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New Zealand Driving Rules

Driving in New Zealand? Read on for all you need to know about New Zealand road rules, driving rules, getting an NZ driver's licence and motorcycling laws in New Zealand.

New Zealand Driving Rules

If you're planning on driving in New Zealand, you should be aware of our road rules and driving restrictions before you set out. Read on to learn the basics, or contact the Land Transport Safety Authority for more information.

New Zealand Driving Licences 

If you have a current overseas driving licence or an international driving permit you can drive for one year after you first arrive in New Zealand.

After a period of one year you must apply for a New Zealand driver's licence – you will have to pass a theory test, and depending on your country of origin, a practical test.

Speed Limits in New Zealand

50 km/h (urban)
70km/h (urban)          
100 km/h (open road)
Open Road
Open Road (100km/h)
Limited Speed Zone
You can drive at the Open Road speed limit but must reduce speed when weather is bad, visibility poor or there are people/animals on the road

Reduce speed to 20km/h
School Bus  
Reduce speed to 20km/h when passing a stationary school bus

New Zealand Traffic Signals

Red Light  
Red light means stop
Red Arrow  
Red Arrow means no turning if travelling in direction of arrow
Yellow Light  
Amber light means the lights are about to turn red. Stop if you can do so safely
Yellow Arrow
Amber Arrow means arrow is about to turn red. If travelling in direction of arrow, stop if you can safely
Green Light  
Green light means go; if turning follow the Give Way rules and give way to pedestrians crossing on a CROSS light
Green Arrow
Green Arrow means turn with care, if travelling in the direction of arrow
Flashing Yellow  
Flashing amber light means the traffic signals are not working; apply the Give Way rules  

New Zealand Road Signs

Give Way  

Give way to all vehicles except those that have stopped at a Stop sign. Follow the Give Way rules.


Stop Sign

You must stop. Stay stopped and give way to all other vehicles. Follow the Give Way rules.


Keep Left
No Left Turn
No U Turn

Keep Left

No Left Turn

No U-Turn

Children Crossing
Slippery Surface

Look out for Children

Greasy Surfarce


Metal Surface
Road Narrows
Road Works

Metal Surface

Road Narrows

Road Works

New Zealand's Give Way Rules

  • If you are going straight ahead, give way to all vehicles coming straight through from your right.
  • If you are turning, give way to all vehicles not turning.
  • If you are turning left, you have right of way to traffic turning right.
  • If you are turning right, give way to all vehicles. If you are leaving the path of the centre line, you are turning. You must give way to vehicles that are following the centre line, or that are turning left.


  • Single lane roundabout: Give way to your right
  • Multi lane roundabout:  Give way to all vehicles that will cross your path from
    the right as you enter the roundabout

One Lane Bridges in New Zealand

  Give Way
Round sign with red border and red arrow means you  must give way to oncoming traffic.
 Right of Way
Big white arrow on blue rectangle means you can go onto the bridge first (provided there is no oncoming traffic on the bridge already).

New Zealand Driving Conditions

Wet Weather  

On slippery, wet or icy roads stick to the four-second rule: make sure you are at least 4 seconds behind the car in front. Reduce your driving speed



Dip your lights when driving in fog – if lights are on full beam they will only be reflected, hindering visibility.


Night Driving

You must use your headlights from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise. You  must dip your headlights when other vehicles come towards you and when you are following another vehicle


Seat  Belts

In New Zealand, all passengers in vehicles must wear seatbelts, and fines are regularly imposed on vehicle occupants caught without a seatbelt. So remember to buckle up!

Riding Motorcycles and Bikes in New Zealand

  • Motorcyclists and cyclists must wear helmets at all times.
  • Motorcyclists should drive with a headlight on at all times.
  • When cycling at night, rear and front cycle lights should be used.
  • Bicylces are not permitted on Motorways (Freeways).
 The Interislander ferry in the Marlborough Sounds.  The Interislander

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