Safe Driving in New Zealand

A driving holiday in New Zealand is the best way to see the country and take in the wonderful scenery. And at Budget we want to make sure you do that safely.

We want to make sure every driver is adequately prepared and understands 'what's different’ about driving in New Zealand. We recommend that you visit the AA's visiting Driver training programme and complete the training programme before you leave home. It will help you understand New Zealand's road rules and the typical road conditions you will experience while driving here. You can print a 'certificate of completion' and then present it to our rental desk to show you have taken steps to prepare yourself for driving in New Zealand. We will give you a $15 discount on time and kilometre charges of rental.  

Take the Driver Safety test and receive a discount on your next rental (international visitors only).


Note: if arriving from a long-haul flight we encourage you to rest well and stay overnight before driving too far.

Please take the time to read our summary of the key road rules for New Zealand and to view the safe driving videos below.

DriveSafePlease view the DriveSafe Driving in New Zealand document, available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Arabic.

The Safe Driving Information document is available as a Portable Document File (PDF), for which you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not already have the free software you will need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader before you can view and print the PDF file.

For more information, please visit the DriveSafe website.

Important Road Safety Information


Buckle up! Seat belts save lives.

By law, everyone travelling in the vehicle (front and back seats) must use a seatbelt or approved child restraint. Child restraints are available from all Budget car rental locations.


In New Zealand we drive on the left. That means the centre line is always on the right or drivers side of the car. On multi-lane motorways and open road passing lanes, slower traffic should always use the far left lane.

Most roads in New Zealand are two-lane roads on a single carriageway, which means there is no barrier between you and oncoming traffic. Always stay left and do not cross the centre line.


On the open road, the maximum speed limit is 100 kilometres per hour. In cities and towns, the maximum is 50 kilometres per hour.

Exceptions occur, for example around road works, so be alert for signs (on the left of the road) that tell you the maximum allowable speed.


Our advice is to keep within the speed limit at all times. Mobile speed cameras can be found throughout the country and are normally placed in unmarked vehicles.

New Zealand Police enforce a low tolerance approach to speeding drivers and if you are caught speeding in a rental car you are responsibile for any fines incurred and any administration charges related to the fine.


Do not drive a motor vehicle if you have been drinking alcohol. Random breath testing is carried out in New Zealand and heavy penalties and fines apply if convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol.

For drivers over 20 years of age, you must not drive if you have consumed more than the legal alcohol limit, which is 250 micrograms per litre of breath or 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.

Even small amounts of alcohol can affect your driving, so our advice is: if you drink any alcohol, don't drive.


A driver must not, while driving a vehicle:

  • use a mobile phone to make, receive, or terminate a telephone call.
  • use a mobile phone to create, send, or read a text message.
  • use a mobile phone to create, send, or read an email.
  • use a mobile phone to create, send, or view a video message.

A driver may, while driving a vehicle:

  • use a mobile phone to make, receive, or terminate a telephone call if the phone does not require the driver to hold or manipulate it to make, receive, or terminate the call (i.e. if you have a hands-free kit).

The only other exception is if the driver is using the phone to make an emergency 111 or *555 call.


New Zealand roads cover some impressive terrain and can pass through amazing scenery, but they can also be treacherous in certain weather conditions.

Always drive to the conditions and reduce speed when necessary.


Winter driving conditions in New Zealand can be very tricky, especially through mountainous regions. The following are a few tips for safe winter driving:

  • Drive with the headlights on whenever visibility is poor.
  • Take special care with following distances and speed.
  • Fit snow chains when driving in snow (but do not exceed 25kph when snow chains are fitted)
  • Beware of Black Ice on the roads; look for road signs warning of ice and be cautious in areas of permanent shadow.
  • Winter sun is low in the sky and can cause prolonged glare. Use sunglasses when driving and keep your windscreen clean and check the washer reservoir has been refilled.
  • Reduce speed when driving in rain and increase braking distance.
  • Use low gear when driving through light surface flooding.


STOP - You must stop. Check for vehicles and give way to traffic approaching from the right or left.

GIVEWAY - Slow down and stop if traffic is approaching from the right or left, and follow the Give Way Rules.

Learn more about New Zealand Road Signs at the New Zealand Transport Agency website.


All traffic turning right must give way to vehicles coming from the opposite direction and turning left. At an uncontrolled intersection, all traffic from the terminating road (bottom of the ‘T’) will have to give way to all traffic on a continuing road (top of the ‘T’).

Basically, left turning vehicles have right-of-way unless a road sign is present to indicate otherwise.

Learn more about the Give Way rules in New Zealand by visiting the New Zealand Transport Agency website. The following pages contain very important information:

The Give Way Rules

Giving Way at Intersections

Giving Way at Roundabouts

Giving Way at Railway Level Crossings

Giving Way on One-Lane Bridges


You must not pass another moving vehicle where a solid yellow line appears on your side of the centre line.


On the open road, be patient and wait for passing lanes, which make it easy and safe to pass slow vehicles.


On a motorway you must not:

  • walk or cycle.
  • stop your vehicle (unless in an emergency).
  • make a U Turn.

When changing lanes on a motorway, always indicate for at least 3 seconds and check the road is clear before changing lanes.

If you need to make an emergency stop:

  • signal your intention to stop using indicators or hazard warning lights.
  • stop your vehicle as far as possible to the left side of the road.
  • turn on your hazard warning lights until help arrives.


Country roads may have hidden dangers. Be on the look out for loose stones, ice and single-lane bridges.

When you reach a scenic attraction, don't drive and look at the same time. Never stop on a corner, no matter how tempting the view.

And in a country with 40 million sheep, keep a look out for livestock being herded along the roads. If you find yourself sharing the road with sheep or cows, proceed very slowly and if required stop until the farmer has cleared the road.


The following areas are classified as prohibited when driving an Budget rental vehicle:

  • Skipper’s Canyon (Queenstown)
  • Ninety Mile Beach (Northland)
  • any unformed roads and/or roads other than tarseal or metal; including but not limited to beaches, driveways, or any surface likely to damage the vehicle.

Refer to the Budget New Zealand Rental Terms & Conditions for further details.


If you're involved in an accident, please do the following:

  • Stop and check if anyone has been injured.
  • Give all the practical help you can and call an ambulance (dial 111).
  • Immediately notify the nearest Budget rental location (refer to the Rental Agreement for contact information).
  • If Police Officers have not attended the accident, and injury is involved, you must contact the Police within 24 hours and notify them of the accident.
  • If the accident involves damage to property (e.g. a farmer's fence) and the owners cannot be located, contact the Police within 48 hours.
  • Fill in the Budget Accident Report Form, located in the vehicle's glove box. Include the name, address, vehicle registration number, and the insurance company of any other person involved.

For your protection, you should not admit liability under any circumstances.


Before you leave the Budget rental location and start your journey:

  • Review maps and other visitor information. Reading a map while driving is dangerous.
  • Ask our Budget counter staff for directions.
  • If you are unfamiliar with the area you are visiting we recommend the use of GPS Navigation.
  • Do not leave luggage unattended at airports, rental car locations or other transportation terminals. If there is more than one person in your party, assign someone to stay with the bags.
  • When collecting your rental vehicle, only the renter and any additional drivers are required at the rental counter.


Always familiarise yourself with the vehicle's safety equipment, including hazard lights, windshield wipers, the spare tire, seat belts and door locks. Make sure the vehicle always has plenty of petrol.


Refer to the NZ Transport Agency's Current New Zealand Highway Conditions for the most up to date information regarding road conditions.

These safety tips are common sense suggestions from Budget. The safety of you and your passengers is most important and this is the responsibility of the driver. Follow the road rules and stick to the speed limits. And above all, stay alert and take care at all times.

If you have a Budget Fastbreak or Rapidrez account, please enter your six-character number and surname in this field. Corporate Fastbreak members should also enter there six-character number and surname in this field.

If you're a member of an organisation or company that partners with Budget you may have a one of the following:

  • Direct PIN Number
  • OTTO Number
  • ACTO Number
  • BCN Number
  • BCD Number

Add this number into the field shown to receive your discount.

If you're a member of Air New Zealand Airpoints™, Qantas Frequent Flyer, or FlyBuys New Zealand you may earn points on your rental charges. Select the program you are a member of and enter your membership number and we will automatically credit membership account with the applicable points after your rental has been completed.

If you have a Coupon or Discount Number it can be entered here. The value of the coupon, where applicable, will be reflected in Estimated Total.

Enter your travel agency IATA number or Budget Assigned Number (BAN) in this field.

The minimum age for drivers is 21 years old for all car groups. A Young Driver Surcharge of NZ$25.00 (plus GST) per day per driver will apply to drivers under 25 years of age.

The 'Estimated Total' displayed on your reservation includes; base daily rate, taxes, coupon discounts, and surcharges. Items such as credit/debit card transaction fees and petrol are NOT included in the Estimated Total.

Please Note: The Estimated Total is subject to change based upon exchange rates at the time of rental.

Payment of the rental must be made by credit card and the credit card holder must be present when the vehicle is collected. When you collect your vehicle a pre-authorisation will be made on your credit card for the estimated value of the rental and any applicable security bond. Provided the vehicle is returned undamaged and no additional charges apply (e.g. fuel), the pre-authorisation is cancelled.

Budget accepts American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa.

Debit Cards are accepted provided that the card displays the Visa or Mastercard logo, has been issued by a bank, has the customer's name and card number on the card, and the funds are being debited from a cheque/current account. Prepaid and Reloadable debit cards and gift cards, as well as Travel Cards and EFTPOS cards are not accepted.

Standard Motor Vehicle Insurance (MVI) is mandatory and included in the rate.

Optional Budget Driver & Passenger Protection can be purchased for NZ$28* (plus GST) per day. The purchase of this optional insurance package reduces the renter's liability to NZ$300.00* (plus GST) for all car groups. In addition, Budget Driver & Passenger Protection provides cover for personal injury.

If Budget Driver & Passenger Protection is not purchased, the Renter will be liable for an amount ranging from NZ$3000.00* (plus GST) to NZ$3750.00* (plus GST), depending on the car group rented.

*Applicable to standard leisure rentals; subject to change.

If you are making a corporate reservation using a BCD or Fastbreak number, please check your company's rates and insurance coverage before booking. Standard Motor Vehicle Insurance is mandatory on all Budget leisure rentals, but corporate rates and insurance coverages may differ.

All additional drivers must meet the same minimum age & drivers license requirements as the renter. All additional drivers must be present at the start of the rental. If the additional drivers are not present at time of rental pick-up, they must present themselves to a Budget rental location at their earliest convenience to complete the Additional Driver Form.

Vehicles displayed on the website are for demonstration purposes only. Brands and models may vary by location and all vehicles are subject to availability at the time of rental.

You must present a full and valid, unrestricted, Driver's Licence at the time of rental. Licences issued in a language other than English must be accompanied by an International Driver's Licence.

Budget holds your GPS request with your reservation, however we cannot guarantee availability.

Please Note: If the drop off / return location is not within the same city as the pick-up / renting location, a one-way GPS drop off charge of NZ$50.00 (plus GST) may apply to the rental. This is in addition to any one way charges that may apply for the rental of the vehicle.

One way rentals to non participating locations are subject to availability.

The minimum age is 21 for all car groups. A Young Driver Surcharge of NZ$25.00 (plus GST) per day per driver will apply to drivers under 25 years of age.

Customers wishing to travel between the North and South Islands are not permitted to take Budget rental vehicles on the Inter-island Ferry across Cook Strait.

To allow for this type of inter-island travel Budget has introduced a special rental system called a Multi-Island Hire which creates one continuous rental. If you require a Multi-Island Hire, the following rental conditions apply:

  • For cars there is a minimum of 3 days consecutive rental required in each island (a minimum total rental of 6 days across both islands).
  • If you are traveling more than once between the two islands, the third (and subsequent) rental period has no minimum length of rental requirement.
  • The rental can start and finish at any Budget location in New Zealand (subject to vehicle availability).
  • You can cross between the two islands using the Picton Ferry Terminal and the Wellington Ferry Terminal, or you can fly into cities where Budget is located. Note: this policy only applies if you are traveling to the other island, not to a location within the same island.
  • A maximum of 5 hours is allowed between the drop off of the vehicle in one island and the pick up of the next vehicle.
  • A minimum of 72 hours notice is required of the renter's intention to cross between the North & South islands, if a crossover booking has not been previously made. If not enough notice is given, we cannot guarantee a vehicle will be available on the other side.

Please Note: No Budget vehicle is allowed to cross Cook Strait between the North and South Islands. If you take a vehicle across Cook Strait on an Inter-island ferry (i.e. if you pick-up a rental vehicle on one island and leave the vehicle on the other island) without Budget authorisation, you will be charged an automatic relocation fee of NZ$450.00 (incl. GST).

Full Budget Rental Terms & Conditions apply.