If you're planning a winter road trip or driving up to the ski slopes, here are some important points to remember.

Test your driving skills in New Zealand

Put yourself in the driver’s seat using the AA’s new Visiting Drivers Training Programme(opens in new window) and experience what it is like to drive on New Zealand roads. Complete a series of driving tasks and test yourself on New Zealand’s road rules. If you pass the tests, get a certificate to prove your skill.

Take the tests(opens in new window)

Weather and road conditions

Before setting out on a winter road trip, it’s important you are clued up on weather activity and road conditions in your region. Monitor the weather before you leave and note down any areas expecting heavy snow, rainfall or hail. You can check the weather and road conditions in these New Zealand websites:


When you’re renting a car it’s important to have chains available when travelling along snow and ice. Most rental companies will provide you with chains, as well as demonstrate how to fit them.

  • When using chains, make sure they are fitted to the driving wheels (eg for a front wheel car, chains go at the front)
  • Fitted chains should be firm but not tight
  • After fitting chains, drive a short distance then check them again to make sure they are secure
  • Carry warm gloves and make sure you have a torch
  • Drive slowly when using chains

Black Ice

Black Ice is a thin sheet of ice on the road that is dark in appearance, making it extremely hard for drivers to see. It is commonly found around waterways and lakes, more often in shady or cooler areas. Black ice can cause drivers to lose control, so it’s important to drive carefully.

  • Avoid sudden braking
  • Drive slowly
  • Avoid sudden direction changes
  • Leave large following distances
  • Look for shiny, wet patches on the road
  • Winter driving checklist

Key things to remember when driving in winter:

  • Snow chains
  • A working torch (and spare batteries)
  • A radio and mobile phone
  • Drive with your headlights on, day or night
  • Update yourself on weather and road conditions regularly

There are plenty of options for transport if you would prefer not to drive. Choose from shuttles, buses and trains; many have flexible itineraries and take in some great winter sights and activities.

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