New Zealand by car
is for sure one of the best experiences you can have in
this beautiful country. The roads in new Zealand are in
very good shape. Pot wholes are quickly fixed even before
it gets large enough to eat you and your car alive.
Anyway, one must remember that in new Zealand one drive at
the left side of the road, or the same as in mother
England. If you don't feel confident driving in the
English hand, you can take a 2 hour practical driving
training with a driving school after your arrival. Just
tell the instructor where you came from and that you want
to drive in the "wrong hand". Two hours later I
guarantee you'll be driving better than any kiwi.
thing to remember is
that New Zealanders drive like sheep, meaning they follow
each other on the road, for endless boring kilometres. So,
if your are from a country which changing lanes every 2
seconds is the norm, suicidal over takings are a fun
gamble, or ad another zero to the speed limit sign is
exciting, know in advance that in New Zealand these things
are not permitted. The use of seat belts are compulsory
for all passenger in a car and police reinforce all these
rules with fines that will make you cry tears big enough
to fill the Amazon river. Once one drives with responsibility
there is nothing much to worry about when driving in New
are some tips about the roads in New Zealand
we think you should know before you go. The first tip
regards the fact New Zealand is a very mountainous
country. So expect many curves and bends as well as ups
and down hills. I don't know the reason, but the road
engineers of New Zealand decided to place the most beautiful
landscapes and breathtaking views just at the middle of
the curves. This mean that if you don't turn your neck
(and eyes) away from the landscape when dealing a curve,
chances are you will end up in a vast green pasture with a
sheep liking your face. The beauty of New Zealand has an
extreme capacity to distract even the most concentrated
drivers while beautiful sceneries are made to pause and
appreciate, so this is what we recommend to everyone
driving in New Zealand.
second tip is about
the wideness of the roads and safe pull-over areas. New
Zealand engineers decided that a continuous white line
located each side of the road dotted with another line in
the middle was enough to call it a road. For some obscure
reason there is nothing else beyond theses continuous
white lines except grass, trees, a precipice, or rock
walls. So if you need an emergency stop or even a stop to
shoot some pictures, you'll have to wait until you find a
spot beside the road large enough to accommodate you
vehicle and its four legs outside the danger area. In some
roads there are no available areas at all, in some other
road, the only solution is to stop with two wheels on the
bush and two wheels on what was left of bitumen beyond the
white continuous line. Of course many roads in New Zealand
are not like, but I will risk to say that half are.
third tip is about
driving in winter time, specially in the South Island and
on the Desert Road (north Island), passing lake Taupo
bound to Wellington. These roads can get frosts during
winter months or even outside these months around the
first hours of the day and after sunset. What happens is
that a thin layer of ice cover the bitumen. It is no white
in the shade, just the opposite. Usually the driver don't
see it, except if a ray of light is spotted on it. These
frosts on the road are slippery as grease, so, the best
recommendation is if the weather is very cold, reduce your
speed, specially early morning. The road department, the
police, some tourist information centres, and the radio of
you car, are places where you can get information about
the conditions of the roads, including if the road is open
or not due avalanches, land slides, and others.
number Four - Is there
any advantage to cross the Cook straight and take the
rental car in the ferry or not? Usually not !. It is much
cheaper leave the car and cross the ferry as a passenger
and then rent again in the other side (sometimes with the
same company). The exception will be the case of many
people travelling together carrying big loads of luggage.
It is a convenience matter of course.
Five - If you have
let's say 7, 15, or 21 day to travel New Zealand what we
recommend is...Supposing you are arriving in Auckland and
you want to rent a car to travel down the North island and
after the South Island till Queenstown or whatever town.
What we do NOT recommend is to go and come back by car
(campervan or motorhome) unless you have more time than
that. Why? Because the road you go down is basically the
same you will have to take to come back again to Auckland
(with a few variants). What we recommend and will save you
a lot of money is to fly from Auckland to Queenstown and
rent a car to drop it off in Picton. Then you rent another
car in Wellington and explore the North Island to drop the
car off in Auckland. Doing so, you will travel mostly in
only one direction being able and having more time to
explore better side roads and localities of interest.
New Zealand by car
is a great option and can be mixed with plane , train and
bus if you wish. It is very safe if you take care and
follow the road rules. Just make sure you understand
well the topography of New Zealand because due its mountainous
terrain sometimes it takes much longer than it appears on
the map to go from A to B. Along the way and beside the
roads there are often rest areas with picnic table for you
to have a break from the road. If tired stop and rest
specially if you're not familiar with driving in the wrong
side of the road.
- Have a
warm jacket, a raincoat or/and an umbrella for prompt use
in the boot of the car. Temperatures and weather can
change without notifications to the weather bureau.
Police have speed radars in many roads of New Zealand.
Speed limit is 50 km/h in build up areas and 100 Km/h on open
roads except if a sign says something different.
- A driving
license from your country is valid for 3 months in New
Zealand (or Is it 6 months?) Anyway, if not in English
bring a translation. Seat belts are compulsory all over
the country and small children must seat in a special
chair with seat belts (supplied by the rental companies).
and driving is a No No in New Zealand. It is taken very seriously
and can lead to prison or heavy fines depending how drunk
the driver is. Breath tests are common on intercity roads
and urban roads as well.
- In case
of accident the police must be notified in 48 hours or
your insurance claim may not proceed.
besides the cautions and following the rules, as we said
before New Zealand is a great and easy country to travel
by car. You won't forget. Have a nice and safe trip.
info about Car Rentals in NZ