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About New Zealand (NZ)

Located in Oceania, New Zealand has a unique geography—the country is broken up into two main parts, the North Island and the South Island, and also has a group of associated islands. Largely unspoiled, it offers breathtaking nature that is an unparalleled treat for nature lovers. With excellent roads and a wide network of hotels and charming bed and breakfasts, New Zealand is the perfect place to rent a car and plan the road trip of a lifetime.

On the North Island, you will find the capital Wellington and the cosmopolitan city of Auckland. Don’t miss Tongariro National Park, which offers skiing, active volcanoes and the world-famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike; the park is an important site for the Maori people. On the North Island you can also find the Bay of Islands, Rotorua, and the Lord of the Rings movie set “Hobbiton.” The South Island has equally spectacular attractions and national parks, including Fiordland National Park, Abel Tasman National Park and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.

  Getting around

Note that in New Zealand, you drive on the left side of the road. There are few multi-lane highways; most of the roads have two lanes, one in each direction. As the weather can change quickly, it’s important to be well-prepared and carefully study your route. The roads can vary in quality, and at some points they become quite narrow and steep. You should therefore plan on driving slowly, and count more time than you would expect to arrive at your destination.

  Choosing your car

Major New Zealand car rental providers include Hertz, Avis and Enterprise. If you have several people in party, opt for a spacious mid-size car such as an SUV, or an even larger option such as a 7—12 person mini van or people mover. A compact car, from a brand such as Mitsubishi or Hyundai, is a great New Zealand cheap car rental choice for couples or solo travelers.

  Tips and advice


To travel between the North and South Islands, you can take a car ferry. Be sure, however, to check with the rental company beforehand, as some companies may not allow you to take your NZ car hire on a ferry.


Note that you are not allowed to use a mobile device while driving your car rental in New Zealand.


New Zealand’s Transport Agency has an online Journey Planner, a handy tool that includes current information about road closures and up-to-date travel times.


Similarly, before arriving in New Zealand, you can read the rules of the road, as well as a booklet for overseas drivers. Both of these resources are also available on the New Zealand Transport Agency website.


If you are bringing any outdoor sports equipment, be sure to book a car rental that is spacious enough for all your gear. Ski racks and snow chains are usually readily available for car rental companies servicing the New Zealand ski resorts.


You may encounter animals, such as herds of sheep, on the roads of New Zealand. Stay alert when driving and adjust your speed if need be.

Urban Speed Limit


50 kph  | 31.1 mph
Rural Speed Limit


100 kph  | 62.1 mph
Motorway Speed Limit


100 kph  | 62.1 mph
Fuel Price




Road Driving


Driving Age


18 years of age
21 years of age to RENT
Emergency Services


Documentation requirements



New Zealand Driving Ideas Guide

For a small country it packs almost every variation of topography, and for a visitor it really boils down to what type of environment is preferred.  Being just around 1600 km (1000 miles) from end to end, many make the mistake that they will see it all within a vacation period and although it’s possible, the frequency of points of interest along the way would provide a frenetic holiday.  A definite asset is a New Zealand car rental that lets you decide when to move on.  So let’s move on.


We start in the north where the climate is the country’s best (remember New Zealand is south of the equator) and an area known for its gorgeous beaches and stunning landscapes, where a mountain can suddenly rise out of a flat meadowland.  This is also where the Maori, New Zealand’s indigenous people, first settled and their culture and values are still prominent in this country as identified in many town and attraction names.  In the seaside town of Gisborne, an immediate sense of relaxation comes over the weary traveller with a good selection of New Zealand accommodations.  Many movies have taken advantage of this setting and by being situated about half way on the North Island it is ideal as a base from which to explore.

Rotorua, 287 km (178 miles), is an up close experience with the country’s geology of being a volcanic island with having plenty of geyser and hot spring activity.  Tolaga Bay, 54 km (34 miles), has practically any outdoor activity you want either on shore or in the water with a stunning backdrop of rugged terrain, and be sure to walk the Tolaga Bay Wharf that seems to stretch forever into the ocean.  Instagram this!


The capital city offers a challenge…where to eat?  There are oodles of places to choose so decide well, my friend.  Many establishments are located on hip Cuba Street and do the responsible social media thing by getting a picture in front of the Bucket Fountain.  A ride on the iconic Wellington Cable Car is a must-do, and at the top is a lookout over the harbour, city and an impressive landscape that includes Mount Victoria where ‘Lord of the Rings’ was partly filmed.

New Zealand is a major wine-producing country and in Wairarapa, 74 km (46 miles), discover award-winning vintages, culinary masterpieces and what local breweries are doing with their malted beverages. In Cape Palliser Bay, 138 km (86 miles), observe a fur seal colony with animals lining roadsides and visit the historic lighthouse.


On the South Island, this city is both fun and fascinating by offering stunning architecture with equally stunning eateries and entertainment, and a plethora of wildlife that will have eco-tourists in their blissful element.  It’s virtually impossible to have a day go by without seeing some interesting and even unique wildlife that makes the Otaga Peninsula their home, including the world’s smallest penguin that weighs around one kilogram.

To get a full appreciation of the singularity of wildlife in the area, a trip to Orokunui Ecosanctuary, 20 km (12 miles) will introduce you to some rare species.   If a beach day is in order, there are a number of fantastic ones to choose from such as the romantic Tunnel Beach, 6 km (4 miles), with its eroded arched rock; Sandfly Bay Beach, 15 km (9 miles), which has nothing to do with any kind of insect but is all about large dunes; Brighton Beach, 20 km (12 miles) in a small town of the same name, and many others.

Then there are the glaciers on the other side of South island, but that’s for another visit when once again your Cheaperthancars rental vehicle and accommodations through Cheaperthanhotels will help you realize the affordability of a New Zealand trip.

Your Cheaperthancars Team


New Zealand Driving Rules and Tips

Drivers in New Zealand don’t have to know much about the country to realise that it is large, and that means big distances between towns and cities. The best way to truly appreciate the landscapes within this beautiful and natural part of the world is to drive, but of course, for foreign visitors, this can throw up all manner of questions and new rules to follow.

Let’s make it easy.


Drivers must have a valid license from their country of origin, and are able to drive for a maximum of 12 months from the date of arrival into the country. If the license is not in English, then an accurate translation called International Driver Permit (IDP) should be obtained and carried at all times. If you leave the country, and then return, your 12 months’ driving period resets itself. Also, it is a must to carry insurance while driving a rented car.

Age restrictions

The legal age of driving within New Zealand is now 16 years of age, and this applies to both natives and visitors.

Driving law

  • Drive on the left hand side of the road
  • Everyone in the car should wear a seatbelt
  • Children should always be in the back of the car
  • Do not overtake when there are yellow lines
  • Always carry license while driving
  • Always use indicator while turning
  • Mobile phones should not be used
  • Illegal to carry radar detectors

Speed limits

New Zealand’s roads are controlled with speed limits, which are monitored with plentiful speed cameras. If you are caught over the limit, it is possible that your license could be suspended on the spot for a period of time. The normal speed limits on New Zealand roads are as follows:

  • 100km/h (62mph) on highways
  • 50 km/h (31pmh) in residential areas

Of course, if signs instruct differently, then this should be adhered to taking particular care in rural or residential areas.

Drunk driving

New Zealand police are very strict with drinking and driving, and this is enforced with severe penalties for those who are caught. The drivers having blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of more than 0.08mg/100ml will be fined and might be arrested.


Parking within residential areas or city/town centres are clearly marked with regards to rules, and drivers should follow any instructions. Illegal parking is monitored and tickets/fines are given out. Only park in designated parking spaces, and these will more than likely be controlled by a meter, with pay and display the usual method. You must park on your side of the road, and not opposite the flow. If you see a sign saying ‘no parking’, don’t park as you could be spot fined.

As you can see, driving around New Zealand is quite standard, except for a few changes to rules. Be sure to familiarise yourself before you travel, and heed any signs or advice during your journey, and your road-trip throughout this beautiful, diverse country will be a memorable one indeed.


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