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Cars in
New Zealand

 If you have an international drivers license, you will be able to use it for the period of 12 months from the date in which you arrived in New Zealand. After this period you will need to take out a NZ Drivers license, which means taking a written test and also most likely a practical test as well( valid for 10 years). The streets are very well signed and normally in excellent condition, and the road rules are few and simple. However if you have never driven on the English side (the right side of the car) the first week driving could prove to be between life and death hehe..No but seriously you do need to be extra careful. Many people just get confused and it's very important in the weeks that you get to drive on the wrong side of the road, for you to pay especial attention. Along the motorway or freeway it's not so difficult as you can just follow the car in front, but in the larger cities on intersections and roundabouts, that's when things could turn. For this reason we like to recommend for those who are not confident on the English side, to take one or two driving lessons just to be on the safe side. A driving lesson will probably set you back NZ$80, and all you will need to do is you call up explain your situation and book a time. You can buy a driving manual with all the NZ road rules at most newsagents, book stores, or convenience stores for around NZ$9. Also always remember to have your drivers license on you.

If you don't have a drivers license you will not be able to drive, except a bicycle, even so you will need to wear a helmet otherwise you will be looking at a NZ$60 fine. In New Zealand you are able to take out a license at the age of 16, but the system is divided into 3 stages and you will not be able to just get in the car and start driving at 16. The first stage is the Learners, which you are able to get by passing a written test, and allows you to drive only with a person who has their full license sitting next to you. The second stage is called restricted license, and you get this license after passing a practical test and after you have you learners for at least 6 months. At this stage you are allowed to drive on your own, but you only have restricted points on you license (4 points), which mean you have to be very careful as you could easily loose those points. You must have a blood alcohol of 0 if you are driving (you will loose you license even if you only had one drink and then you drive) and cannot be driving between 10 pm and 5 am unless with a supervisor on the passenger seat (eg. someone with a full license). The last stage is the full license, and can be taken after 18 months of driving experience and after passing the full license test. The full license gives you the full amount of points (12 points) and there are no restrictions on the times you are allowed to be on the road. With a full license you are allowed to have a drink and then drive as long as your blood alcohol level is below the legal limit.

Drinking and driving with any license is illegal and a crime. You will need to be aware that the law is precise: if you're an adult the legal blood alcohol limit for driving is no more than 0.05% ,50 milligrams of alcohol for every 100mls of blood, which roughly translates to two mid-strength beer, or a glass of wine, or a standard dose of spirit . If you are under 20 you shouldn't drink any alcohol before you drive. If you are over the limit and you are caught driving you could face a very heavy fine, loss of license, a court appearance and depending how much over you are and how serious the offence, even end up in jail. If you are involved in a crash and you are above the limit, (and depending on the severity of the outcome of the crash, you could face very long jail time or at the very least your insurance will not be valid and will be cancelled, meaning you will need to fork out the all costs in relation to the accident. So as you can see the risk is great for drink driving, so the best thing to so is either to nominate a designated driver who will not be drinking, or just to pay for a taxi. If you are involved in a crash (if you were at fault or not) the correct procedure in New Zealand is to firstly communicate with the police within 24 hours of the accident, you must communicate to the insurance company as well. You will need to answer all questions, but you are not obligated to declare if you were at fault (insurance companies normally will ask their clients to never admit fault). The police will conduct an investigation to come to a decision as to who was at fault.

Buying and selling cars in New Zealand is not very hard process. Many choose when selling their car to put a for sale sign and drive their car normally until they sell it. The first point of reference for buying or selling a car is always the newspaper, but there are many other ways as well. In New Zealand there are many specific places where you can negotiate car deals such as markets and auctions, and thousands of second car dealerships where you could try as well. All cars sold by a dealership are required to have a warrant of fitness, which is a certificate that guarantees the car to be in a safe condition to be on the road.All cars that are more then 2 years old are also required to make two inspections per year. A car without a warranty of fitness cannot be registered or transferred. So the rule applies both to dealerships and private sales. Be careful when buying a really cheap car that was advertised on the papers, as many of these cars are not registered, or they are not able to pass the warranty of fitness, and without those two things you are able to buy no car. You can buy some very cheap cars (NZ$500 - 1000) but you will run the risk of it not even making around the block. For around NZ$3000 you are able to get a pretty decent car from a second hand dealer, which probably will not cause you any problems any time soon.

Note: The Automobile Association (AA) is an organization that offers road - side emergency assistance in case your car refuses to be a car. Flat batteries, locked keys, overheating, tows etc. are just some of the services the AA has to offer. The annual cost is NZ$99 in Auckland or NZ$87 on other parts of the country.

Nota : There are some sites to help you drive in NZ:
Tourism NZ
NZ Transport Agency
Driving Test -

Costs of keeping a Car in NZ 

- New Car – from NZ$ 13000

- Used Car – from NZ$ 2000 

- Registration per year average- NZ$ 500

- Warrant of Fitness – twice per year, NZ$ 60 each time

- Insurance - NZ$ 380/ per year (click here to know details about insurance in NZ)

Read more about Rent a Car in New Zealand...
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