Safe Driving in New Zealand
Avis Road Safety Tips
New Zealand is a great place for a driving holiday, but you need to be prepared for the conditions. So before you hit the roads and start exploring the beautiful scenery that New Zealand is famous for, please take the time to read the following key road rules for New Zealand and some of our safety tips for making your New Zealand driving holiday a safe and happy experience.
Buckle up! Seat belts save lives.
By law, everyone travelling in the vehicle (front and back seats) must use a seatbelt or approved child restraint. Child restraints are available from all Avis car rental locations.
In New Zealand we drive on the left. That means the centre line is always on the right or drivers side of the car. On multilane motorways and open road passing lanes, slower traffic should always use the far left lane.
Most roads in New Zealand are two-lane roads on a single carriageway, which means there is no barrier between you and oncoming traffic. Always stay left and do not cross the centre line.
On the open road, the maximum speed limit is 100 kilometres per hour. In cities and towns, the maximum is 50 kilometres per hour.
Exceptions occur, for example around road works, so be alert for signs (on the left of the road) that tell you the maximum allowable speed.
SPEEDING & SPEED CAMERAS
Our advice is to keep within the speed limit at all times. Mobile speed cameras can be found throughout the country and are normally placed in unmarked vehicles.
New Zealand Police enforce a low tolerance approach to speeding drivers and if you are caught speeding in a rental car you are responsibile for any fines incurred and any administration charges related to the fine.
DRINK DRIVING & RANDOM BREATH TESTING
Do not drive a motor vehicle if you have been drinking alcohol. Random breath testing is carried out in New Zealand and heavy penalties and fines apply if convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol.
For drivers over 20 years of age, you must not drive if you have consumed more than the legal alcohol limit, which is 400 micrograms per litre of breath or 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.
The amount of alcohol you can consume before reaching the legal limit depends on many factors, including: whether you are male or female, your body size, and how much food you have eaten. Even small amounts of alcohol can affect your driving, so our advice is: if you drink any alcohol, don't drive.
A driver must not, while driving a vehicle:
A driver may, while driving a vehicle:
The only other exception is if the driver is using the phone to make an emergency 111 or *555 call.
DRIVE TO THE CONDITIONS
New Zealand roads cover some impressive terrain and can pass through amazing scenery, but they can also be treacherous in certain weather conditions. Always drive to the conditions and reduce speed when necessary.
SAFE WINTER DRIVING
Winter driving conditions in New Zealand can be very tricky, especially through mountainous regions. The following are a few tips for safe winter driving:
STOP - You must stop. Check for vehicles and give way to traffic approaching from the right or left.
GIVEWAY - Slow down and stop if traffic is approaching from the right or left, and follow the Give Way Rules.
Learn more about New Zealand Road Signs at the New Zealand Transport Agency website.
GIVE WAY RULES
All traffic turning right must give way to vehicles coming from the opposite direction and turning left. At an uncontrolled intersection, all traffic from the terminating road (bottom of the ‘T’) will have to give way to all traffic on a continuing road (top of the ‘T’).
Basically, left turning vehicles have right-of-way unless a road sign is present to indicate otherwise.
Learn more about the Give Way rules in New Zealand by visiting the New Zealand Transport Agency website. The following pages contain very important information:
NO PASSING ZONES
You must not pass another moving vehicle where a solid yellow line appears on your side of the centre line.
On the open road, be patient and wait for passing lanes, which make it easy and safe to pass slow vehicles.
On a motorway you must not:
When changing lanes on a motorway, always indicate for at least 3 seconds and check the road is clear before changing lanes.
If you need to make an emergency stop:
DRIVING ON COUNTRY ROADS
Country roads may have hidden dangers. Be on the look out for loose stones, ice and single-lane bridges.
When you reach a scenic attraction, don't drive and look at the same time. Never stop on a corner, no matter how tempting the view.
And in a country with 40 million sheep, keep a look out for livestock being herded along the roads. If you find yourself sharing the road with sheep or cows, proceed very slowly and if required stop until the farmer has cleared the road.
PROHIBITED DRIVING AREAS - OFF ROAD DRIVING
The following areas are classified as prohibited when driving an Avis rental vehicle:
Refer to the Avis New Zealand Rental Terms & Conditions for further details.
If you're involved in an accident, please do the following:
For your protection, you should not admit liability under any circumstances.
AT THE AIRPORT OR AVIS RENTAL COUNTER
Before you leave the Avis rental location and start your journey:
YOUR RENTAL VEHICLE
Always familiarise yourself with the vehicle's safety equipment, including hazard lights, windshield wipers, the spare tire, seat belts and door locks. Make sure the vehicle always has plenty of petrol.
CURRENT ROAD CONDITIONS
Refer to the NZ Transport Agency's Current New Zealand Highway Conditions for the most up to date information regarding road conditions.
These safety tips are common sense suggestions from Avis. The safety of you and your passengers is most important and this is the responsibility of the driver. Follow the road rules and stick to the speed limits. And above all, stay alert and take care at all times.
Driving in a different country can often be a daunting experience. For your convenience this Guide to Safe Driving in New Zealand is available in several languages.
Avis Guide to Safe Driving in New Zealand [German]
Avis Guide to Safe Driving in New Zealand [French]
Avis Guide to Safe Driving in New Zealand [Spanish]
Avis Guide to Safe Driving in New Zealand [Mandarin]
Please Note: The Mandarin file can only be viewed in a Chinese browser.
The Safe Driving Information documents are available as a Portable Document File (PDF), for which you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not already have the free software you will need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader before you can view and print the PDF file.