Driving in New Zealand


I am writing this post for the benefit of Mark, before I hand him the car! I have picked up a few subtle differences about driving in New Zealand, you wouldn’t immediately notice them because its the same, but different… If you follow?

I don’t think it would be as bad if I was in a country with entirely different road rules, but they drive on the left so you tend to assume its the same.

Subtle law differences

  • You MUST park facing the direction of traffic. It’s an offence to park facing the wrong way.
  • A dotted yellow line at the side of the road means you CANNOT park. Be careful, if you’re from the UK you might assume the opposite!
  • Traffic light sequence is different. It runs green, amber, red the same: but there’s no red/amber, it goes straight from red to green
  • Be careful with pedestrians – a pedestrian is given the green light to cross at the same time as traffic is given a green light to turn left, you must give way.
  • Do not sit in the centre of an intersection waiting for a gap to turn right – it’s against the law. You must wait at the line.
  • It’s an offence to not have your licence on you at all times when driving, maximum fine $200.
  • The national speed limit is 100kmph. This also applies on the few motorways that New Zealand has.

If I think of more I’ll add them in. If I’ve missed any, let me know.

In general, cars here are parallel imports from Japan. That means your indicators are on the right, and the cars are automatic, unless they are older. A lot of kiwis are now doing their driving test just in automatics, because these cars are so widespread.

Registration plates bear no resemblance to the age of the car either, incidentally.

To own a car on the road you need

  • Registration, which is a standard fee whatever car you have and is payable annually – around $300
  • Warrant of fitness (a bit like a UK MOT.) Around $50 a year, or every 6 months for an older car.
  • If you have a diesel vehicle you will also need to pay road tax. Sorry, don’t know what that costs.

I am told insurance is optional. I have it, I wouldn’t be without it, but it’s WAY cheaper than the UK.