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Car Rental in New Zealand

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Renting a Car in New Zealand

When visiting New Zealand, renting a car is a convenient way to explore the stunning landscapes and unique attractions that the country has to offer. However, before hitting the road, it is important to understand the local driving laws and requirements.

Understanding Local Driving Laws

Driving in New Zealand is similar to many other countries, with the main difference being that vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road. It is important to familiarize yourself with the local road rules and signage to ensure a safe and enjoyable driving experience.

Driver’s License and Age Requirements

To rent a car in New Zealand, most rental companies require drivers to be at least 21 years old and hold a valid driver’s license from their home country. Some rental companies may also have additional age requirements and fees for drivers under 25 years old, so it is important to check the specific requirements of the rental company you choose.

Insurance and Additional Fees

When renting a car in New Zealand, it is important to consider insurance options and any additional fees that may apply. Most rental companies offer insurance packages to cover the vehicle in the event of an accident or theft, and it is recommended to carefully review and understand the terms and conditions of the insurance coverage offered.

Booking in Advance

It is advisable to book your rental car in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to ensure availability and competitive pricing. Many rental companies offer online booking options, making it easy to secure your vehicle before arriving in New Zealand.

Exploring New Zealand by Car

With its breathtaking scenery and diverse attractions, exploring New Zealand by car provides the flexibility to travel at your own pace and discover hidden gems off the beaten path. Whether it’s a road trip through the stunning landscapes of the South Island or a leisurely drive along the coast of the North Island, renting a car offers the freedom to make the most of your New Zealand adventure.

By understanding the local driving laws and requirements, as well as considering insurance options and booking in advance, renting a car in New Zealand can be a straightforward and enjoyable experience.

Rental Requirements

Age Limits

To rent a car in New Zealand, the minimum age requirement is typically 21 years old, and some car rental companies may have a maximum age limit of 75 years old.

Driving License Requirements

Visitors to New Zealand can drive with their valid overseas driver’s license for up to 12 months. If the license is not in English, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is required in addition to the original license.


When renting a car in New Zealand, you will need to provide a valid passport, a credit card for the security deposit, and a driver’s license meeting the requirements mentioned above. Additional documentation may be required by the rental company, so it’s best to check with them beforehand.

Insurance Information

When renting a car in New Zealand, it’s important to understand the insurance options available to ensure you are adequately covered during your trip.

Basic Insurance

The basic insurance typically included when renting a car in New Zealand may consist of Collision Damage Waiver and Theft Protection. Collision Damage Waiver covers damage to the rental car in the event of a collision, while Theft Protection provides coverage in case the car is stolen.

Additional Insurance

In addition to the basic insurance, there are options available for additional coverage. Personal Accident Insurance provides compensation for medical expenses and accidental death benefits for the driver and passengers. Supplemental Liability Insurance offers increased protection in the event of third-party claims for property damage or bodily injury.

Insurance Tips

Before renting a car in New Zealand, it’s recommended to check your existing travel insurance policies to see if they provide any coverage for rental vehicles. This can help you avoid purchasing duplicate coverage and potentially save on costs. Additionally, it’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions of the insurance offered by the rental car company to fully understand what is covered and any potential exclusions.

Local Driving Laws and Regulations in New Zealand

General Traffic Rules

Driving Side: In New Zealand, driving is on the left side of the road.
Speed Limits: The typical speed limits are 50 km/h in urban areas, 100 km/h on rural roads, and 100-110 km/h on highways.
Other Useful Info: Be aware of road signs and markings, and always drive within the speed limits.

Overtaking and Lane Usage

Overtaking Rules: Overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so, and always adhere to posted road signs.
Lane Discipline: Keep left unless overtaking on multi-lane roads, and be mindful of other road users.
Other Useful Info: Always use indicators when changing lanes, and be courteous to other drivers.

Seat Belt and Child Safety

Seat Belt Laws: It is mandatory for all occupants to wear seat belts, and children under 7 must be in an approved child restraint.
Child Safety: Children must use an appropriate child restraint until they are at least 7 years old.
Other Useful Info: Ensure all passengers are safely restrained before starting your journey.

Use of Mobile Phones

Mobile Phone Restrictions: It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving in New Zealand.
Other Useful Info: Use a hands-free device if you need to make a call while driving.

Alcohol and Driving

Legal Blood Alcohol Limits: The legal limit is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood for drivers 20 years and over.
Zero Tolerance Policies: Drivers under 20 and those with a learner or restricted license must have a zero alcohol limit.
Other Useful Info: Plan alternative transport if you intend to consume alcohol.

Tolls and Charges

Toll Roads: New Zealand has a few toll roads, and payment can be made either at toll booths or online.
Congestion Charges: There are no congestion charges in New Zealand at this time.
Other Useful Info: Carry sufficient change or a payment card for toll roads.

Roundabouts and Intersections

Navigating Roundabouts: Give way to traffic on your right when entering a roundabout, and always signal your intentions.
Intersection Rules: Follow the road signs and give way to vehicles as indicated.
Other Useful Info: Be cautious and patient at intersections, and be aware of pedestrians crossing.

Headlight and Windshield Wiper Laws

Headlight Usage: Use headlights at night, during rain, or when visibility is reduced.
Windshield Wiper Rule: Turn on headlights when using wipers to ensure visibility.
Other Useful Info: Keep your vehicle’s lights and wipers in good working condition.

Emergency Vehicles

Right of Way for Emergency Vehicles: Pull over and stop to allow emergency vehicles to pass safely.
Other Useful Info: Be aware of sirens and flashing lights, and clear the way for emergency vehicles.

Driving Tips for New Zealand

Road Conditions

New Zealand has a variety of road conditions, from well-maintained highways to narrow, winding roads in rural areas. It’s important to be aware of the changing terrain and adjust your driving accordingly.

Urban vs. Rural Driving

In urban areas like Auckland and Wellington, you’ll encounter heavy traffic and busy intersections. In rural areas, the roads can be narrower and winding, with potential hazards like livestock on the road. It’s important to be alert and drive cautiously in both settings.

Navigational Tips

While GPS is widely available in New Zealand, it’s also a good idea to have a physical map as a backup, especially in remote areas with limited cell service. Familiarize yourself with local road signs and be prepared for roundabouts, which are common in New Zealand.

Other Useful Tips

– Drive on the left side of the road in New Zealand.
– Follow speed limits and be aware of potential wildlife crossings, especially in rural areas.
– Take regular breaks during long drives to avoid driver fatigue.

By keeping these driving tips in mind, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience while renting a car in New Zealand.

Roadside Assistance and Emergency Procedures

Breakdown Procedures

If your rental car breaks down while you are in New Zealand, the first step is to safely pull over to the side of the road. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers, and then contact the rental company immediately to inform them of the situation. They will provide you with specific instructions on how to proceed, whether it’s waiting for roadside assistance or arranging for a replacement vehicle.

Emergency Services

In case of an emergency, it’s important to have the contact numbers for the police, ambulance, and roadside assistance readily available. The emergency number in New Zealand is 111, which will connect you to all necessary services. Additionally, make sure to have the rental company’s contact information saved in your phone for quick access.

Rental Company Policies

Most rental companies in New Zealand offer 24/7 roadside assistance as part of their services. This means that you can reach out for help at any time, day or night, if you encounter any issues with your rental vehicle. They also typically provide towing services if the car is not drivable. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific policies of your rental company before hitting the road.

Where can you Rent a Car in New Zealand?

You can browse all the city locations below, sorted alphabetically. Use Ctrl+F (or Cmd+F on a Mac) to quickly find the one you want to explore.