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Driving in New Zealand – what you need to know

There are a few things that anyone renting a car needs to be aware of.

The great thing about exploring the Land of the Long White Cloud is that driving a New Zealand car rental is a relatively stress-free experience, particularly for those used to the more busy roads of North America, Europe or even Australia.

For the most part, the roads in New Zealand are safe and well signposted, and other drivers will show you respect and courtesy on the road if you do the same for them.

However, there are a few important things about driving in New Zealand that you need to know ahead of arriving, to ensure that your car rental experience goes off without a hitch.

Drive on the left

Like Australia and the UK, New Zealand drivers are required to stick to the left side of the road. This can take some adjustment if you are from a right-hand drive country such as the USA, Canada or Europe, but it shouldn’t take you too long to get the hang of it.

No cell phones while driving

In New Zealand it is illegal to operate a cell phone while you’re driving. This includes making or receiving phone calls and texting. The only exception is if you have a properly fitted hands-free kit that is specifically designed for driving.

Follow the speed limits

New Zealand roads will usually have speed limits posted at regular intervals, and you are required to follow these at all times. As a general rule, the standard speed limit is 100 km/hour on motorways and 50 km/hour in residential areas.

Wear your seatbelt

New Zealand drivers and passengers are legally required to wear their seatbelts at all times. There are fines applicable to anyone caught in a moving vehicle without a seatbelt, and if you have occupants under the age of 15 then you will be liable for them as well.

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