If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand from overseas, im sure you will be looking forward to collecting the keys to your hire car, hitting the road and making the most of the incredible vistas our beautiful country has to offer.
It may be a good idea to set some time aside to check out NZs road rules to ensure the smooth sailing of your holiday. The Drive Safe website has some great tips coupled with easy to follow pictures that cover the basics and will have you driving like a local.
We’ve also put our heads together and thought up a few pointers that will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable roady!
Google Maps – What did we ever do without google maps?! Unfortunately, it’s not so reliable for New Zealand roads. A prime example is Te Anau to Milford – whilst looks like a leisurely 1 hour 44-minute drive thanks to our friend Google. You’re really looking at a 2-hour 30-minute excursion. It pays to double check with your local information centre- or even better ask a friendly local in the street.
Highways – You may notice if you’re not in the big smoke, a “highway” consists of 1 lane heading in each direction. Take it slow and concentrate.
110km/h – This brings us to speed limits. New Zealand’s maximum speed limit is 100km/h. Don’t feel like it’s a target. With our blind bends and narrow roads, it’s best to take your time and drive at a speed you feel safe with.
Pulling over – If you notice a line of traffic building behind you, don’t stress. Wait until you can pull over safely and let them pass. Expect a few honks and waves of thanks from passing vehicles.
Pulling over. Part 2 – New Zealand is a truly beautiful country; we’re not even being bias! There will be mountain ranges, sheep and lakes to be photographed around every corner. Please, please, please make sure you have pulled over in a safe area, off the road before you start snapping photos.
Keep left – Fairly self-explanatory. We drive on the left side of the road. Keep a reminder in your vehicle, like a sign on the dash, if you think you might need it.
Take breaks – Roads in New Zealand can be long and windy, especially in the South Island there can be long distances between townships. Plan ahead and take regular breaks to fight fatigue.
Mobile Phones – It’s illegal to use your mobile phone while driving in New Zealand. Remove any temptation by turning it off or putting it away. If that’s too much too soon, try putting it on silent.
Weather – Take a look at the weather forecast before hitting the road. Especially if you are planning to adventure into any mountainous areas. The weather can change in a second. Whether it’s snow, wind or heavy rain. It pays to be prepared.
One lane bridges – Something you may notice as you make your way further south, we have plenty of one lane bridges. Keep your eye on traffic coming the other way and follow the give-way signs so you are aware who’s giving way to whom.
Gravel roads – Planning on heading off the beaten track? There are some beautiful but hidden parts of New Zealand that are only accessible by gravel roads. For anyone who is not used to driving on gravel, you will need to take it very slow. It is easier than you think to lose control.
Stop signs – It’s best if you do stop at stop signs, look both ways and be sure it is safe before you procced.
Seatbelts – “Make it click!” Always wear your seatbelt, you won’t regret it.
Our main piece of advice is to stay safe! If you don’t feel confident, hand over the driver’s seat or take a different route. Summer can be a very busy time on New Zealand roads with fellow kiwis as well as overseas visitors all heading away on holiday. Respect other drivers and respect New Zealand roads and you’ll be sure to have a blast as you venture through some of the best we have to offer. There is no better way to observe and appreciate this stunning piece of paradise we are lucky to call home.
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