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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.

Palmerston North Driving Guide – SPEND LESS, DO MORE

Palmerston North provides the visitor with all the space of a provincial city, coupled with the sophistication of museums, cafes and a compelling arts scene.

It is a student town, with the renowned Massey University adding to the international youth and vigour of the area, as well as home to the New Zealand Rugby Museum home to the passionate sport of this proud nation.

The city never rests with regular events keeping it alive and buzzing, from motor rev head festivals, to music creativity on the streets.

There is an internationally renowned theatre culture providing shows for all genres, with the local music beat thriving with a mix of both ‘underground’ venues for a wide range of varied tastes.

  • Palmerston North to Woodville via Manawatu Gorge
  • 25 min (27.2 km) to Woodville via Napier Rd and State Highway 3

This short trip out of Palmerston North is spectacular. It provides the only place in New Zealand where a river has begun its journey on the opposite side of a mountain range and cut through to the sea. The road takes you alongside that river, via the Manawatu Gorge. The natural vegetation around it is time preserved from an age dating back to pre history.

  • On the other side of the Gorge lies Woodville, a peaceful rural community where in the village you can stop for a snack or drink at one of the several cafes.
  • Palmerston North to Woodville via Saddle Road

28 min (24.2 km) to Woodville via State Highway 3 and Saddle Rd

This road takes you over Ruahine Range, which has windy sections before you descend into Woodville.  If you give yourself some extra time along the way, we suggest you make the climb to the Te Apiti Windfarm lookout with stunning views out over rolling fields and lush vegetation.

Here at Cheaperthancars and Cheaperthanhotels we believe that the less you spend on car rental and accommodation, the more you can do when you get there.

Your Cheaperthancars Team

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