Pegasus’ 14 Key Tips for Driving in New Zealand

Staying safe on the road in beautiful New Zealand

Driving is the best way to see New Zealand. Circling Lake Taupo, travelling through Lake Tekapo on your way to New Zealand’s highest mountain Mt Cook, visiting the sun-drenched beaches of Northland or visiting the wineries in Central Otago, road trips are a Kiwi tradition, so book your vehicle with Pegasus Rental Cars and enjoy!

Before you start your journey, there are some important things to remember about driving here in New Zealand:

  1. Don’t drive tired – after a long-haul flight, book a night’s accommodation before driving.
  2. Seat belts are compulsory and, unless using hands-free, it’s illegal to use a cell phone while driving.
    Selt belts are compulsory in New Zealand rental cars and not rental cars
  3. Our roads are some of the narrowest and steepest in the world. They are also very windy so take your time and factor these conditions into your travelling times.
  4. Always keep to the left-hand side of the road.
    Keep Left on NZ roads in your rental car
  5. 100km/h maximum speed or less on the open road.
  6. On most of New Zealand’s main rural roads and motorways, the speed limit is 100km/h unless a sign says a lower speed applies.
  7. In urban areas, the speed limit is usually 50km/h unless a sign says otherwise.
    50kmh speed limit sign New Zealand
  8. Most roads are two-way, with one lane in each direction – so keep left and be very careful passing. If you do decide to pass, follow the rules shown below. Before you pass:
    • Make sure you will be able to see at least 100 metres of clear road ahead of you once you have finished passing – if not, do not pass
    • Look well ahead to make sure there are no vehicles coming towards you
    • Look behind to make sure there are no vehicles beginning to pass you
    • Signal right for at least 3 seconds before moving out to pass
    • You are not allowed to pass when there are yellow lines in the middle of the road

    Signal right for at least 3 seconds before moving out to pass in NZ

  9. In the winter beware of black ice. On shaded sections of the road water can freeze to an invisible sheet of ice.
  10. To stay alert, stay hydrated and well fed – New Zealand is overflowing with good places to eat. Stop a while and have a rest!
  11. Watch out for sheep… seriously! – on New Zealand’s country roads you are likely to encounter a flock of sheep or a herd of cows.
    In a rental car you have to watch for sheep crossing New Zealand roads
  12. You are welcome to stop and photograph the scenery – just be sure you are well off the road and that you stop in a way that does not endanger other motorists. As well as rest areas to stop in, there are areas available beside the road where you can stop to take photographs. Particularly where the scenery is spectacular, the best photographic positions will have a designated area to stop in. Keep yourself and others safe by parking in these areas but remember to indicate your intentions when turning to stop.
  13. Take your time, explore! New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, around every corner there is another stunning vista, another gorgeous place to see.
  14. Make regular stops and stay alert to the different driving conditions in New Zealand.

Pegasus Rental Cars has 15 locations across New Zealand – we have got you covered for your rental car, people mover, minivan, trailer and some even have trucks!

For further information:
Read about New Zealand’s road rules
Booklet for overseas drivers
Driving in bad weather