From my extensive experience as a tour coach driver, I can often pick the newbie’s to New Zealand, folk struggling with the New Zealand road rules while they are on their New Zealand campervan holiday. The telltale signs are the way they are reacting on the road, speed, indecision not sure which lane they should be in etc. So let me update you and help on a few of those driving issues.
In New Zealand, we drive on the left-hand side of the road and many times we see drivers taking off from a scenic photo shoot location or an attraction on the WRONG side of the road. To help combat this the New Zealand Transport Agency have taken to painting big white arrows pointing in the direction as to which way you should be travelling in if on that side of the road.
If you come from a country that drives on the right-hand side of the road then can I perhaps suggest you put a sign up where it will be very noticeable when driving, to remind you to keep to the left-hand side of the road at all times. Always remember the centre line should always be on your right shoulder.
Remember that the Weather in New Zealand may differ from where you live so be sure to find out what the weather is likely to be.
New Zealand Road Rules – Signalling at roundabouts.
This is a relatively new rule in New Zealand and as a professional driver, I get annoyed at people who do not signal correctly. or in plenty of time.
Basically, the rule is:-
If you are approaching a roundabout and wanting to exit by virtually travelling straight through, the only signal you are required to give is a left-hand signal once you have entered the roundabout and before you take the exit.
However, if the exit is past 180 degrees of your entry line then you need to give a right-hand signal before entering the roundabout and again a Left hand signal before you exit at the appropriate time and place.
If you wish to take the first exit off the roundabout then you need to signal a left-hand turn before entering the roundabout. Sounds all quite complex but really is very straightforward.
The diagrams of New Zealand Road Rules below should help you.
New Zealand Road Rules – Turning right at intersections
The rule is:-
If turning right Give Way to all oncoming and left turning traffic.
If turning right at the top of a TEE intersection Give Way to all traffic
The maximum speed limit in New Zealand
The New Zealand road rules state the maximum speed you can travel in New Zealand is 100 km/hr on motorways/freeways or open country roads and will be indicated by either of these signs.
Recommended Cornering speed signs
When approaching a corner quite often there is a sign showing the direction and recommended speed for the corner. These numbers always end in a 5 e.g. 35, 45, 75, 85 km/hr, whilst legal speed limits are always in tens, 30, 50, 70, 80 90, 100 km/hr etc.
A stop sign means to come to a complete stop in such a place as to be able to clearly see in all directions before proceeding.
Give Way Sign
A give-way sign means slow down but not necessarily stop, make sure the way is clear to go ahead and then continue if safe to do so.
One Way Bridge Signs
When driving in New Zealand you will come across many One Way bridges, especially in the South Island. The sign above on the left means, be ready to stop if another vehicle is either on the bridge or approaching it.
The sign above on the right means, You have the right of way, the oncoming vehicle SHOULD Give Way.
Word of caution! ALL WAYS BE PREPARED TO STOP
The New Zealand Driving Rules – Alcohol Limits
If you are Under twenty years of age
The legal alcohol limit is zero.
If you are twenty years of age or over
You must not drive if you have consumed more than the legal alcohol limit, which is 250 micrograms per litre of breath or 50 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood.
In conclusion: taraffic-
Apart from these few examples, the NZ road laws are relatively straight forward and not dissimilar to your own countries. Keep left, don’t drink and drive and be mindful of other traffic behind you. Slower campervans can be quite frustrating to other road users, I strike it all the time, so find a SAFE place to pull over and let thetrafficpass. Most of the time they will give you a thank you toot or flash their hazard lights a couple of times.
A good page to visit, especially in the winter is the NZTA Highway Conditions pages
Happy motoring and I hope this guide has been of help regarding understanding the New Zealand Driving Rules and driving whilst on your New Zealand campervan holiday.
Recommended additional information
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