Safe driving in New Zealand

New Zealand has one of the most unique road networks in the world. Rather than four lane super-highways, New Zealand has lush green countryside on each side of the highway, sealed roads nested in the side of steep mountains and clear views of a pea-green ocean as you meander along the coast. Remember, you are on holiday so relax, enjoy the slower pace.

Here's a few tips for driving safely in New Zealand.

  1. Take a break. If you've just gotten off a long-haul flight, picking up your camper that day is probably not the best idea. Spend the first night in a hotel, recover from your jet lag and then pick up the keys to your vehicle.   

  2. There's no need to go rushing off, spend the first night in your camper somewhere close to where you picked it up, so you can adjust to driving a different vehicle and get a good night's rest before embarking on a bigger trip!   

  3. Keep left! This is probably the most important thing you need to remember when travelling around New Zealand. Yes - we know, we drive on the wrong side of the road - but it's really important you also remember to drive on this side while you are here. 

  4. Buckle up and enjoy the ride. It is law in New Zealand for every person in a vehicle to wear a seat belt. This means you, the person next to you and the kids in the back. Before driving off - make sure everyone has clicked in! 

  5. New Zealand roads are best seen at a slower pace, which is why highways are speed limited to 100km/hr on highways for cars and 90km/hr for campervans, trailers and trucks. For those of you who operate in miles - this means in a campervan you are limited to 55MPH, or in a car 62MPH.   

  6. Always stick to the speed limit. Keep your eyes out for signs indicating where the speed changes. New Zealand roads can be quite bendy, so it's important for you, your passengers and others on the road to observe the speed limit.   

  7. Etiquette: Pullover and let other traffic go. If you're driving a campervan or motorhome during your New Zealand driving holiday and you have traffic backed up behind you, pull over as soon as you can safely do so to let other vehicles pass. New Zealanders are a friendly bunch, they'll give you a smile and a wave as they go around you - if they can see you are doing the right thing.

  8. You're on vacation, so don't stick to a strict schedule of driving. Take your time, take lots of breaks to stretch your legs and don't drive tired. Ensure you are getting a good night's sleep each night and if you can share the driving with others in the camper. Always allow enough time each day to get to your destination. We recommend 2-3hrs of driving time maximum each day, to give yourself lots of time to explore along the way! 

  9. New Zealand road rules clearly state "Don't drink and drive" and "Don't drive and use your mobile phone". Do a quick brush up on New Zealand road rules before you arrive 

  10. Don't be surprised if you are the only vehicle on the road. The South Island particularly isn't as busy as many countries around the world, so you often get to enjoy the roads on your own, even better - it means when you pull over to check out the view - you aren't contending with hundreds of others!  

  11. New Zealand is a country filled with diversity. Our weather is no different. In winter it is often rainy or snowing, so always drive to the conditions and be careful of black ice. In summer we have long sunny days, so make sure you pack your sun-glasses to balance out the glare from the road.  


New Zealand roads are perfect for you to enjoy your self-drive holiday, so by following these few tips you're bound to have an amazing campervan holiday. To further enhance your driving holiday check out these handy pages:

  • NZTA: The New Zealand Transport Agency website is a great place to start when researching New Zealand roads. It outlines road closures, delays, and other important information for travelling around New Zealand 

  • DriveSafe: Road rule refresher and itinerary suggestions translated in four languages (English, French, German and Mandarin) 

  • Driving tests: Test your driving knowledge on this tourist driving test 

  • thl Roadtrip App: Take the stress out of travelling by using Campermate, the free New Zealand Travel app that shows you nearby locations of everything you'll need when travelling in a campervan from petrol stations to dump stations.