Driving in New Zealand

Manual gear stick
Renting a sports car provides you with a wonderful adventure, there's a surprise around every corner. Packed with a kaleidoscope of scenery and colourful history, you'll enjoy your route as much as your destination.

Some of the very best  roads in the world are to be found in the South Island of New Zealand thanks to the Southern Alps spine that runs virtually down the middle. Roads are often empty, with fantastic sweeping bends and great visibility. In contrast the North Island also offers great driving, with its volcanic plateaus, rolling hills, beach-lined peninsulas and thermal highways.

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oad Conditions

The famous New Zealand  touring roads make for terrific driving. Due to a small population, the roads are empty and the surfaces on the routes we choose are fantastic. We avoid the main truck routes and stick to the bendy inland highways, we take you to the best roads this country can offer, and some that many other companies don't know or have time for.



Driving around New Zealand is generally relaxed, so you can take in the scenery and see this wonderful country at a comfortable pace.  We offer reliable, quality vehicles to exacting standards and equip them with the best accessories. Some routes are challenging, so you will need some degree of experience with driving the vehicle chosen for your Trip.


Weather Conditions

New Zealands North Island is subtropical and the South Island temperate. Sports Car driving in New Zealand can be enjoyed the year round.  In the Spring you can smell the lush green grass and flowers that line some of the roads.  In Summer feel the sun beating down on your bare shoulders.  In the Autumn the golden colours are just astounding with a warm, settled climage, and in winter why not ride to the snowy mountains.  Wonderful New Zealand is truly that, just wonderful in all seasons.

During our summer our temperature range between 20 - 40c(68F - 104F)
During winter it can be anything between 0 - 20c (32F - 68F)

5 Tips for safe driving in New Zealand

  1. Allow time to get over jetlag, you may have just crossed 10 time zones in just over 24 hours. Not many of us get the chance to go to New Zealand more than once in our lives, so don’t rush it. 
  2. Stop over en route, how many times in your life do you get to visit Asia? Depending on who you fly with, why not use this opportunity to visit places like Singapore, Bangkok, Dubai, Hong Kong, Sydney, Los Angeles, Hawaii, or the Cook Islands. Ask your flight agent.
  3. Speed cameras, the myths are true! They are hidden in bizarre places. And they are NOT painted in bright garish colours so you can spot them a mile off. 
  4. 'Metal' roads are gravel, not tarmac. Many side roads in New Zealand will show a sign stating metal road. We do not encourage driving on metal or un-made roads. In fact, you can get up close to unsurpassed scenery of imaginable beauty without leaving the tarmac.
  5. The sun is deceptively strong, so wear plenty of sun cream to prevent yourself from getting burnt, especially your face. Wear a cap for better visibility and be prepared to wear layers of clothing for driving in both hot and cold weather.  Temperatures can change rapidly within a few hours.

Basic Road Rules

It is important to view the road rules before you ride, below are some brief tips, we’ll always give you a safety briefing before you depart, but for the official New Zealand road code visit the NZ Transport Agency website.
  • Speed Limits: 100 km/h max on the open road and 50 km/h in built up areas, all speed signs are well signposted.
  • Giving Way: In general give way to the right. When at a STOP sign you must stop completely and give way to all traffic until it is clear to proceed.
  • Traffic not turning at cross junctions (going straight) have the right of way over turning traffic.
  • Signs at single lane bridges advise of who has right of way, slow down and be prepared to stop.
  • Corner Speed: There are yellow speed recommendation signs on most bends in New Zealand and can be used as a rough guide to judge your speed into corners.
  • Driving Licence: You must hold a full driving licence or be able to legally drive the requested vehicle in your country of residence. Proof will be required in the form of your physical drivers licence. Any overseas licences that are written in a language other then english will need to be translated before arriving (check with your travel agent).
  • Alcohol: Driving in New Zealand while intoxicated is a very serious offence and random breath testing happens very often all over the country, even in rural areas. The legal limit is 80 milligrams of alcohol for every 100mls of blood, in other words you could go over the limit with two pints of normal strength beer or a large glass of wine. If you are caught drink driving you could lose your licence and your vehicle may be confiscated.and you will incur a fine. We highly recommend limiting your intake of alcohol whilst on vacation. 
  • Overtaking: You may not cross a solid yellow line to overtake, they are there to warn of hidden dangers so abide by this rigidly. Broken white lines are fine and you should stay within the speed limit. You are not allowed to cross the centre line if you are not overtaking and must keep left when driving normally.
  • Parking: Consider your parking carefully, and please note it is illegal to park on the opposite side of the road facing onto traffic.
  • Beware of Kea Parrots.  You may see and hear our beautiful mountain Parrot, the Kea, if you are driving in high mountain pass areas. They are one of our protected treasures, intelligent and inquisitive, and usually fly around in small groups. Keas have a penchant for rubber and leather and have been known to peck windscreen wipers, roof linings and other soft parts of the vehicle. Being aware of the presence of Kea in the area and their capabilities is the main key to keeping your vehicle safe. For example if you arrive at a location and intend to go for a mountain walk but you can see that Kea Parrots are hopping around, do not go for a walk! 
  • Roadworks: Slow and steady is the key, wave to our friendly Roadworks boys and girls who are often on hand instead of traffic lights to ensure your safety  If you see the sign 'New Seal' please be aware this does not mean that you are about to drive on a hard and newly tar-sealed surface.  It usually means that you are about to drive on newly laid gravel! 

Why not take the online 'Driving in new Zealand' test to see if you understand our road rules! 
Let us know how you get on - we have not had a ten out of ten yet! 

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Our unique selling features would have to be our unsurpassed quality of service, our genuine passion for sportscar driving, and sharing our local knowledge and New Zealand's hidden secrets with you.
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+64 3 312 0066
New Zealand Sports Car Tours,
43 Roscrea Place, Mandeville,
RD2 Kaiapoi 7692, Christchurch,
North Canterbury, New Zealand.

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