Features of traffic rules in New Zealand

The traffic system in New Zealand is quite simple and straightforward. As a rule, road signs are very similar to road signs of the CIS countries. But the direction of movement, markings, as well as some other nuances of traffic are significantly different. Such differences often become sources of controversy and raise questions, especially among those who have recently arrived in the country. In this article, we will take a closer look at the features of New Zealand traffic rules.

Left side traffic

The first and most important thing to get used to is left-side traffic. In the flow of cars, you get used to the reverse order of movement rather quickly. However, when being on the road alone, it is easy to “get lost”. When leaving the adjoining territories or parking lots, as well as when turning according to the “old memory”, you can take the wrong position on the road. Depending on the intensity of daily driving, 2-4 weeks is enough for you to completely readjust and feel confident on the roads of New Zealand.

Road marking

New Zealand has two lane colours – white and yellow.

A white marking is for notification and is divided into solid and discontinuous. Both are used to separate and direct the moving stream of cars. A solid line is often used to separate streams in places where lane changes are considered undesirable, such as in front of an intersection or pedestrian crossing. Precisely undesirable. There is no strict prohibition on crossing the solid white line, but if an emergency occurs during such a manoeuvre, crossing the solid white line will be considered an aggravating moment.

traffic rules in New Zealand 1

On New Zealand roads, the Flush median is often used. It is an area that provides a safe right turn or exit from a minor road with the need to cross the stream.

flush median

If you are going to turn, then you are allowed to occupy this area in advance and move along it to the place of the turn. Also, if you entered it from a minor road, this zone allows you to wait for the right moment, as well as gain the required speed and join the stream.

Yellow markings are restrictive. A discontinuous yellow line along the curb prohibits stopping and parking. Yellow markings between oncoming traffic indicate a ban on overtaking. Discontinuous one warns that it is forbidden to start and it is necessary to finish overtaking that has been started earlier as the unsafe area is coming, indicated by a single or double solid yellow line.

Yellow line

Oddly enough, but there is no strict prohibition to cross the discontinuous or solid yellow line to enter the local area. But this is considered as an unsafe manoeuvre and in case of adverse consequences caused by this action, the driver will be responsible.

Rule of traffic path changing for merging flows – zip rule

In a situation where two paths merge into one the Zip Rule applies, in which the vehicle from the left lane alternates with the vehicle from the right lane, that is, “in turn”. It is important not to confuse this situation with the need to give way to the main stream if you enter it from a minor road. For example, when entering a motorway.

Speed limit

The maximum speed for driving on city roads is determined by speed limit signs. On most urban roads it is 50 km/h, but there are sections with a mode of 60 and even 80 km/h. At the same time, be careful in special zones, where restrictions are in effect on an ongoing basis. For example, a school zone where the maximum speed limit is 40 km/h.

On “open” roads, such as a motorway, the maximum speed is 100 km/h, while in the city in such places there are often signs limiting the speed on a permanent or temporary basis due to weather or other conditions.

There are a lot of signs limiting the maximum speed on New Zealand roads, and even on a short route, the speed limit can change repeatedly. In such conditions, we would advise you to pay more attention to the reading of road signs in order to avoid exceeding the speed limit on a particular road section.

Traffic lights

Traffic lights in New Zealand work a little differently than, for example, in Russia. The green colour does not blink warning of an imminent colour change but immediately changes to yellow. At the same time, the rules for driving to yellow are the same as in Russia – you can complete the manoeuvre if you need emergency braking to stop.

Such a system for changing signals can be the cause of nervous tension for a long time for the driver, who is used to being warned in advance about changing the traffic signal to prohibiting.


In New Zealand cities, especially in the central part of Auckland, there are many cyclists who are full participants in the road traffic. On some roads, they have a separate lane or a separate track. In other cases, cyclists share the road equally with motorists. The driver of the car must always take extreme care and attention to the two-wheeled vehicles and provide them with sufficient space for manoeuvring – at least 1.5 m. According to the rules, a cyclist should move by the road side. But in case of a large number of cars parked at the side of the road, the cyclist can ride in the middle of the lane until the roadside movement will not become more comfortable for him, and he will not have to readjust all the time to avoid parked cars and other possible obstacles. In this case, motorists will slowly follow the cyclist until there is sufficient space for a safe overtaking.

The absence of documents for the car

When driving in New Zealand, you only need to carry your driver’s license with you. You do not need to have any other documents such as a technical passport for a car. There is no analogue to this document at all. All vehicle records are kept in the system of the transport agency and almost all information about the operation of the car, except for the owner’s personal data, is available online for everyone. Thus, by the car number, an officer can quickly and accurately find out all the information, and anyone can check the mileage of the car, how many owners it had and even the history of passing the technical inspection, which is very useful when purchasing a used car.

Accustomed to local driving habits, most people agree that driving on New Zealand roads is virtually stress-free and respectful to each other. Emergency situations occur infrequently, due to the fact that all more or less complicated intersections are regulated by traffic lights or circular traffic, which minimises the risk of making a wrong decision when leaving a minor road.

Take a free test of preparation for the New Zealand driver licence exam.

Useful links:

Buying a car in New Zealand

Getting driver licences in New Zealand

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