It is no secret that New Zealand has some of the best sceneries in the world. This is one of the reasons why driving in the country is always a delight to one’s senses. But no matter how visually stimulating driving in New Zealand is, it is very important for foreigners to equip themselves with proper knowledge before they give this activity a shot. This way, they can avoid potential problems that could ruin their stay. Here are some important things you need to know about driving in NZ.
According to experts, driving in New Zealand requires skill and knowledge because of the country’s topography. However, drivers will be happy to know that each and every town and city in NZ are connected by well-maintained motorways and highways. Motorways are better developed and meet the criteria of westernised freeways. Highways, on the other hand, mostly consist of a single lane for each direction.
Just like when driving in other places, it is very important to be aware of traffic rules and regulations to ensure your safety. Don’t take curves too fast or speed up, especially when driving under bad weather. It was said that losing control while driving is the No 1 cause of fatal accidents on New Zealand roads.
On New Zealand’s North Island, you should watch out for logging trucks, snow and ice, unmarked railway crossings, and slips or small mud/rock avalanches that can occur after raining. You should also exercise caution when passing on narrow roads because there’s always the risk of head-on collisions.
On the South Island, be wary of snow and ice, washouts and slips, frequent single lane bridges, including several shared with trains, and the narrow Homer Tunnel at the entrance to Milford Sound. Livestock can also be a road hazard as flocks of sheep and herds of cattle may need to cross roads from time to time to reach the next pasture.
Before you can drive in New Zealand, you will have to obtain either an international driving permit issued by your country of origin or a valid driver’s licence in English. Your licence will be valid for up to 12 months. If you’re staying in the country for an extended period of time, you may need to apply for a New Zealand licence. Always remember that driving in NZ without a licence is a punishable offence. If you’re caught, you will have to pay anywhere between NZ$400 and NZ$1,000.