New Zealand: An Intro to Driving on the Left

The best way to experience New Zealand is behind the wheel! Driving in New Zealand opens up adventures and surrounds you with natural beauty.

Headed to New Zealand and worried about driving on the left hand side of the road?  Think of it as part of the adventure! 

Driving in New Zealand is the best way to travel.  The scenery bumps right up against the side of the road, unlike the superhighways lined with sound barriers in the US.  Even major highways have nothing more than one lane in each direction, so you experience the best of New Zealand.

While it is the best way, and most fun, to see New Zealand, there will be challenges. If you’ve never driven on the left, it can take a day or two to adjust.  We’ve put together some helpful tips for your driving trip. 

The steering wheel is on the right side of the car, and everything else is opposite to what we’re used to in the States (except the brake and accelerator pedals).  You will have a few funny moments, such as when you go to use your turn signal and the windshield wipers turn on instead or when you walk up to your parked car and unlock the door, only to realise you’re sitting on the passenger side.

The best piece of advice is to think about hugging the centre lane with your right hip.  You will instinctually want to drive with the centre lane as far from your right hip as possible, but naturally that would run the left tyres off the side of the road.  So think to yourself, “centre lane, right hip, centre lane, right hip.”

When turning onto another street, look at the correct lane for oncoming traffic. When in doubt, look in every direction before you turn.  When you turn, remember that left turns hug the corner, whereas right turns require crossing over a lane - just the opposite in the US.  A good mantra for turning could be “think left lane, think left lane, think left lane.”  

Consider booking an automatic rather than a manual shift car.  Sometimes it’s easier to have one less thing to do that's the opposite of all you're used to, and can help you concentrate on staying on the correct side of the road.

Don’t worry.  Your natural instincts will not let you drive towards oncoming traffic.

Are you ready to take the road trip of a lifetime?  Check out some of our unique sample itineraries here and start an unforgettable journey!


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