Driving Rules and Regulations

Expats in New Zealand prefer to have cars as this generally gives them the freedom to explore the country. Getting around on both islands in a car is fairly easy and crossing between the ferries is not complicated when you have your own means of transport.

Most expats who are moving to the country are able to drive for one year with their driver’s license from their home country but this must be in English. If the license is not in English, it is essential that an official translation or an International drivers permit is obtained and must be carried at all times, this permit allows you to drive in the country and in some cases you will only be permitted to drive the same vehicle as your home country. After 12 months expats must apply for a new licence of New Zealand.

To change your license you must visit a driver licensing agent and obtain an application form which will allow you to convert your license. Forms can also be downloaded online on the New Zealand Transport Agency Website. With your application, you must provide: Overseas license or translation, proof of ID and address, photocopies of documentary evidence, fees and maybe a medical certificate.

Road rules are straightforward being similar to the UK and driving is on the left. Licenses expire every few years and the driver is responsible for making the renewal application. If this is not done within a few years of the expiry a practical test may need to be taken.

Foreign nationals from other countries may need to take a theory and practical test before a license is given. The list of countries can be found on the New Zealand Transport Agency Website.

Speed Limits

The speed limits vary in New Zealand depending on the roads, these are as follows:

  • Shared pedestrian Zone: 10kph
  • Urban and Residential Roads : 30-40kph
  • Roads with light urbanisation: 60-80Kph
  • Rural roads : 80-90Kph
  • Outside urban and built up areas/Motorways/Expressways: 100Km/h
  • City centres with high pedestrian traffic: 30Km/h

Any driver who goes above the speed limit by more than 40Kmh will have their license suspended for at least 28 days and will get a fine. In addition to this if caught by the police officer drivers will receive demerit points.