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Driving in New Zealand

Stately Explorer

Driving in New Zealand

Making a trip out to New Zealand this year.

 

Since driving is a must we'll be renting a car.

 

Feeling kind of nervous driving on the opposite side of the road.

 

How's your experience been driving in New Zealand? I feel like I'll have to constantly and consciously tell myself, "stay left. Stay left."

 

Any tips to share to driving in New Zealand? Aside from "stay left." :)

11 Replies
Internationally Known

Re: Driving in New Zealand

New Zealand's roads are in good condition, you will get used to driving on the left fairly quickly. If you are nervous about it, make sure you will rent a car with automatic transmission. One thing less to worry about when the gear stick is on the left of the driver's seat but a bit more expensive.

Internationally Known

Re: Driving in New Zealand

I am definitely going to be following this conversation because I had the same question as well. I have noticed that New Zealand, along with Australia and Israel, is commonly on the exemption list for rental car insurance covered by most major credit cards.

Stately Explorer

Re: Driving in New Zealand

I just now had to double check our car rental reservation to ensure we got an automatic transmission. Phew. We did. Scared myself a little there. Thanks.

 

Sounds like a default rental option here in the states. It doesn't even cross our minds. But I've read the rest of the world is far less reliant on automatic transmission than we are. :)

Stately Explorer

Re: Driving in New Zealand

I did choose a rental company that said "insurance included." So hopefully that means their insurance in New Zealand.

 

I rented using Expedia. I opted not to get the daily insurance from Expedia. Seems like it would be a hassle trying to claim from a third party in the States for a different country. 

Internationally Known

Re: Driving in New Zealand

You'll do fine, especially with the automatic (worth every penny)j. The first few minute are weird, but after that it's old hat. The only time I had to really pause and think harder was when pulling up to an intersection to turn left or right. It takes some mental effort to force yourself into the "wrong" lane, and to remember to watch for traffic coming from the opposite direction we're used to. Great stories on Banff by the way, now I have the gondola hotel on my bucket list! Welcome to the BTC community!

Stately Explorer

Re: Driving in New Zealand

"remember to watch for traffic coming from the opposite direction we're used to"


oh yea! Simple enough. But would have totally failed to do so before reading this.


Thank you!

Nationally Recognized

Re: Driving in New Zealand

My partner and I did NZ two years ago and since I didn't drive, she had to do ALL the driving and she was a champpp! 

 

Give yourself a few buffer days to get used to driving on the left. As a passenger, I was even nervous because I was in the "driver seat" for us drive on the right. 

 

When you pick up your rental car (we did ours directly through a Ezi Car , and we got lucky with 50% off, because of the ironman competition happening so this company was giving discounts!), we purchased Allianz insurance and it covered the rental car and it was *so* much cheaper! Might want to check out our Arrival Plus coverage as well, we forgot all about it while purchasing, but since we were covering ourselves for the trip with Allianz we just decided to go with rental car since it showed serious proof to the rental company of *how much* would be covered.

 

We also rented a smaller car which helps when driving on the roads in NZ. We did almost a month of traveling (you'll still see us post random stories, because we did SO much there), and some roads are very narrow. Having a smaller car was a blessing. We did also get a traffic ticket, unfortunate, but in Dunedin there was some crazy patterns happening due to construction annnd went through a red light. :(

 

Everyone else is driving left, you'll soon see that it's not a big deal. The roads further away from the city are one lanes going each way, barely any cars, but with that said, *stay left*. The only time my partner got nervous was when we entered cities or when we entered Abel Tasman because that road was narrow, on a cliff, and *two way* with RV's trying to pass us (you could only back up in that situation).

 

Another tip is that when you are driving through, you'll be driving up mountains and NZ doesn't believe in guard rails. Keep your eyes on the line and just stay calm. The only person really freaking out is the passenger, haha, because we can see the drop!

 

Lastly, my partner says you'll turn the windshield wipers on all the time, haha, and biggest tip is to leave the lane depature warnings ON, massive help when you're driving on the left side of the road.

 

Enjoy NZ!

Stately Explorer

Re: Driving in New Zealand

Lol. I'll be the passenger most the time so I'll definitely be the nervous wreck.

 

"lane depature warnings?" I'm guessing that's the signal lights? :) my husband is really bad signaling properly here at home. Like signaling when he's already halfway into the next lane kind of bad. I'll have to give him fair warning on how best to prepare for New Zealand.

Nationally Recognized

Re: Driving in New Zealand

Hahaha, not signal lights, although yes use those!

 

It's actually apart of the car features. It tells you when you're drifting into the wrong lane, and this is a BLESSING when you're driving on the left. Any time my partner drifted slightly into the right lane the warning would beep loudly and she could quickly steer the car. This gave her peace of mind while driving because she would focus more on the drive itself and not think about staying left when there's so much to think about aka SHEEEP! 

 

This already was already in the rental car, so just make sure this is on and you'll have an easy drive. :D

 

Enjoy!!