Travelling in a van in New Zealand is one of the best ways to see the country; plenty of well-maintained roads to travel on to the breathtaking scenery, with a campervan and a sense of adventure you are set for an experience of life. However, it is also important to consider the rules of the road in New Zealand, especially if you come from a country with drastically different laws or regulations. Keep the following tips in mind when driving in New Zealand:
1. Drive on the left
If you come from the United Kingdom or Australia, you should have no trouble following this rule of the road; however, visitors from the United States, mainland Europe, or other countries where drivers are on the right side of the road will have to get accustomed to driving on the left. It may be difficult to break the habit; therefore, stay vigilant and make sure that you are not accidentally drifting over into the opposing lane without noticing. Use the correct turn signals and give yourself time to make turns when you are just starting out; however, eventually you should feel just as confident to drive on the left side without giving it a second thought!
2. Slow down.
Be sure to stick to the speed limit (as enumerated on road signs), as everywhere, it is important for reasons of safety and legality; not only could you get a speeding ticket for going too fast, but you can also put yourself and others in danger. However, slowing down is also a matter of aesthetics; Many New Zealand roads are curvy or steep, meaning that slowing down is even more essential, and beneficial to get a better view at the gorgeous scenery of New Zealand
3. Pace yourself.
If you are traveling a long distance, allow yourself breaks from driving, stop once an hour and walk around a bit. Not only will this give time for your body, brain and eyes to relax and rejuvenate - it will also make you a safer driver when you do get back behind the wheel - and will also give you the opportunity to get out and experience the scenery without feeling fatigue.
4. Wear a seat belt.
It’s the law: simple as that. New Zealand requires drivers and passengers to wear seat belts, which will protect you in case of an accident. Children must be secured in an approved child seat if they are too small to wear a regular seat belt.
5. Pull over to let others pass.
It’s road etiquette: if you see a car/cars close behind you and obviously wanting to go faster, pull over to let them pass. Motorhomes and camper van are commonly slower than smaller vehicles and can provide a real obstruction on two-lane roads. Save yourself the stress of having cars stacking up behind you, and allow the other drivers to go at their own pace without obstacles.
6. Never drink and drive.
There are strict laws and steep fines for those who disregard the rules of driving while intoxicated, and you could be refused the right to drive in the country if you are a foreign visitor. Before you drive intoxicated we ask if you consider your safety and the safety of others on the road. Driving under the influence can slow your reflexes, blur your vision, and restrict judgment which can put everyone involved at significant risk of injury and death.
7. Consider the weather.
In New Zealand, the weather may be sunny and clear, and the next minute it could be raining, it can change in a flash. Before you drive it is important to check the weather forecast and be aware of what kind of weather could occur during your travel. It is important to consider issues such as black ice in the winter and sun glare in the summer, and prepare accordingly. If you are not confident in unfamiliar weather conditions, do not drive. Listen to all weather advisories given in the area where you are driving. Finally, keep an emergency kit with a spare tire, flashlight, and repair tools to be able to respond to that unpredictable weather, and for any other situation that may arise.