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Driving in NZ (Including Fuel prices)

New Zealander's drive on the correct side of the road UK driving license is OK for a year, but you will require a theory test to get a NZ one. ( Update Brits no linger need to take the theory ). You will get fined $50 for driving without your licence Breath tests are random, I was tested Good Friday at 7:00 a.m. Beware of the turning left rule, I won't try to explain it, but this rule has caused the only near misses whilst I have been driving. Max Speed limit is 100 Km/hour (62 mph) and a lot roads it is 80, built up areas are 50. There are only motorways around Auckland and these are usually busy, out of town roads are single carrageway, generally, with loads of bends and steep climbs and fantastic scenery All personal injuries are covered by ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation New Zealand’s accident compensation scheme provides 24-hour no-fault personal injury insurance cover), so road insurance is not compulsory. The ACC is paid for by NZ's equivalent to road tax. This is great in that is there are no ambulance chasing lawyers, but terrible from the fact teenagers can drive powerful cars. 16 year olds can learn to drive, a very very bad idea!!

Buying a car

NZ cars were much cheaper then the UK when we moved here in 2006, but the dollar has risen dramatically in value and importers have not passed all the savings on. European which are expensive, but seem to be getting better. The new VW Golf seems around the same price as the UK.

European and Subaru are classed as exotics by the insurance companies and cost more to insure, but still quite reasonable. No road salt is used in NZ, therefore bodies retain their finish and last much longer than their UK equivalents, also mileage is much less per annum generally. This equates to cars lasting longer, making an eight year old vehicle quite young.

Places to buy cars in Auckland:

  • Sunday Morning at Ellerslie Racecourse, private sales and AA checkups if required
  • Main Dealers are from Newmarket down Great South Road, also many on North Shore
  • Loads of second hand dealers in Panmure
  • Bought our Pajero from Buyright Cars Botany from Dave and Steven Orlandini. Very fair company. Recommend! See:Tonka Toy Trips


Insurance is not compulsory in New Zealand. Personal accident insurance is covered by ACC, so no ambulance chasers. For insurance see:

Engine insurance

is available to anybody who buys a car under 12 years old for about $450 for 2 years so long as it gets serviced regularly, well worth the money.


Drink driving

is a real problem here, drunks are regularly killing themselves so are in line for the “Darwin Awards”, but often kill or injure innocent people. The main problem seems to be that the drinkers do not believe they are doing anything wrong. In a recent case a male driver pulled into a garage and whilst filling up lay down on the forecourt and fell asleep; he had a toddler in the SUV. And the latest, a woman was stopped in Auckland, she was 5 times over the limit, on her way to a A.A. meeting!!


Basically if you speed you will get caught, there are few cameras and these are painted grey and there are no lines on the road, but there are lots of traffic police with their speed guns, unmarked cars with their speed guns and ordinary empty vehicles parked at the roadside with speed cameras. In the last six months the tally is Terri 2 Art 1.

Road deaths

Latest annual road deaths for every 100,000 of population show that New Zealand's roads are getting safer.

Road Deaths Per Year:

UK: 5 per 100,000 people
Australia: 8
NZ: 9
Canada: 9
United States: 14
Spain: 15

Not so many years ago, New Zealand had 13. The major reason for more deaths in NZ compared to the UK is fewer multi-lane highways in NZ.

Getting a NZ License

If you have held a UK license for more than two years, you just need to pass the theory test. The theory test costs $84 or $134 for car and bike. Most questions are common sense, but a knowledge of Road Code is required for some of the specialist questions. 35 questions for car and 35 for bike, with no more than 3 wrong. Update ex UK residents are no longer required to do the theory test just go to the AA and apply I still recommend reading Roadcode


  • The equivalent of the MOT is the Warrant of Fitness (WOF) required each year from 1 year 'til year 6, then every six months(Changing in July 2013). The standard is lower than the UK, with no emmision tests .
  • Parking is free apart from central Auckland, although there are often time limits
  • Parking places are much larger than the UK
  • Road Tax (Rego) and driving licenses are obtained from the AA, online or VTNZ.
  • Trailers are registered with their own number plate, requiring tax and a W.O.F.
  • Bike road tax is more expensive currently $400+? (the ACC content is higher)
  • Traffic lights do not flow!

Beware Friday Evenings, it seems most companies have an in house drink on Friday afternoon especially at months end.

Fuel Costs

Owners of diesel-powered vehicles (and other fuels that aren't taxed at the pump) contribute differently through Road User Charges. The main way these vehicle users are charged for road use is according to how many kilometres they travel, and the type and weight of the vehicle. They pay a set amount for every 1,000 kilometres travelled.

AA Website

Personal Plates

Personal number plates cost about $799 or $899 with a message added

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living_in_new_zealand/driving_in_new_zealand.txt · Last modified: 2013/05/07 09:33 by art
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