Driving in New Zealand
You’ll find the open roads of New Zealand a motorist’s dream, and driving on the left will make things a lot easier too. The distances are set by you as to how far you want to travel each day, but you are likely to be spending a lot of time on the road.
The advice below will give you an indication of the motoring costs you can expect during your trip, as well as provide useful information regarding road signs and New Zealand driving laws.
New Zealand has a reciprocal agreement to automatically recognise full UK driving licences. If you hold a valid overseas driving licence, or an international driving permit, you can drive for up to a year after you first arrive. You will only be able to drive those types of vehicles for which you are licensed in your country of origin and must carry that licence or permit with you whenever you drive.
On individual tailor made holidays, basic public liability coverage is included in your vehicle rental fee, but details may vary between rental companies. A typical arrangement is that you leave a NZ$7,500 vehicle security deposit. This is debited from your credit card and held as your excess for damage to your vehicle or the property of a third party.
There are, however, two excess reduction options available. With option one you pay a daily charge, thereby reducing your bond and excess to NZ$2,500. If paying by credit card, an imprint is taken.
Excess Reduction Option two is the most comprehensive available. It enables you to benefit from a reduced vehicle security deposit of NZ$220. You will not have to pay any excess for damage to your vehicle or the property of a third party if this damage is not from misuse of the vehicle under the ‘exclusions’ clause.
On escorted tours, your vehicle rental includes Excess reduction 2 (nil excess) insurance.
Driving in New Zealand
New Zealand’s roads are very pleasant to drive on in comparison to many in the UK. Once out of the few major conurbations, you will find the open road a motorist’s dream. Rules of the road will be provided with your motorhome. In New Zealand, vehicles are driven on the left, as in the UK. All traffic approaching or crossing from the right has right of way.
The legal speed limit is 100 km/h (60 mph) on the open road and 50 km/h (30 mph) in built up areas.
You should not use a mobile phone while driving.
Drinking and driving
The legal blood alcohol limit is 80mg in New Zealand and drink driving laws are strictly enforced.
Distances are given in kilometres. Signs follow standard international symbols.
Parking facing against the direction of traffic is illegal.
Seat belts must be worn at all times by drivers and passengers.
Diesel costs about NZ$1.70 (about 70 pence) per litre. Many petrol stations are open 24 hours a day and credit cards are an accepted method of payment. If long stretches of particularly sparsely populated country lie ahead of you (e.g. the South Island West Coast) it is advisable to tank up when you have the opportunity, even if you still have half a tank or so of fuel.
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