So you're planning a driving holiday around New Zealand, are you? That's a coincidence that's what we're going to talk about here! What's that? Some of you aren't planning one? Why not? Just think about it; cruising around one of the world's most beautiful countries, at your own pace, taking in the sights and sounds and immersing yourself in the culture. Sounds good, eh? We knew we'd talk you into it... But, as with anything, there are a few things to know before you get involved a few useful tips that will help you on your way. We've drawn up a list of 10 dos and don'ts that we think will make things run that little bit smoother. We spoil you, we really do...
Carry on driving on the left hand side.
Here in the UK we're one of only a few countries that drive on the left, so it can be tempting to switch to the right when you pick up the keys to your hire car abroad. Not in NZ though! Keep left.
The speed limit here is 70mph and that's often exceeded on motorways, isn't it? Not so in New Zealand. The limit is 62mph (that's 100kph) over there and most drivers generally drive slightly below that.
The driver safety rules just like their seat belts aren't slackened down under. Belt up or go down! Okay, you won't go to prison... But you will get in trouble!
Be aware of different routes.
In Spring and Winter, the weather can get pretty troublesome. Ice and snow can put plenty of roads up and down the country out of action, so always be aware of alternative routes.
Is your car suitable for certain roads?
Consider whether your hire car is suitable for the road's surface. A lot of roads, especially in the countryside, are filled in with or lined with loose gravel. If you're driving a friend's battered old 4x4, you needn't worry. If you're driving a brand new (and scratch-free) rental vehicle, you may want to take a different route. Look out for gravel verges too.
Account for the terrain along your journey...
We've already mentioned the slower driving speeds, but there are also factors such as steep hilly inclines and winding mountain roads that can slow your journey time down significantly.
Keep your driving licence to hand at all times!
It is an offence to drive without your licence to hand, so make sure you don't leave your driving licence at the hotel...
Drive about in the country for more than twelve months without having applied for an official NZ licence.
Your own licence is okay for a year. More than that and you'll need a local licence.
It can be prove very difficult (and expensive!) to hire a car if you are under the age of 21 and if you do hire a car - don't forget that everything is in 'kilometres' and 'kilometres per house'...!
Have you ever hit the open road down that way? What did you notice? If you've any driving tips or New Zealand roads, please share them!