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Driving in New Zealand

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Before you leave it is important to accustom yourself with the local culture, lifestyle, rules and regulations- The rules of the road are one of them! One of the first things on your list of “To Do’s” would be purchasing or renting a car to get around in. Read more for our more tips on where to buy a car and what to out look for!

Driving Need to Know

Here they drive on the left hand side of the road. But after that there are still a few things you need to know!

If you have a driving license obtained in another country you can drive in New Zealand for up to a year. If the international license is issued in language other than English, then the drivers are required to carry their license’s translation while driving in New Zealand. If you are looking to stay more than a year, then you should apply for the Kiwi driving license as soon as you arrive in the country to be on the safe side.

The minimum age in New Zealand to get a Learner’s driving license is 16 years. The full license can be obtained by going through a 3-step graduated driving system of New Zealand. Not got your license? Then click here for the link of how to pass your test in New Zealand. Its a timely process so we suggest passing your test in your home country to save you time and money when you get into NZ.

Drivers without a license are fined in New Zealand. ($55) Therefore, always carry your driving license with you.

The speed limit on the freeways is normally 100 km/hr which goes down to 80 km/hr and also at times to 50 km/hr where the roads are not much wide and/or smooth. Rules have also come into force that you can only go 1km over the speed limit, any more and they will stop you and fine you!

A Brief Insight into Driving Rules and Licensing

If you want to drive after your first 12 months in New Zealand you will need to convert your license to a full New Zealand license, no theory test or practical test is needed. However, don’t leave it too last minute as medical and eye tests may be asked of you! To convert your license to a full New Zealand license you need to have been driving in your previous country for up to 2 years, if you have been driving for less a practical and theory test would be required of you. It is also worth noting if you aren’t driving without a valid driving license, then you can be fined $55. We just converted our licenses to a NZ drivers license – it is now official!

Whilst we have been here we have found ourselves coming across the widespread discussion of certain people wanting/petitioning to change the rules for foreigners converting there license in a attempt to make there roads safer. Some petitions have been signed, essentially it seems that some people of NZ want to make it tougher to convert the license. Upon our research we have not found any evidence that the government are going to act upon this any time soon so for now the rules above are still the same.

The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) of New Zealand covers all drivers for all the personal injuries which let you drive without buying any road insurance. The road tax paid by the commuters actually covers them from road injuries provided by ACC. Apart from the advantages, one of the major drawbacks of this scheme is that it attracts the youngsters to drive fast as the learner’s license is issued to kids as young as 16 years!

Buying a Car

Buying a car is cost efficient if you are planning a long term stay in NZ, you may be keen to get shopping for a car as soon as possible. Make sure you do your research first on websites like Trade Me, and local newspapers to make sure you know the value of the car you are looking for. Ask a friend or a relatives advice as well they can be really helpful. But if you don’t have someone to help you check out our blog about where and how to shop for a car and our post on car insurance!

When buying a car check that the car was a current Warrant of Fitness (WOF) which is similar to a MOT over in the UK. WOF’s have to be conducted every six months in NZ and the dates are displayed on a sticker on the front of the car. Also check that the car is registered (just like road tax in the UK) this would also be displayed on the window screen. If you don’t have a friend or relative that knows about cars make sure you get the car fully inspected before you buy, (namely by the AA or VTNZ) this may be a extra cost you did not account for but if the car was to break down 2 weeks after purchasing it you would be kicking your self! This includes also checking if the car has not been reported stolen or that no money is owing on it – so make sure you visit Moterweb for car history checks they can be purchased instantly online!

And lastly make sure you register your ownership to the New Zealand Transport Agency (just like with the DVLA) the link is here, and do consider insurance even though insurance is not compulsory in New Zealand if you damage someone elses car you will be expected to pay for it!

Enjoy The Great Open Kiwi Road!

Enjoy The Great Open Kiwi Road!

Renting a Car

Renting a car in New Zealand is probably the most convenient option for you when you first arrive in the country. Check out our blog post on how to hire a car in New Zealand.

And if you love a good bargain, check out our post on Cheap Fuel and Petrol prices in NZ!