Driving in New Zealand

/ / Family Immigration, Life in New Zealand

driving in new zealandWe’re willing to bet that you have a few questions around driving in New Zealand. Questions like ‘do I need a New Zealand driver’s licence?’ and ‘will I be able to drive the same type of cars if I use an overseas driver’s licence?

The good news is that we have the answers for you right here. All you have to do is continue reading.

Can I drive on New Zealand roads?

The New Zealand Transport Agency states that driving in New Zealand is legally allowed provided you:

  • Have a current and valid overseas licence or driver permit, and
  • Haven’t been given a disqualification or suspension in New Zealand, and
  • Came into New Zealand less than 12 months ago, and
  • Your overseas license is in English, or you have an accurate translation, and
  • You haven’t been granted a New Zealand driver’s licence since you last entered New Zealand.

If you do not meet all of these requirements, you’ll have to apply for a New Zealand driver’s licence.

For how long can I drive on my overseas driver’s licence in New Zealand?

You’re allowed to drive for a maximum period of 12 months from the date you arrive in New Zealand.
If you’ll be in New Zealand for more than a year, you’ll need to get a New Zealand driver’s licence. If your overseas licence is still current, or has expired less than 12 months ago, you can apply to convert it to a New Zealand’s licence.

What type of vehicles can I drive on my overseas driver’s licence?

As the holder of a valid overseas driver’s licence, you’re considered to hold a New Zealand driver’s licence of a class that allows you to drive the motor vehicles you are allowed to drive under you overseas licence:

  • Full overseas driver’s licence: This licence is equivalent to New Zealand class 1 driver’s licence and allows you to drive a car or light vehicle with a gross laden weight of no more than 6000kg.
  • Learner, restricted or provisional driver’s licence: The weight limit will be lower than for a full driver’s licence.
  • Full overseas motorcycle licence: This licence is equivalent to a New Zealand class 6 licence and allows you to drive any size motorcycle.
  • Learner, restricted or provisional motorcycle licence: You can only ride specific motorcycles approved under the Licence Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS).

If your car, motorcycle or heavy vehicle (truck) licence has specified weights or limits which differ from New Zealand classes, the New Zealand Transport Agency recommends that you adhere to the equivalent New Zealand weight limits or, if you’re unsure, obtain a New Zealand driver’s licence.

What are the road rules when driving in New Zealand?

New Zealand’s Road Code is a comprehensive guide to road rules for all types of vehicles as well as cyclists.

However, most important to know is that New Zealanders drive on the left side of the road. This might take a little getting used to if you’re accustomed to driving on the right side of the road.

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