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New Zealand Self Drive Information

  • Luge track, Queenstown

New Zealand is perfect for a self-drive vacation. It is long and narrow (similar in size to the state of Colorado) and at any given point, you are no farther than 70 miles from the ocean.

The tremendous diversity of its topography is comparable to an entire continent. Within a few hours travel you can go from subtropical beaches to alpine glaciers, from fiords to rainforests and from cosmopolitan cities to great tracts of wilderness. With so much to see and do, we recommend that you allow at least two weeks to explore this extraordinary country.

Driving Laws

Any visitor may drive in New Zealand, using a recognized driving permit (Canadian or U.S. licence or an International Driving Permit) for a maximum period of 12 months from date of arrival in New Zealand or until the expiry of the licence, whichever is the earlier.

New Zealanders drive on the left hand side of the road. The maximum speed limit in cities and towns is from 50 km/h (32mph) and 100 km/h (62mph) on country roads and highways, unless signs indicate otherwise.  Speed limits are strictly enforced.   Strict drink-driving laws apply and it is compulsory for drivers and passengers to wear seat belts at all times.

New Zealand highways (in the main) are of a high standard; main highways are sealed and offer no difficulty for motorists from overseas. Those routes not sealed are generally well-graded and maintained. Visiting drivers can generally expect to average 90 km per hour during a day's drive in New Zealand.

Petrol (gas)

Petrol in Australia comes in leaded and unleaded grades and is sold by the litre. Petrol costs between $NZ 2.05 - $A2.30 per litre. LPG gas and diesel is also available. Petrol stations are plentiful; trading hours vary. Most will accept major international credit cards.

Inter-Island Ferry

A drive-on/drive-off service operates several times daily between Picton and Wellington (approx. 3.5 hours). Advance bookings are recommended especially during peak periods (December, January, February, public and school holidays).  Car rentals organised by Goway do not travel on the ferry.  The rental car is returned prior to embarking the ferry and the next vehicle is collected upon disembarkations.


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