Safe Driving New Zealand | Budget Car Rental


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. 

Please view the DriveSafe Driving in New Zealand document and visit the DriveSafe website for further information. If you have trouble viewing the document, please download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free.

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

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Important Road Safety Information


Seat Belts

Buckle up! Seat belts save lives.

By law, seatbelts must be worn at all times when travelling (including rear seat belts).

Child safety seats are available from Budget New Zealand locations – subject to availability.


Keep Left

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 multilane 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.


Speed Limits

Enjoy the drive but remember to adhere to all speed limits.
Below is a guide only with a conversion from kilometres to miles.
Speed limits in New Zealand vary, however they are clearly signposted and are in kilometres.
Below is a guide only with a conversion from kilometres to miles.

  Kilometres Miles
Country Roads and Highways   100 km/h    62 m/h
Cities and Towns 50 km/h    31 m/h


Speeding & Speed Cameras

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.


Drink Driving & Random Breath Testing

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.

The amount of alcohol you can consume before reaching the legal limit depends on many factors, including: whether you are male or female, your body size, and how much food you have eaten.
Even small amounts of alcohol can affect your driving, so our advice is: if you drink any alcohol, don't drive.


Mobile Phones

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.


Drive To The Conditions

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.


Safe Winter Driving

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.

Read NZTA's tips on winter driving in New Zealand


Road Signs

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.


Give Way Rules

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


No Passing Zones

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


Passing Lanes

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.


Driving On Country Roads

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.


Prohibited Driving Areas - Off Road Driving

The following areas are classified as prohibited when driving a 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.


Accident Procedures

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.


At The Airport Or Budget Rental Counter

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.


Your Rental Vehicle

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.


Current Road Conditions

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