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Our Easy Guide to Driving in New Zealand

Our Easy Guide to Driving in New Zealand

Learning how to drive in any new country can be a challenge. Not only do all countries have their own specific, sometimes idiosyncratic, road rules – but every place you go has its own unique driving culture as well.

The team at Pacific Auto has put together this guide to help you get the hang of driving in NZ. If you need to know more, have a chat with us about local road rules when you pick up your rental car hire in Tauranga.

To the Left, to the Left

In New Zealand, we drive on the left-hand side of the road. For visitors from Australia, England, or India that’s nice and normal. However, for people arriving from the USA, Canada, Brazil, Russia, or most anywhere else, it can be a difficult adjustment.

An easy rule of thumb is to remember that if you are in the correct lane, the driver should be closest to the centre line while the passenger is closer to the edge of the road. Listening to Beyoncé’s 2006 smash hit ‘Irreplaceable’ while driving might also help.

Seatbelts Are Mandatory

Seat-belt laws vary between different countries, and even between states within countries. In New Zealand, we are firm believers that seatbelts play an important role in saving lives and that’s reflected in our compulsory seatbelt laws.

All passengers in your vehicle must be wearing a seatbelt at all times. Children under seven must be use an approved child restraint.


Most roads in NZ are narrow and winding, with only two lanes driving in opposite direction. There are usually passing lanes provided at regular intervals to help you get around slow drivers. It is legal to overtake without a designated lane, however the following rules do apply:

●       Always indicate before overtaking.

●       If there is a solid yellow line on your side of the centre lines, you cannot overtake at all – double yellow lines mean neither lane can overtake.

●       Never overtake on or near a corner, as this can become dangerous very quickly.

●       If you are on a straight road and there is no solid yellow line, you can overtake if there is at least 100 metres between you and any oncoming cars.


Slow Driving Etiquette

If you are driving slowly for any reason and notice traffic backing up and queuing behind you, find somewhere safe to pull over at your nearest convenience. This will allow the other cars to pass; frustration and driving are not a good mix!

Speed Limits in NZ

Speed limits vary throughout NZ, so keep an eye out for circular white and red signs that indicate the limits in a given area. If no signs are visible, the rule of thumb is 100 km/h on rural roads and 50 km/h in built-up areas. There are also bright yellow signs indicating temporary speed changes, such as slowing down for a sharp corner.

Always remember to obey the speed limit in NZ as they help to keep yourself, pedestrians, and other drivers safe

Stop or Give Way

At a red octagonal Stop Sign, you must come to a complete stop and give way to any traffic before continuing. Even if you don’t think there is any traffic, you must still stop. At triangular red and white Give Way signs you must slow down and give way to traffic; but stopping is not mandatory if the way is clear.

Rental Cars

Rental Cars

Here at Auto Pacific Rentals, we pride ourselves on offering a very diverse range of rental cars for hire. This means we have the right car for you, whether you’re in town for pleasure, work, or adventure.

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Van Rentals

Van Rentals

We have a range of vechiles/ vans from 8, 9 and 10 seaters all our 8-10 seaters are AUTOMATIC and economical. Great for day outtings or a family trip away.

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Truck Rentals

Truck Rentals

We have a selection of moving trucks for hire in Tauranga. Whether you’re moving house, shifting furniture, or transporting goods, you’ll find the truck you need right here.

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Port of Tauranga Cruise Ship Special

Tourism NZ Endorsed Visitor Transport Operator

Pacific Auto Rentals Family Business