This page includes information about driving in New Zealand and links to real-time traffic information on state highways.
We've also included links to inter-city buses and trains, ferries and airlines, as well as information about walking and cycling routes around New Zealand.
If you're from overseas, New Zealand roads are probably different to what you're used to. Distances may seem short on paper, but our roads can be narrower than you're used to, cover hilly terrain, and vary from motorways to unsealed gravel roads.
It's very easy to underestimate travelling times (external link) in New Zealand. We want you to have a great trip and arrive to your destination safely, so make sure you allow plenty of time and take regular breaks. The trip may be slower, but the scenery is amazing so take your time and enjoy your journey.
Before you begin your journey on New Zealand roads, learn more about what's different about driving in New Zealand. For example:
If you're tired you're much more likely to have a crash. Before driving, allow plenty of time to rest when you first arrive in New Zealand and then make sure you get plenty of rest before each long drive. Ensure you allow enough time to drive safely between your destinations. If you find your attention wandering when driving, pull over to the roadside and have a rest.
Excessive speed is one of the biggest killers on our roads.
Alcohol and drugs, including some drugs given to you by a doctor, can seriously affect your driving. They can slow your reaction times and affect your senses. You risk causing death and serious injury to yourself and other people if you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The weather can vary considerably, even within a single day. During the winter months and early spring, watch out for ice and snow and other weather-related hazards.
To drive in New Zealand, you must have a current and valid overseas driver licence or international driving permit. If you're here for more than 12 months, you'll need to gain a New Zealand driver licence.
If you're travelling in New Zealand during a busy period – such as when a major event is on or over Christmas, Easter or long weekends – there are likely to be more cars on the roads. Read our tips for safe travel during these times.
See the diverse range of activities and events on offer throughout the country at www.newzealand.com (external link) .
Find out information that might affect your travel, including real-time highway conditions, and check out live traffic webcams on the busiest areas around the country on the Traffic and travel section of our website.
The Automobile Association of New Zealand (external link) also has maps of New Zealand and suggested scenic routes for tourists, plus information on car rentals, distances and travelling times, and bus stops and car parks.
Renting a vehicle? Check out the requirements you and the rental company need to meet.
Many requirements for driving a motorhome are the same as for car drivers, such as the road and licensing rules, but there are other things you need to know, such as where to dispose of your waste at dump stations. (external link) Stay in designated campsites to avoid instant fines for illegal camping.
There are quite different road and licensing rules for motorcycles. Find out more in The official New Zealand road code for motorcyclists and learn tips for keeping yourself safe while riding a motorcycle.
There's no better way to get to know a place than by experiencing it on foot. New Zealand offers lots of opportunities for walking, whether you're exploring native bush, rural or alpine environments, or getting around in our towns and cities.
Walking routes in and around New Zealand's three main cities showcase the country's scenery, culture and history. Check out what's on offer in:
Discover more walking opportunities in the resources section of the Living Streets (external link) website, a site established to get more people walking and enjoying public spaces around New Zealand.
New Zealand has many walking tracks. Learn more about walks and national parks (external link) in New Zealand on the Department of Conservation website.
You can cycle the length of New Zealand, but we recommend avoiding regional highways when you can. Instead, use quieter back roads as it's safer and there's less vehicle emissions. You'll find plenty of opportunities to get off the beaten track – there are many vehicle-free tracks and trails across New Zealand which provide a safer environment for cycling.
Many roads don't have separate cycling facilities so you need to stay alert to the risks around you. See our tips for staying safe while cycling. And remember, you must not cycle on motorways – it's illegal.
You can also cycle your way around New Zealand cities. There are many cycling routes in New Zealand cities and towns.
Discover more cycling opportunities at the Cycling Advocates Network (CAN) website (external link) , a site established to get more people walking, cycling and enjoying public spaces around New Zealand.
You don't need to drive to see New Zealand. Take the bus or train and you can enjoy the same scenery without the responsibility of driving in an unfamiliar environment. In some places you can travel by ferry. Travelling by plane is quick and convenient. Combined, these services can get you to almost everywhere.
Find out more on:
Train travel includes long-distance trips such as between Auckland and Wellington, scenic journeys such as the TranzAlpine service between Christchurch and Greymouth, and local commuter services in Auckland and Wellington.
Find out about:
The only ways to travel between New Zealand's North and South Islands are by air or sea. There is a choice of ferry services, both of which carry vehicles:
Other ferry services link smaller islands to the mainland in places such as Hokianga (external link) , the Bay of Islands and the Hauraki Gulf Islands in Auckland. There are also commuter ferry services in Auckland (external link) and Wellington. (external link)
All New Zealand cities have an airport running domestic flights across the country. Airports in key destinations also run international flights.
Find out about flights around New Zealand from these airlines:
If you are intending to arrive in New Zealand by corporate or private aircraft (non-scheduled flights) your best source of information is the New Zealand Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP). (external link) The GEN section of the AIP contains information relating to customs, immigration and quarantine requirements, and for obtaining approvals for non-scheduled flights, where this is required, as well as information relating to landings at non-customs airports.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution New Zealand Licence