Viw Magazine

Travel

  • Written by NewsCo

New Zealand is a beautiful country, so if you want to visit there and drive, you will need to learn the rules of the road. What are the differences when it comes to driving in New Zealand? There are several things that you should know. There are so many incredible sights to take in and when you drive in a car it offers you a great deal of freedom. Driving in another country can be challenging and you will not know your way around, so you need to have a plan in place. Assuming you have your NZ Drivers licence, here are some of the main road rules for driving in New Zealand:

  • Take Your Time. The country is beautiful, and the roads are challenging. Many of the roads are gravel roads and you will need to take your time when you are going on a trip. Plan and calculate your driving time before you get started. This way you will be able to book accommodations along your route.

  • Stay Left. In New Zealand, we drive on the left side of the road. This is like Australia and the United Kingdom. Always look to your right when you are entering a roundabout to check for traffic coming towards you.

  • Do Not Drink Alcohol. While this may seem obvious, this is a gentle reminder that it is illegal to drink and drive in New Zealand. If you have been drinking alcohol and are found behind the wheel of a vehicle, you can face severe fines and possible jail time.

  • Do Not Use Your Cell Phone. As in most countries worldwide, it is not legal to use your cellular device while you are driving in New Zealand. If you must answer a call, pull over to the side of the road when it is safe to do so, shut off your car and answer the phone.

  • Wear Your Seatbelt. All occupants of your vehicle must be buckled in, no exceptions. If anyone in your vehicle does not have a seatbelt on, both the offender and the driver will receive a fine.

  • Use Roundabouts Correctly. If you have not encountered a roundabout where you live, these can seem somewhat confusing. When you approach a roundabout, you should turn on your left indicator so that you show you are planning to exit left. If you plan to drive more than halfway around the roundabout and want to turn right, you will need to use your right indicator. If you plan to exit straight ahead then you do not need to use your indicator. You must yield to any traffic that will cross your path flowing from your right side.

  • Understand the Give Way Rules. It is important to understand where and when you need to give way. If traffic is approaching from the right in a roundabout, you need to give way to that traffic. If any vehicle is approaching you from your front side and turning right, you must give way to them. All vehicles that are at the top of the T intersection go first (remember “Top of the T moves before me”) and give way to vehicles that are making a left turn if you are planning to turn right.

  • Drive the Speed Limit. Stay at the posted speed limit or a little bit slower. Basic speed limits posted in New Zealand are 30 km/h around areas of road constructions or any dangerous areas. Most cities have a posted speed limit of 50km/h and highways are, on average, 100 km/h. Posted limits are the maximum you should be driving and not a speed that you need to “target”.

  • Drive Appropriate to Weather Conditions. If you encounter adverse conditions including ice, snow, wind, fog, heavy rain, then you should reduce your speed. The roads in New Zealand are always being maintained and it is a good possibility that you will find some type of roadwork on your road trip. The speed limit in a construction zone is 30km/h.

  • Take Corners Slowly. There are many corners on New Zealand roads. You never know what is around that corner, so take your time and observe the recommended speed when you are going into a turn or a bend. The recommended speed is always posted in a yellow sign that is shaped like a diamond and includes that shape of the turn.

  • Stop at Stop Signs and red Lights. This may seem obvious, but some people think that they can simply slow down and then proceed if the roads are clear. You must stop when it is indicated for you to do so. If you fail to do that, you can get a ticket from New Zealand Law enforcement.

  • Pass Carefully. Always make certain that it is safe for you to overtake a vehicle before you speed up to pass. You want to ensure that the road ahead is clear and that you have time to make your pass without encountering any vehicles coming towards you. If the line in the middle of the road is intermittent, it is legal for you to pass. A solid yellow line indicates that it is illegal to pass.

  • Rest. If you are driving all day, you should take a rest about every two hours. Pull over when it is safe to do so, take advantage of rest stops and vantage points. Get out of your vehicle and stretch your legs. Getting fresh air and moving around will help you to remain alert while driving and it can save lives, including your own.

  • Look for Traffic. There are so many narrow roads in New Zealand with tight corners and hidden bends. Always slow down when you approach a narrow spot in the road, a one-lane bridge or a tight corner. Looking ahead can prepare you for possible dangers on the road.

Driving in New Zealand can be a beautiful experience. Make certain that you get your NZ licence and understand the rules of the road and the road signs as well as having a plan in place with accommodations arranged ahead of time. This will help you to be able to relax and enjoy your drive as you travel through the country of New Zealand.

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