For 12 months from the date you enter, you can drive in New Zealand on a UK driving licence without needing to apply for an international driving licence. If you stay longer than 12 months, you will need to transfer your licence to a New Zealand driver’s licence. Unfortunately, the UK provisional driving licence is the equivalent of a learner’s licence and does not permit you to drive in New Zealand.
What are the limitations of driving in New Zealand with my UK licence?
With so many places to research, restaurants to book and activities to plan, it can be easy to jump straight into enthusiastically planning your itinerary. As with any trip, it is necessary to understand the rules of the place you are visiting, especially for a self-drive holiday. We have put together all the limitations you need to be aware of before you get GOing with your New Zealand road trip.
- You do not need to apply for an international driving permit
- You can drive for up to 12 months before you need to apply for a New Zealand licence.
- You must not have received a disqualification or suspension in New Zealand.
- You must carry your physical overseas driver’s licence with you at all times. If you have a licence from Ireland, you must carry all the original documents and paper counterparts.
- A UK provisional driving licence is not a valid overseas licence and therefore cannot be used to drive in New Zealand.
Whilst driving in New Zealand, your UK driving licence will be equal to a class 1 NZ licence and the weight and size limitations of the vehicles you can drive may differ. A New Zealand licence and equivalent allow you to drive a vehicle up to 6,000kg gross laden weight but in the UK you can drive a vehicle up to 3,500kg gross weight plus 8 passengers. Be assured that all the cars and vans available to hire with GO Rentals are within the New Zealand weight limit.
How do the road rules differ between New Zealand and the UK?
The UK and New Zealand are often regarded as being similar but you should still get familiar with the road rules before driving in New Zealand. Even on an adventure, you should always drive safe in New Zealand. After all, what is fun without safety?
Similarities with New Zealand Road Rules
- New Zealand also drive on the left-hand side
- It is illegal to use your mobile phone or GPS whilst driving, it must be completely hands-free, just as it is in Singapore.
- By law, every passenger must wear a seat belt.
- The roads can be steep and winding through mountainous areas, so driving slower is necessary to be safe.
- The road signs and destination signs are very similar to the UK.
- Believe it or not, New Zealand can get snowy and icy weather conditions and it is recommended to attach snow chains to your tyres in winter.
Differences with New Zealand Road Rules
- New Zealand uses the metric system so all speed limits are in kilometres.
- The rural speed limit is 100km/h in New Zealand unless a sign indicates a different limit. This is the equivalent of 62 miles per hour so you will adjust to going slower than the UK’s motorway limit of 70.
- By law, children under 7 must be properly restrained with a child seat. This differs to the UK where children under 12 need to use a booster seat.
- Under 20, there is a strictly enforced zero alcohol limit. For over 20, the limit is 50mg per 100ml of blood, which is a lot less than the 80mg allowed in the UK. It is strongly recommended that you do not drink alcohol and drive to avoid severe penalties.
- There are fewer highways in New Zealand and you can drive for kilometres on narrow roads with only a single lane in each direction.
Things to know before driving in New Zealand
Planning a road trip is nothing short of exciting, especially when you have so many New Zealand highlights to fit into your itinerary. If you are travelling for almost 24 hours from the UK to New Zealand, you will want to ensure you get the most out of your self-drive trip:
- A similar size to the UK, we think it would take 28 days to do a full road trip around New Zealand, both North and South islands. If you are coming all this way, a whole month of travelling would be worth the trip.
- But if you don’t want to spend your whole holiday driving, every city has incredible scenic drives and places to see close by. Base yourself in Wellington and see the top nearby places to visit or complete the best scenic drives from Queenstown.
- With a rental company in most airports, you could hop on a plane between each city and get an airport car rental so there are no delays to exploring this beautiful country.
Things to know before hiring a car in New Zealand
Hiring a car with GO Rentals is easy and stress-free so you can concentrate on being excited about your trip. Before you book, we should cover the essentials you may want to know about.
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.
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.
How much is petrol usually?
Petrol in New Zealand tends to be cheaper on average than in the UK. Petrol per litre is around $2.79 NZD which is equivalent to £1.47 whereas the UK average is £1.70.
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.
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 UK driver’s licence so you can focus on choosing the car for you.
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.
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.
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.
Check out all of our vehicles for rent and get GOing on your New Zealand trip of a lifetime!