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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.

Queenstown Driving Guide – SPEND LESS, DO MORE

When you arrive in New Zealand’s south island town of Queenstown, the scenery is instantly recognizable.  Surrounded by majestic mountains and set on the shores of the crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, the place is set to allow you to enjoy anything from spectacular adventure to jaw dropping day trips into the surrounds.

When you have done all that you can in Queenstown, consider taking your rental car out onto the open road and experience freedom into some of the richest areas on the planet, only a short drive away. Here’s some ideas that we came up with to whet your appetite.

Journey to Glenorchy and Middle Earth

Just 45 minutes out from Queenstown is the small town of Glenorchy resting on the northern shores of Lake Wakatipu, with towering mountain ranges and a native beech forest behind it.

The Dart River provides the opportunity for jet boating and kayaking, and aside from the water there are numerous hiking trails and horse trekking excursions available

But this is a place like no other and was made famous for contributing many film scenes in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy as well as in the Nania movie.  Promptly described by actor (Gandalf) — Sir Ian McKellan on the subject of Paradise, “This is Middle Earth i had always pictured.

And these are not the only films shot here. Prince Caspian: The Return to Narni , The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and stacks of adverts use this place to dramatise their experiences for audiences.

Queenstown to Kingston

There are only a few towns outside of Queenstown, and this particular drive is one of the scenic specials around Lake Wakatipu.

Along the way, and only a few minutes out of town, we suggest that you take the turn off up to the Remarkables, where you can see spectacular views of Queenstown Airport, Frankton Arm and the mountains surrounding Queenstown.

Take some picnic gear with you and aim for one of the several places alongside the lake with benches to just sit, relax and breathe in fresh air and admire the vista.

At Cheaperthancars and Cheaperthanhotels we provide a wide range of deals and choices on rental cars and accommodation in and around Queenstown, so that you can spend less and do more when you get there. We really do want you to have the best time ever in Queenstown.

Your Cheaperthancars Team

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