If you have a full Chinese driver licence, you can drive in New Zealand for the period of 12 months following your entry. Beyond 12 months, you must convert to a New Zealand driver licence.

If you are on a provisional driver licence, you must adhere to the rules of your provisional licence while driving in New Zealand. Holders of Chinese provisional driver licences are not able to hire cars with GO Rentals.

Chinese Flag
Chinese Flag


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

When you’re planning an overseas trip, you’re probably bursting with excitement. Researching the relevant rules you need to know before heading off isn’t much fun. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up the key things you need to keep in mind, when driving in New Zealand with a Chinese licence into this easy list:

  1. You do not need to apply for an international driving permit.
  2. You can drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months before you need to convert your licence to a New Zealand licence.
  3. You must not have received a disqualification or suspension in New Zealand.
  4. You must carry your driver licence with you at all times whilst driving in New Zealand.
  5. You must have an accurate English translation of your licence and carry it with you at all times while driving in New Zealand. Approved translators include New Zealand Transport Agency authorised translation services, a diplomatic representative at a high commission, an embassy or consulate, and the authority that issued your Chinese driver licence.
  6. If you are on a provisional Chinese driver licence, you must adhere to the conditions of your licence while driving in New Zealand.
  7. Chinese licence holders must sit a practical and a theory test in order to convert to a New Zealand licence, with the exception of those from Hong Kong.

Vehicle limitations

A full overseas licence is equivalent to a New Zealand class 1 licence, which allows holders to drive a vehicle up to 6,000kg gross laden weight. This is in contrast to the 4,500kg weight limit for standard Chinese driver licences (C1 and C2 class).

All cars and vans available to hire with GO Rentals are within the 6,000kg weight limit.

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

As with any overseas self-driving holiday, it’s very important that you familiarise yourself with the road rules of New Zealand before you arrive.

Road Safety Banner

Similarities with New Zealand road rules

  1. By law, every passenger must wear a seat belt.
  2. It is illegal to use a mobile phone or GPS when driving. The use of a mobile phone must be completely hands-free, just as it is in China.
  3. Both New Zealand and China feature steep, mountainous roads which can also be subject to icy conditions and snowfall.

Differences with New Zealand road rules

  1. In New Zealand, you must drive on the left-hand side of the road. In China, you must drive on the right-hand side of the road, with the exception of Hong Kong and Macau.
  2. In New Zealand, any child under the age of 7 must be restrained in a child seat. In China, the age at which point children are no longer required to sit in a child seat is 4.
  3. In New Zealand, all drivers under the age of 20 must have a blood alcohol content of 0 and drivers over 20 must not have a BAC in excess of 50mg per 100ml of blood. In China, the BAC limit is 20mg per 100ml of blood.
  4. The maximum speed limit found in New Zealand is 110km/h. This is lower than the maximum speed limit found in China, which is 120km/h.
  5. Road signs are different in New Zealand and China. Foreign visitors should familiarise themselves with New Zealand road signs before beginning their travels.
  6. New Zealand features far fewer motorways than China, so be prepared to drive for many kilometres with only a single lane in each direction.

Things to know before driving in New Zealand

If you want to get a good sense of everything New Zealand has to offer, a self-driving holiday is the way to go. China is known for its extensive rail system which can be used widely throughout the country. It’s much more difficult to get around New Zealand via public transport, particularly if you plan to visit the South Island.

Here are some things to keep in mind before your self-driving New Zealand holiday.

  1. Chinese roads are known for being extremely busy and at times chaotic, especially in highly urbanised areas. New Zealand roads are a good deal more relaxed, but it’s still a good idea to read our guide to driving in New Zealand so you know what you’re getting into.
  2. Auckland is on the bucket list of many travellers who make their way to New Zealand. The beauty of a hire car is that you aren’t bound to stay in just one location. Click here to see our guide to top day trips you can take when staying in Auckland.
  3. If you’re travelling to New Zealand’s South Island you can also check out our guide to the best locations within 3 hour’s drive of Christchurch, including Waipara Valley, Akaroa, Mount Somers and many more.

Rav 4 roadtrip

Things to know before hiring a car in New Zealand

Before you book your car with GO Rentals, here are some things to be aware of.

What’s your budget?

To ensure you end up in the perfect car for you, it’s important to decide on your budget for your car. You should always aim to find the best deal, but you certainly don’t want to derail your trip by skimping on your hire car.

Fortunately, at GO Rentals we have a wide array of options that are suitable for any budget. You can also check out our deals page to score a bargain.

How far are you driving?

Will your New Zealand holiday consist of cross-country road trips or short drives around urban areas? While all GO Rentals vehicles feature unlimited kilometres, you should still figure out how far you plan on driving your car so you can decide between small cars for easy city parking, SUVs for carting the family long distances or 4 wheel drives for easy access to remote areas.

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

All GO Rentals vehicles must be returned with a full tank of petrol. However, if you are unable to do so, you may return your vehicle with an unfilled tank. Our team will then fill the car up for you and charge the cost to you. A $50 service fee may also apply.

How much is petrol usually?

Petrol is significantly more expensive in New Zealand than in China. A litre of petrol in China costs around CN¥8.12 (USD$1.15). In New Zealand, a litre of petrol costs approximately $2.58NZD (USD$1.56). 

What’s the best car for you?

The particular nature of your holiday affects which car you should choose from our extensive fleet. Consider the following before you make your final decision.

Business trips

New Zealand’s thriving business community attracts many corporate travellers. If you’re coming here on your employer’s dime, why not opt for the full luxury and navigation systems of our Tesla rental car fleet?

Tesla Model 3

Short drives

Planning on spending your holiday in a single city? A smaller car is perfect to save on costs, lower your carbon footprint and make parking easy. Check out our Auckland City car hire location to find the ideal vehicle for you.

White Toyota Yaris


Are you concerned about the environmental impact your trip might have? Check out our GO Zero scheme to find out how you can reduce the carbon footprint of your trip with CarbonClick.

BYD Atto 3

Now that you’re educated on driving in New Zealand with a Chinese licence, all that’s left to do is browse our full fleet of vehicles, shop the best deals currently available and secure your booking! New Zealand is waiting for you.