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How to Get an International Driving Permit in New Zealand? 

An International Driving Permit is a translation of your national driving license. The IDP allows motorists to drive vehicles in foreign countries. You must always have your IDP along with your national license at all times. To get an International Driving Permit in New Zealand, visit www.aa.co.nz.

Contact:

From anywhere in New Zealand, you will be able to use the NZAA’s freephone numbers:

• 0800 500 222 from a landline 
• *222 from a mobile phone

Other New Zealand Emergency Phone Numbers:

• In an emergency dial: 111 from a landline phone or mobile phone.
• For less-serious traffic issues you can dial: *555 from a mobile phone.

For more information go to the New Zealand Automobile Association(NZAA) website: www.aa.co.nz

Brief Description of New Zealand

New Zealand is a multi-cultural country with a wide variety of landscapes including mountains, lakes and rivers, beautiful beaches, forests, and a lot of rolling farm land.  

The country has two main islands – the North Island and the South Island. Three quarters of the population live in the North Island, with most living in the top half, centred around Auckland.

Smaller Stewart Island (off the bottom of the South Island) and several other islands around the coast are wonderful places to visit.  They have small populations, limited shops and services and more basic infrastructure.

Wellington (at the bottom of the North Island) is the capital cityAuckland (near the top of the North Island) is the country’s biggest city. Christchurch (in the middle of the South Island) is the South Island’s largest city, followed by Dunedin (near the bottom).  

Particularly in the South Island, many settlements are small to very small and there can be large distances between major towns, even along some of the main highways.

Be Prepared for Travelling Around New Zealand

If you venture off a main highway in either the North or South Island, make sure you have done your research and are prepared to be somewhat self-sufficient.  There are places that may look more established on a map than they actually are.

Distances can be deceiving and it’s easy to underestimate travelling times.  The nature of our terrain and our roading network means that it can take longer to drive between distances that you think.  Plan your drives carefully.

You cannot always expect to get mobile phone or internet coverage in remote areas.

Do not plan on driving far immediately after arriving off a long flight.  Plan your trip with sensible distances between destinations because you are more likely to crash if you are tired. 

International Road Traffic Conventions 

New Zealand has signed the United Nations Convention of Road Traffic (1949)which recommends visitors have an International Driving Permit (IDP).

An IDP can be obtained in your country of residence before travelling to New Zealand.  

It proves that you hold a valid drivers licence in your home country.  It can also help protect you and your family in an event of an accident or loss of identification.

If your overseas licence or permit is not in English, you must also carry an accurate English translation.

You must have your current driver licence and/or driver permit with you at all times when you are driving.

The IDP is only valid for 12 months in New Zealand. After this you need to apply for a New Zealand driver licence.  For more information click here 

New Zealand Road Conditions

• There are not many multiple lane motorways in New Zealand.
• Many roads are narrow and winding  it’s easy to underestimate travel times.
• Outside cities, roads are mostly just two lanes – one in each direction. 
• Many areas have limited passing lanes, so you must keep an eye on traffic behind you and allow faster traffic to pass when it’s safe.
• Many smaller roads don’t have a centreline marked, but you must still always stay on the left hand side of the road.
• If you venture off main highways, roads can be unsealed/gravel.

Rules of the Road

• New Zealand roads are monitored by the Police. 
• We drive on the left-hand-side of the road.  Vehicles have the steering wheel on the right-hand side (remember the driver should always be closest to the centreline)
• The driver and all passengers must wear a seat belt.
• Speed limits are strictly enforced. Always check for speed limit signs.
– Open roads often have a 100km/h speed limit. 
– If you are driving a campervan (vehicles 3,500kg or more), you are limited to 90km/h on the open road. 
– Urban areas often have a 50km/h speed limit.
– Other speed limits are also used, for example in less built-up areas you might see 70km/h; around schools you might see 40km/h.
– Speed cameras are used to manage driver speeds and rental companies will charge you for any speeding tickets incurred while you are renting the vehicle. 
• You can overtake/pass other vehicles on their right. 
– On larger roads there will be occasional passing lanes.  Wait for these if possible.
– When there are no upcoming passing lanes, you can pass on the right if you can see the road ahead is clear of oncoming vehicles for at least 100m throughout the whole passing manoeuvre.
– Never overtake if there is a corner coming up. 
– Never overtake if there is a solid yellow centre line on your side of the road, or a double yellow centreline. 
– If there is traffic building up behind you, find a safe place to pull over to let faster vehicles pass.
• Helmets must be worn if riding a motorcycle or bicycle.

Learn More  Video Training for Visiting Drivers

The NZAA has a series of short videos to help visitors wanting to drive in New Zealand.

They show you common New Zealand driving situations and test your observation skills with multi-choice questions after each video.

It takes about 10 minutes to watch the 15 small video clips and answer the questions.  At the end you can print a certificate proving you have done the video training. Some rental companies offer a discount to travellers who show them the certificate.

• NZAA Visiting Driver Training Programme:

www.aa.co.nz/travel/getting-around/visitors-to-new-zealand/visiting-driver-training-programme/

More Information about NZ Road Rules visit this website 

Roadside Assistance 

The NZAA has a breakdown service which operates 24 hours a day. 

If you belong to an international automobile club affiliated to the FIA/AIT, and present your membership card to the NZAA when you arrive in New Zealand, you can use the NZAA breakdown service and get other benefits at no cost while you are travelling around New Zealand.