the beach to the caves renowned for their incredible acoustics used by bands for performances.

At Cheaperthancars and Cheaperthanhotels we have a large range of deals and discounts on rental cars and accommodation. We believe that when you spend less you really will have more to do with the savings when you get there.

Your Cheaperthancars Team

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