NZ Roads & Traffic Conditions

New Zealand does not have a lot of long, straight roads and we have relatively few motorways. Most roads are single lane in each direction, without barriers in the middle. Many are narrow, hilly and have sharp or unexpected turns. You may also encounter loose gravel roads, and livestock. When planning your trip, allow enough time to have a break every two hours - drivers need to be alert. Travel time and distance calculator

for an online Travel Time and Distances calculator - it will also show a map of your route (we suggest you treat the estimated driving time as the minimum driving time). You can also check on Traffic and Road Closures on the NZTA website.

NZ Road Rules

It is extremely important to understand New Zealand Road Rules, Speed Limits, Traffic Signs and Signals. See the official New Zealand Road Code (New Zealand Transport Authority website).

You can also download the NZTA ‘Booklet for Overseas Drivers’ (PDF); in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, or Arabic.

Below are the main Speed Limit Signs you will see in New Zealand. NB: If you are driving and not feeling confident enough to drive to the speed limit, find a safe place to pull over and let following traffic pass.

  • Maximum speed limit for urban areas is 50km/h
  • Maximum speed on the open road is 100km/h
  • Open Road: The maximum speed is 100km/h but drive to the conditions

One Way Bridge

The simplest summary is to look for the sign as you approach a one-lane bridge: a red circle means YOU must give way; a blue rectangle means that other vehicles should give way to you. Learn more about giving way on one lane bridges.

Driver License Requirement

Please note: to drive any of PSV Rentals hire vehicles, the driver/s must hold a full ‘Class 1’ drivers licence. An International Driver’s Permit is required by law in New Zealand if the Licence is not in English. If the driver is intending to be rewarded or paid for driving, they also need a 'P' Passenger Endorsement and a 'PSL' Passenger Service Licence. Click here for NZ Transport Agency Drivers Licence information.