New Zealanders drive on the left side of the road, as do drivers in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Hong Kong, South Africa and many other countries that were formerly British colonies. This will be a change for drivers from mainland Europe, the United States and Canada.
Most English speaking countries require very similar driving skills and use very similar licensing systems to New Zealand’s, so New Zealand’s driving rules are very similar to rules in these countries. Safety belts must be worn at all times, posted speed limits must be obeyed and indicators must be used for at least three seconds before making any directional changes in your vehicle.
Two of the major differences when coming from another country are:
- New Zealand’s unique Give Way rule. When you are turning left, you must give way to vehicles that are approaching from the opposite direction and turning right, and since Auckland’s intersections often involve crossroads and roundabouts, drivers must remember to let vehicles crossing their path from the right go first.
- No left turn on red. If the traffic light is red – you must stay stopped.
It is well worth reading the NZ Road Code to ensure you fully understand the NZ driving rules.
When parking, you must park your car so that it is facing in the same direction as the traffic flow on your side of the street. Also, just because there is no meter next to a parking place does not mean it’s free! Many parking areas are “pay and display”, meaning you need to prepay for parking at a nearby machines. These machines usually take both cash and credit cards.
If you are in a car accident, you should immediately stop and make sure that no one is injured. If anyone is injured, dial 111 for an ambulance and the police.
If both cars can be driven and no one is injured, you do not need to call the police. If either car cannot be moved, even if no one is injured, call 111 for assistance.
If possible, move your car out of traffic. Exchange the following with the other driver, and/or any witnesses.
- Phone numbers
- Car registration
- Insurance company details
If you are hit by an uninsured driver, try to get as much of the following information as possible:
- the driver’s name, contact info and license number
- the car license number, make and model
- contact details for any witnesses and/or police officers on site.
Once you return to your home or office, you should notify your insurance company.
You can learn everything you need to know about the rules of the road in New Zealand at http://www.landtransport.govt.nz/roadcode/index.html.