Before you start to learn to drive on the road, you’ll need to get a learner licence. Once you receive your learner licence you can start learning to drive in a car or other light vehicle.

Who can apply for a learner licence?

To apply for a learner licence you have to be at least 16 years old.

How do I apply for a learner licence?

You’ll need to go to a driver licensing agent to:

  • pay the application fee of $96.10
  • complete the application requirements
  • sit and pass the theory test.

Application requirements

Driver licensing agents 

Test fees for car driver licences are changing from 8 July 2024

Getting a learner, restricted or full licence from 8 July 2024

Learner licence theory test

This is a computer-based multi-choice test of 35 questions you can take at a driver licensing agent. It covers road rules, hazards and safe driving practices to make sure you have the knowledge to begin driving on the road safely.

The questions appear in a random order and you select the answer you think is correct. You can change your mind after selecting an answer, but it’ll be locked in when you move on to the next question.

You need to get at least 32 questions right to pass the test. If you get more than 3 questions wrong, you’ll need to book another test. 

If you fail the test twice on the same day, you’ll need to wait 10 working days before you can sit the test again. This is to give you more time to learn the road rules, and to make sure other people also have a change to take their test. 

When you pass the test, you’ll be given a temporary learner licence, valid for 21 days, to use until your photo driver licence arrives.

Note: please don’t bring children to your test. Having children with you may be a distraction and cause you to fail the test.

Preparing for the theory test

You need to be thoroughly familiar with the road rules to pass the test. You’ll find everything you need to know in the road code.

To help you learn the road rules, you can practice with questions from the theory test. You can also use our free website Drive to work through the road code with real theory test questions, games and quizzes.

Theory test questions

drive.govt.nz(external link)

Speech or language needs

If you're having trouble getting ready for your theory test because of a reading or language issue, there are several organisations that may be able to help:

People with reading issues can also apply for:

  • extra time to complete the theory test
  • the theory test to be given orally.

Besides English, the test is available in the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese (simplified and traditional)
  • Filipino
  • Gujarati
  • Hindi
  • Korean
  • Māori
  • Punjabi
  • Samoan
  • Thai
  • Tongan.

Talk to your driver licensing agent for more information about these options.

Driver licensing agents

Learner licence conditions

  • You must not drive on your own. You must always have a supervisor sitting in the front passenger seat beside you. 
    What is a supervisor?
  • If you're learning to ride a moped, you must not ride it between 10pm and 5am and you must not carry passengers.
  • You must always display L (learner) plates on the vehicle when you drive. 
  • You may carry passengers in your car, but your supervisor must agree. Your supervisor is responsible for everyone in the car and for what happens while you’re driving.

There are also conditions around alcohol and driving. 

Alcohol and drug limits

If you break the learner conditions of your driver licence, you could get 25 to 35 demerit points and a $100 fine.

Demerit points 

Important!

If you don't follow your licence conditions, the police can stop you from driving. They may tell you to drive straight home, take your keys, clamp your vehicle, or have it moved to where it's not a traffic hazard.

L plates

If you’re driving with a class 1 or class 6 learner licence, you must display L plates on your vehicle.

L plates show other road users that you're a learner driver and help police officers make sure learner drivers are following their learner licence conditions.

The L plate must have a black L on a yellow background and must be no smaller than the measurements shown on the diagram.

If you’re driving a car, van or ute, your L plates:

  • must be displayed on both the front and rear of the vehicle
  • must be clearly visible to other road users
  • must not restrict your front or rear vision.

If you’re riding a moped, you must display an L plate on the back of your moped.

You can buy L plates from driver licensing agents, or you can make your own.

Driver licensing agents

Learning to drive

Learning to drive is a big responsibility. It’s important that you develop good driving skills so you’ll be a safe driver on our roads.

Professional or private instruction?

You can get training from a qualified professional driving instructor or get a friend or family member to be your driving coach.

Many people do a mixture of both, getting lots of practice with a driving coach but also having some lessons with a driving instructor to improve their skills.

Learning to drive with an instructor

Driving instructors charge a fee for training and must:

  • hold a driving instructor (I) endorsement for each class of licence they want to teach
  • sit in the front passenger seat while instructing you.

Before your first lesson, ask the instructor to show you proof that they hold a current driving instructor endorsement.

Learning to drive with a driving coach

A driving coach is someone you know who's willing to teach you how to drive. They must hold a current and valid full New Zealand car licence without a supervisor condition and have held it, or an equivalent overseas licence, for at least 2 years.

Your coach should:

  • always carry their driver licence while supervising your driving
  • be prepared to commit to the time needed for you to practise
  • be a responsible, skilled and confident driver
  • be an effective communicator, able to get information and ideas across clearly
  • have the patience to instruct you effectively
  • be able to teach and build on previous lessons
  • review, evaluate and assess your progress.