If you have a full German driver licence, you can drive in New Zealand for 12 months following your entry. After 12 months, you will need to transfer to a New Zealand licence to continue to drive.

If you have received your German driver licence in the last 2 years, you are on a probationary licence. You must adhere to the rules of your probation period while driving in New Zealand. Holders of German probationary licences are not able to hire cars with GO Rentals.

German Flag

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

Planning a self-driving holiday in a foreign country is exciting, but wrapping your head around the relevant regulations can be confusing and overwhelming. To help simplify things for you, we’ve assembled a complete guide to the rules you must follow while driving in New Zealand with a German licence:

  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 NZTA approved 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, embassy or consulate, and the authority that issued your German driving licence.
  6. If you are on a probationary German driver licence, you must adhere to the conditions of your licence.

Vehicle limitations

A full overseas licence is equivalent to a New Zealand class 1 licence, which allows you to drive a vehicle up to 6,000kg gross laden weight. This is in contrast to the maximum weight of 3,500kg allowed when you are driving in Germany.

Be assured that all the cars and vans available to hire with GO Rentals are within the weight limit.

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

There are a number of differences between driving in New Zealand and driving in Germany. It is critically important you familiarise yourself with these differences before your trip to New Zealand.

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 your mobile phone whilst driving. The use of a mobile phone must be completely hands-free, just as it is in Germany.
  3. The default urban and rural speed limits in both New Zealand and Germany are the same; 50km/h and 100km/h respectively. This excludes any road with an otherwise signposted speed limit.
  4. There are similar geographical elements that affect the roads in New Zealand and Germany. Mountainous roads necessitate slower speeds, while driving in snowy and icy conditions often requires snow chains to be attached to your car.

Differences with New Zealand road rules

  1. In New Zealand, you must drive on the left-hand side of the road. In Germany, you must drive on the right-hand side.
  2. Germany’s federal highway system, known as the autobahn, features large stretches with no maximum speed limit. No such road exists in New Zealand. The maximum speed limit you will find on any New Zealand road is 110km/h.
  3. In New Zealand, any child under the age of 7 must be restrained in a child seat. In Germany, any child under the age of 12 and less than 150cm tall must be restrained in a child seat.
  4. In both New Zealand and Germany, the regular limit for blood alcohol content is 50mg per 100ml of blood. However, the countries have different rules for whom this regular limit applies. In New Zealand, anyone under the age of 20 must have a BAC of 0. In Germany, any drivers on their 2-year probationary licence must have a BAC of 0.
  5. Road signs are different in New Zealand and Germany. Before travelling to New Zealand, familiarise yourself with the country’s road signs.

Car driving in Wellington New Zealand

Things to know before driving in New Zealand

One of the best ways to experience New Zealand is by hiring a car and exploring everything it has to offer at your own pace. Public transport in New Zealand is not as extensive as it is in Germany, particularly in regional areas. This is one reason why tourists and locals often choose self-driving holidays.

At GO Rentals, we like to think we know a thing or 2 about driving around New Zealand. Here are a few things to keep in mind before embarking on your road trip.

  1. There are plenty of resources you can access to help you prepare to drive throughout New Zealand. Visitors planning major road trips should take special consideration of these resources. For more information, check our complete guide to driving in New Zealand.
  2. Queenstown is arguably the tourist capital of New Zealand. If it’s on your itinerary, check out 8 incredible scenic drives you can take from the destination, including Arrowtown, Glenorchy and more.
  3. How about taking a full-blown road trip? It’s an amazing, low-cost way to explore what New Zealand has to offer. One of our favourites is an itinerary taking you from Lake Tekapo to Christchurch.

Things to know before hiring a car in New Zealand

Here are a few essential pieces of information to keep in mind before you book your hire car.

Can you drop your car off at a different location?

Yes, if you decide to set out on a Kiwi road trip, you can easily book ahead to drop your rental car off at any of our GO Rental locations in New Zealand.

How much is petrol usually?

Petrol is significantly cheaper in New Zealand than in Germany. A litre of petrol in Germany costs around €1.8 (USD$1.94). In New Zealand, a litre of petrol costs approximately $2.58 NZD (USD$1.56). 

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

Per our policy, all vehicles must be returned with a full tank of petrol. However, if you are for any reason 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.

Will you need insurance?

GO Rentals includes 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. You are able to cover your excess with a third-party insurance policy or travel insurance. This involves paying the full amount and subsequently claiming compensation from your insurer.

What’s the best car for you?

There is no single car which is best for everybody. That’s why we have a range of vehicles for you to select the perfect car for your needs. Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting your rental car.


GO Rentals offers a full fleet of Model 3 and Model Y Tesla electric cars, allowing you to explore New Zealand’s natural beauty with the knowledge that you’re doing what it takes to protect it.

Tesla Model 3

Road trips

A road trip throughout New Zealand is an experience you’ll never forget. If this is what you have on the agenda for your holiday, check out our guide to the best rental cars for family road trips.

Rav 4 roadtrip

Short drives

If your trip will consist solely of spending time in a highly urbanised area, you probably won’t be making very many long drives. A smaller car is perfect to save on costs and lower your carbon footprint. Check out our Auckland City car hire location to find the most efficient vehicle for you.

White Toyota Yaris

Now that you’ve got all the information you need for a brilliant self-driving trip around New Zealand, you can check out our full fleet of vehicles here, as well as the hottest deals available now.