New Zealand Holiday Driving Tips

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Read about 'New Zealand Holiday Driving Tips' on USAVE, the place for all things car rental.

If you’re travelling to New Zealand over Christmas, you’ll be here during our summer, which means lots of sun, BBQs, bach holidays and no cold weather to worry about. It’s an excellent time of year to visit our beautiful country, and if you’re planning on travelling by road, we have some driving tips to keep you safe during the holiday period. Driving during peak holiday periods is more hazardous because of the increase in traffic in general, the higher number of overseas drivers who are slower and unfamiliar with New Zealand’s roads and rules, and more pedestrians, campervans and vehicles towing boats or caravans.

Top Road Travel Tips

  • Plan Ahead. Make sure you check your vehicle, plan your route and allow time for rest stops.
  • Avoid The Worst Traffic. Try not to travel during peak congestion periods in larger towns.
  • Allow Plenty Of Time For Your Journey. Rushing to your destination will just increase the risk of having an accident.
  • Don’t Drive When Tired. If you’re feeling tired, pull over for a rest or let someone else drive – driver fatigue is a major cause of road deaths and injuries in New Zealand.
  • Swot Up on The Road Rules. If you’re from overseas or you’re driving a different type of vehicle such as a campervan, make sure you’re familiar with the rules, signs and restrictions before you travel.
  • Take Care On Rural Roads.  You’re likelier to come across slow moving vehicles such as tractors and caravans, and many roads have lots of big bends, steep hills and sheer drops.

Travel Checklist

These checks are especially important if you are driving a New Zealand rental car:

  • Make sure your Certificate of Fitness and vehicle registration are up to date – these can be found affixed to the windscreen (if you hire a car from USAVE we take care of this for you)
  • Check your oil, water and tyre pressure, fill up your screen wash, make sure all passengers have a working seat belt, and check your spare tyre is suitable and that you have the tools to change it if necessary
  • Ensure you have a current driver’s licence valid for the duration of your trip and keep it with you when you drive
  • Pack all your belongings securely – loose objects are hazards to you and other road users

Basic Road Rules

  • In New Zealand we drive on the left hand side
  • The urban speed limit is 50kph (around 30mph), with a few areas designated 70kph.
  • The speed limit in rural areas and the main highway increases to 100kph (about 60mph) unless otherwise indicated
  • When turning at an intersection with traffic lights, give way to pedestrians crossing the street you are turning into
  • When two vehicles are coming towards each other at an intersection and both are turning right, pass each other on the offside so your paths do not cross
  • You must park on the left (e.g. in the direction of the traffic) unless you are in a one-way street
  • All vehicles require a warrant of fitness and registration; car rental vehicles must have a certificate of fitness; documentation for these is affixed to the windscreen
  • The blood alcohol limit in New Zealand is 80mg/100ml, although having any alcohol in your blood after an accident may affect the insurance cover on your rental vehicle
  • Use of hand-held mobile phones while driving is banned
  • Seat belts are compulsory and drivers are legally responsible for ensuring all passengers under 15 are securely restrained

The NZ Transport Agency has more information on road safety in New Zealand or check out the latest NZ Road Code. USAVE Car & Truck Rentals wish you a safe and happy holiday in New Zealand. Related Articles Important Give Way Rule Changes – Mar 2012 NZ Rental Cars – Driving In New Zealand

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