About the practical driving tests

The full licence practical driving test

What is the full licence practical driving test?

The full licence practical driving test is the test that restricted licence holders must pass to graduate to a full driver licence. It is designed to test whether the skills of the driver are at a level where they can safely drive without the conditions of the restricted licence.

The test is conducted in a vehicle provided by you.

The full licence practical test will take about 30 minutes. This time allows for vehicle checks before the test, the driving test itself and time for the testing officer to give you feedback on your performance after the test.

During the test you will be expected to demonstrate safe driving practices in a wide range of driving situations.

When can I apply to sit the full licence practical driving test?

You can apply for a full driver licence after you've had your restricted driver licence for at least:

  • 18 months if you're under 25 years old
  • 12 months if you're under 25 years old and have successfully completed an approved advanced driving skills course
  • six months if you're 25 or older
  • three months if you're 25 or older and have successfully completed an approved advanced driving skills course.

How should I prepare for the full licence practical driving test?

Test applicants will be expected to be able to apply appropriate hazard and detection responses to all assessable tasks without explanation of what is required by the testing officer.

You should practise describing hazards aloud until you can confidently and clearly describe the hazards you are looking at and what you are doing in response to them. It is a good idea to ask a friend or relative who is an experienced driver to help you practise.  That person should sit in the front passenger seat and play the role of the testing officer while you drive.

You will be asked to perform a number of tasks and to observe and remember the hazards you see as you perform each task. 

Some examples of hazards are:

  • other vehicles (including vehicles approaching from behind)
  • children playing on the footpath
  • pedestrians
  • animals not on a leash
  • cyclists.

You will be marked on how well you performed the task, plus how well your descriptions of the hazards match those noted by the testing officer.

All of the tasks will take place in busy, built-up areas.  This means you will be driving in and around towns or suburban areas.

What does the full licence practical test involve?

You can find out more about the practical driver test by visiting our website.

You will be asked to perform a number of assessable tasks including:

  • right and left turns at intersections
  • right and left lane changes
  • entering and exiting roundabouts

Observation – When completing each task you will also be assessed on the following:

  • signalling
  • gap selection
  • following distance
  • hazard detection
  • hazard response.

During the test you could incur a critical error for the following:

  • driving too slow or too fast
  • failing to look before performing a manoeuvre
  • failing to signal
  • mounting the kerb
  • stalling the vehicle
  • blocking a pedestrian crossing
  • any other illegal action, eg
    • following too close
    • failing to give way to pedestrians at a pedestrian crossing
    • driving over part of a roundabout

What could cause me to fail the test?

You will fail the test, with the test being terminated, if you:

  • drive recklessly, dangerously or inconsiderately
  • are involved in a crash for which you are wholly or partly responsible
  • are unable to carry out the instructions given by the testing officer because of lack of driving ability
  • exceed the speed limit
  • fail to comply with give way rules or Give Way signs
  • fail to comply with traffic signals or Stop signs.

What happens at the end of the test?

At the end, the testing officer will tell you whether or not you have passed the test. They will also go over any errors you made so you can correct them. If you pass the test, you will have earned your full licence. The testing officer will keep your restricted licence and you will be given an interim full licence. This temporary licence is valid for 21 days and must be carried with you when you drive. Your full photo driver licence will be mailed to you. If you don’t receive your new photo driver licence within that 21-day period, you should call the NZ Transport Agency’s driver licensing contact centre on 0800 822 422. If you fail the test, the testing officer will return your restricted licence to you.

How do I dispute the result of my test?

You should lodge a complaint if you believe a testing officer has acted inappropriately or incorrectly failed or terminated your practical test. You can obtain a complaint form by:

Complete the form and post, fax or email it to the details provided on the form.

Your complaint will be investigated and you will receive a response in writing. If you’re not satisfied with the results of the investigation, you can ask the NZ Transport Agency to review that investigation.

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Last updated: 6 March 2015