You can drive in New Zealand on your full Canadian licence for up to 12 months from the date you enter, after this point, you will need to apply for a New Zealand driver’s licence. If your Canadian licence is in French, you must obtain an accurate NZTA approved English translation before driving in New Zealand. Those on a Canadian learners licence are unable to drive in New Zealand, but if your state or province issues an intermediate ‘provisional’ driver’s licence or driver permit, you are able to drive under the conditions of this licence. However, provisional licences are unable to hire a vehicle with GO Rentals.

Canadian Flag

What are the limitations of driving in New Zealand with my Canadian licence?

We know, planning a trip is exciting and even more so with a self-drive holiday when you have unlimited places to see on the open road. So that you can get GOing with planning your road trip, we have put together a list of all the New Zealand rules you need to be aware of before driving on your Canadian driving licence.

  1. You do not need to apply for an international driving permit
  2. If your licence is in French, you must obtain an acceptable NZTA approved English translation from an approved translator.
  3. You can drive for up to 12 months before you need to apply for a New Zealand licence.
  4. You must not have received a disqualification or suspension in New Zealand.
  5. You must carry your driver’s licence with you at all times whilst driving in New Zealand.
  6. Those on a Canadian provisional or intermediate drivers licence must adhere to the conditions of their licence. Check with your state or province if they issue provisional licences; usually after 1 year on your learner’s licence.
  7. Provisional drivers do not need to display a P plate.

Vehicle Limitations

Your valid overseas licence is equivalent to a New Zealand class 1 licence and the weight and size limitations may differ from your province rules in Canada. Some provinces only allow you to drive a vehicle with a maximum gross weight of 4,600kg, but a New Zealand licence and equivalent allow you to drive a vehicle up to 6,000kg gross laden weight. Be assured that all the cars and vans available to hire with GO Rentals are within the weight limit.

The limitations under your provisional licence apply in New Zealand, check the rules on your Province or State website.

How do the road rules differ between New Zealand and Canada?

There are a lot of differences between Canadian and New Zealand roads so you should get familiar with the road code ahead of your trip. No adventure is fun without safety, so read up on how to drive safely in New Zealand.

Road Safety Banner

Differences with New Zealand Road Rules

  1. New Zealand drives on the left-hand side. It is recommended that you get familiar with driving on the left side on quieter roads before taking off on your road trip. Always ensure you take a second to check you are not on the wrong side of the road before you pull out.
  2. By law, children under 7 must be properly restrained with a child seat. In Canada it is under 6 so if your child is under 7, ensure you get a child restraint, which can be hired from GO Rentals.
  3. It is recommended that you do not drink alcohol and drive. Under 20, there is a strictly enforced zero alcohol limit. For over 20, the limit is 50mg per 100ml of blood.
  4. The road signs, although can be similar, may differ from your province in Canada. It is best to familiarise yourself with the signs before driving in New Zealand.
  5. The rural roads in New Zealand tend to be narrower than most roads in Canada, with only a single lane in each direction and fewer highways.

Similarities with New Zealand Road Rules

  1. The rural speed limit is also 100km/h in New Zealand unless a sign indicates a different limit.
  2. By law, every passenger must wear a seat belt.
  3. Just as it is in Canada, it is illegal to use your mobile phone or GPS whilst driving, it must be completely hands-free.
  4. The roads can be steep and winding through mountainous areas, so driving slower is necessary to be safe.
  5. New Zealand can get snowy and icy weather conditions. Although it is not as extreme as in Canada, it is still recommended to attach snow chains to your tyres in winter.

Things to know before driving in New Zealand

Similar to Canada, New Zealand offers stunning landscapes of mountains, lakes and national parks to admire, so planning a self-drive holiday is the best way to discover all of the hidden gems. Once you are familiar with the rules for international drivers and road safety laws, you can get enthusiastic about your itinerary! Things you should remember:

  1. You can hire a car straight from most major airports so there is no need to book transfers and wait for your road trip to begin, you can start straight away, see our car rentals at Queenstown airport.
  2. You don’t have to spend your whole holiday driving, we have incredible scenic drives very close to our major cities. Check out our top 10 3-hour road trips from Auckland or our top 10 Queenstown day trips.
  3. If you are planning a trip through our wine regions, it is best to plan a night’s rest stop so you can enjoy the wine. Remember, if you are caught driving over the alcohol limit, you may be liable for an infringement fee. One of our most beautiful road trips from Lake Tekapo to Christchurch passes through the wine region of Canterbury, definitely worth a stop and a wine tour.

Car driving in Queenstown

Things to know before hiring a car in New Zealand

We make the process of hiring a car with GO Rentals as smooth as possible, so let’s cover some essential things to know before you book.

Can you drop off your car at a different location?

Take the stress out of rushing back to your starting location, you can simply book ahead to drop off at any of our GO Rental locations in New Zealand.

What are the rules about returning the car with a full tank of petrol?

All hire vehicles must be returned with a full tank of petrol. However, if you find yourself running low and you can’t find anywhere to fill up then don’t stress. Our team can fill this up for you and charge you the cost to fill and a possible $50 service charge.

How much is petrol usually?

Prices for gas tend to be slightly more expensive than Canada, petrol is usually around $2.77 NZD per litre ($2.23 CAD) and diesel is around $2.49 NZD per litre ($2 CAD). Diesel drivers have to pay a road user charge per km travelled in New Zealand so diesel tends to be more expensive in the long run.

Will you need insurance?

As standard, we include a basic insurance policy into the price of our car hires which includes a maximum excess. There are 2 upgrade insurance options to reduce your excess liability. If you wish, you are able to cover your excess with a third-party insurance policy or travel insurance, but you would be liable to pay the full amount and then claim the amount from your insurer.

What’s the best car for you?

Another thing to consider is the car you will need to make your road trip as comfortable as possible. All of our vehicles are within the size limit allowed on your Canadian driver’s licence so you can focus on choosing the car for you.

Small Car

Urban areas can get a lot of traffic and it can be harder to park so if you are basing yourself in a city, try and hire a smaller car. We have a location in Auckland City with a range of cars to suit city driving.

White Toyota Yaris


If climate change is as important to you as it is to us, then you will be happy to know we have a full fleet of Tesla rental cars. Drive with peace of mind that your journey will be completely carbon neutral.

Tesla Model 3


Consider whether you will need an SUV or people carrier to fit in your whole family and all of your gear comfortably, we have a whole fleet of family cars in New Zealand.

Mitsubishi Pajero

Short Drives

If you are planning to only drive around the city or plan some short day trips, consider hiring a smaller car to your costs, petrol and carbon footprint.

Red Toyota Corolla Hatch

Check out all of our vehicles for rent and get GOing on your New Zealand trip of a lifetime!