Car Rentals > About Thrifty > Staying Safe on New Zealand Roads

Staying Safe on New Zealand Roads

While New Zealand’s scenery is beautiful, the diverse geography, weather and road conditions create challenging driving conditions. The resources on this page are provided to help prepare you for driving on New Zealand roads.

Also available in Chinese, German or French.

Before you arrive

Complete free training.The Visitor Driver Training Programme is an interactive video with different driving situations, if you complete the training and bring your certificate along when you pickup your rental you will receive a $10 fuel voucher.  Conditions apply.

Plan your trip

While New Zealand is a small country, sometimes driving times can take longer due to winding roads. You can use this Driving Time and Distance Calculator to help you plan your journeys.

Tips for staying safe on New Zealand roads

keepleft-icon1 Keep LEFT! We drive on the left-hand side of the road in New Zealand. seatbelt-icon2 Always wear your seat belt. Everyone in your vehicle must wear a seatbelt, and children must be secured in an approved child seat.
stop-icon4 Keep to the speed limit and always stop at STOP signs. speedo3 Always slow down to observe recommended speeds around bends and check for oncoming traffic on one-lane bridges.
noovertaking-icon5 Overtake other vehicles only when it’s safe to do so. Use passing lanes whenever possible, and never cross a solidyellow line on your side of the centre line. rest-icon6 Stay well-rested. Plan to drive for only 1 – 2 hours at a time, and take regular breaks during your journey to stretch your legs.
condition-icon7 Drive to the conditions. You’ll need to reduce your speed if it’s raining, icy, snowing, windy or if you’re in a roadworks area. Ask your accommodation provider if in doubt. Drivetime8 Use this Driving Time and Distance Calculator or GPS to estimate driving times while planning your journey. Driving in New Zealand can often take longer than expected due to our winding roads.
drunk-icon9 Do not drink and drive. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime in New Zealand and strictly enforced by police, with severe penalties for offenders. nocell-icon10 It’s illegal to use a mobile phone while driving in New Zealand. If you need to make a call or send a text, pull over at a rest area or in a safe place.

Safety tips

In case of emergency, contact Police, Fire or Ambulance by dialling 111.

Remember, it’s easy to underestimate New Zealand driving times. Take plenty of breaks and give yourself additional travel time to rest and stretch your legs. There are some great suggested itineraries and New Zealand driving routes for journey inspiration available here.

Keep your eye on the weather conditions before each journey so you can drive to the conditions. Allow for extra New Zealand driving times where needed. Download a winter driving conditions guide here.

More information:

DriveSafe.org.nz provides information about New Zealand road rules and etiquette, along with links to more details about everything that drivers unfamiliar with NZ roads need to know. It offers valuable guidance to visiting drivers at three key stages of their trip – before they arrive, when they pick up their rental vehicle and during their journey around New Zealand.

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