Driving Rules & Regulations in New Zealand

Nestled in the South Pacific Ocean, New Zealand can look like a mere dot on the world map, but this country has as many diverse elements as several continents rolled into one. Discover that diversity for yourself by renting a car in New Zealand with Nova Car Hire. A familiarity with the rules of the road will make your New Zealand car hire experience that much sweeter. We’ve gathered the main points here, but you’ll find more detailed information on the New Zealand Transport Agency’s website.

    • newz1Drive on the left-hand side of the road.
    • The maximum speed on any open road is 100km/h. The maximum speed in urban areas is 50km/h. Maintain a speed appropriate to the conditions.
    • New Zealand roads often include hilly, narrow or winding terrain, which could lengthen the estimated length of your journey.
    •  Carry your driver’s licence and vehicle documentation in the car.
    • You must be at least 21 years old to rent a car in New Zealand. Also consider paying extra to remove the high insurance excess.  (Excess is the part of any claim you must pay yourself).
    • It is obligatory for drivers and passengers to wear seat belts.
    • Do not drink and drive in New Zealand – drinking and driving laws are strictly enforced. From 2014, the legal blood alcohol limit in New Zealand is  50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.


  • Most open roads are single lane each way, apart from motorways approaching larger cities such as Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Before overtaking, ensure you have at least 100m of clear road in front of you for the procedure. Do not pass on double yellow lines.
  • Road conditions are inconsistent, with some roads off the main highways requiring extra care due to unfinished surfaces, and others being unsafe for vehicles. Ask your rental car company to indicate these roads on a map before driving off.
  • Ice or snow can create dangerous driving conditions in winter, especially around mountain passes. Watch out for signs indicating slippery surfaces in winter and drive slowly. Avoid braking suddenly on ice, however. In some cases, chains may be required. Enquire when renting a car and learn how to fit them.