Car hire in New Zealand

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Car hire in New Zealand

The absolute best way to experience New Zealand’s spectacular scenery is by rental car. With a hired car, the journey becomes an exciting experience, and you are able to get to many destinations that you otherwise would have missed.


Certain rules and requirements apply for car hire in New Zealand. These will vary somewhat depending on your chosen car rental firm, but there are a few general rules to keep in mind and consider before hiring a car in New Zealand.

  • You need to be at least 18 years old, but also have held a driving licence for at least a year to be able to rent a car in New Zealand. The age limit might be different depending on the type of car you’d like to hire.
  • If you are under 25 years old, there will usually be an extra charge, but this will depend on the car rental company you choose.
  • Some sites give you the information that an International Driving Permit (IDP) is required to be able to rent a car in New Zealand. An IDP has, however, never been required or asked of us when we have rented cars in the country previously.
  • If you will be travelling between the various islands, remember to check if you are allowed to bring the rental car on board the ferry. Many car rental firms don’t allow travel between islands. It may actually be easier to rent another car on the other island.

Please note that these rules and conditions may vary between different car hire firms. It is therefore important that you carefully read the terms and conditions before booking the rental car.

Add-ons at booking

Should you want extra equipment in the car, e.g. a GPS or a child car seat, it is easiest to add this already when booking the car. This will facilitate the pick-up of your car, and ensure that the equipment is available on site.

Having a GPS in the car is a very good idea when driving in New Zealand. There are many small roads in the countryside, and the distances between cities and other stops are usually long. Because of this, we recommend that you use a GPS to avoid getting lost and driving far in the wrong direction.

Children under 5 years are required by law to use a child car seat. It is therefore important that you remember to add this to your booking if you need it.

Driving in New Zealand

Driving in New Zealand is a fantastic experience, and there is always something to see. Since the country has left-hand traffic, it is an especially comfortable holiday destination for British people.

Below is a list of a few general traffic rules in New Zealand:
  • Both driver and passengers must always wear a seat belt when the car is moving.
  • New Zealand has a few toll roads. You can pay the toll fee either online or when you drive through the toll station. It’s a good idea to plan and check your route in advance. That way, you’ll know if you’ll be driving on any toll roads.
  • Keep in mind that although New Zealand has left-hand traffic, the “Priority to the right-rule” applies in maneuvring. This means that the driver coming from the right has priority at uncontrolled intersections. In other words, drivers coming from the left must yield to drivers approaching from the right in the absence of traffic lights or sign posts.
  • The speed limits are generally as follows: 50 km/h (about 30 mph) in urban areas and 100 km/h (about 60 mph) on main roads, unless the speed signs tell you differently. Many roads are both narrow and winding, so pay attention to the speed limit. Police checks are quite common, and if you are caught you get the fine directly. Drive safe and don’t go above the speed limit!
  • Talking on the phone wile driving without using a handsfree is illegal.
  • Parking on yellow markings is not allowed.