Driving in New ZealandNew Zealand Transport Association Official Visitor Site
If you have flown into New Zealand on a long haul flight, we recommend that before you set off on your motorhome holiday you relax overnight in a hotel or with local friends, so that you are fresh and alert at the beginning of your New Zealand adventure.
The scenic attractions of New Zealand are legendary: spectacular, varied and perhaps best of all, confined to an area that’s just 1,600km long and 450km at its widest point.
However, it is easy to under-estimate travelling times in New Zealand. Distances may seem short on paper but New Zealand roads are probably narrower than you are used to, with twists, turns and scenery that can be demanding and distracting.
Most roads are well maintained but often change quickly from motorway to country road, so it is important to be attentive, and take regular breaks from driving - our recommendation is a break every two hours or when you get sleepy. To really get the most out of your motorhome experience, try to cover no more than 50kms over any given hour. After all, this is your vacation and in a country as compact as New Zealand, you can afford to take your time and enjoy every single moment of it.
There are two main islands in New Zealand, each with its own unique landscape and attractions. The North Island has a more gentle terrain with lush green pastures, wonderful beaches and regional highlights such as the famous thermal activity of Rotorua. The South Island with its mountains, lakes and dramatic coastlines is, in a word, breathtaking. You need to allow a day to cross Cook Strait, the picturesque stretch of water that links the two islands, aboard the Interislander vehicular ferry.
Unless a sign says otherwise, the speed limit on motorways and open roads is 100km/hr and in urban areas 50km/hr. Seatbelts are mandatory and, remember, in New Zealand we drive on the left hand side of the road so if you drive on the right hand side in your own country, please remind yourself of the difference every time you pull out onto the road after a break.
New Zealand is often described as a world in miniature, and in a United motorhome or campervan you have the perfect vehicle to see as much of it as possible. Enjoy the journey and drive safely.
We suggest that you familiarise yourself with the New Zealand Road Code before your departure for New Zealand.
View the Official New Zealand Road Code online
Tips from campervan travellers