International Driving Licence * Driving Test * Written Test * Practical Test
You are allowed to drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months using either an International Driving Permit or your current overseas driving licence. After that you will need to get a New Zealand driving licence.
Drivers from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America do not have to sit any driving tests but must have a current overseas licence (or has expired within the last 12 months) and pass an eyesight test. The cost in 2019 of an overseas licence conversion is $52.10.
Drivers from other countries must pass an eyesight test and both a written and practical driving test before getting a NZ licence. The cost in 2019 of obtaining a NZ licence is $157.70, including test fees.
Driving – Key Points for Overseas Drivers and New Residents
Driving licences are generally valid for ten years. For drivers over 75 you need to have a medical certificate to renew your licence. The new licence is valid for between two to five years.
You must carry your licence with you at all times when driving. If you are stopped by the Police, and do not have your licence with you, you will be fined.
If your licence is not in English, you should get an International Driving Permit or bring an official, English translation of your licence with you. Further licensing details are available from the Land Transport Safety Authority.
Vehicles drive on the left side of the road.
It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile while driving unless you have a hands-free device. Writing, reading or sending text messages is also prohibited.
When turning at traffic signals you should give way to pedestrians crossing the road. There is often no dedicated (all vehicles stopped from all directions) green man at pedestrian crossings in New Zealand and pedestrians rely on turning traffic to stop to allow them to cross.
Seat belts and child restraints are compulsory.
Avoid unsealed roads if possible and if you have to drive on them drive slowly as they can be dusty and loose chips can damage your windscreen.
You can only park on a roadside in the same direction as the traffic flow. Otherwise you may be fined or towed away. You can park in either direction on one-way streets.
The urban speed limit is usually 50 kph (31 mph). Elsewhere it’s usually 100 kph (62 mph).
Be aware of rail crossings. Only half of New Zealand’s 1500 rail crossings have automatic alarms.
Driving Times between the Main Cities
From Auckland to:
Christchurch:14hrs 20mins plus ferry crossing* from Wellington to Picton
Hamilton: 1hr 55mins
Wellington: 9hrs 20mins
Napier: 6hrs 30mins
Tauranga: 3hrs 20mins
From Christchurch to:
Auckland: 14hrs 20mins plus ferry crossing* from Picton to Wellington
Blenheim: 4hrs 35mins
Nelson: 6hrs 20mins
Queenstown: 7hrs 15mins
Wellington: 5hrs plus ferry crossing* from Picton to Wellington
From Wellington to:
Auckland: 9hrs 20mins
Christchurch: 5hrs plus ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton*
Hamilton: 7hr 20mins
Napier: 5hrs 10mins
Tauranga: 7hrs 35mins
Whangarei: 12hrs 15mins
* Ferry crossing time is normally 3hrs or 2hrs 15mins using The Lynx, a fast catamaran.