Points of difference
We want to keep you safe on our roads. Take time to look at these points of difference. These are the key points that have tripped drivers up recently.
We drive on the left: This can be a challenge to remember especially when pulling out into traffic or at night. Get in to the habit of checking yourself before you use the accelerator.
Stop signs: In New Zealand this means complete stop, rather than a rolling stop. They are in spots that are known to be hazardous.
Hilly (elevated), narrow or windy roads: We have a lot of surprising roads, and they are often through the most scenic of routes. The key is to stay on your own side of the road and reduce your speed. Factor a longer journey in to your travel times. Tourist routes have lots of rest areas to stop safely so take advantage of these and take regular breaks.
Railway crossings: Red flashing lights means a train is coming, so stop until the lights have stopped flashing. Other crossings only have a ‘Railway Crossing’ sign. You need to stop, look both ways and only cross the track if there are no trains approaching. About half of our railway crossings are not automated.
Gravel roads: We have a good number of roads with loose gravel in back country areas off the main routes. These can be tricky and your car may not behave as you expect. Also clouds of dusty dirt will cover your car and surrounding paddocks. Take it easy, reduce your speed considerably and watch your cornering. Most importantly if you have an accident on a gravel road, there is a 99.9% chance you will not be insured!
Main and back roads: You will be sharing the road with farm vehicles, milk collection trucks and stock vehicles. Many are professional drivers going about their business. It takes a time to get the big trucks up to speed, and space to make a turn so please, give them room. Also watch out for people on biking holidays. They are to be admired for their effort (especially in a northwest wind).
Stock movements: It’s quite fun watching a farmer move sheep and cattle over road ways, and we reckon you have to experience it. Don’t sound your horn or rev the engine. Drive slowly and steadily, and you’ll be through in no time.
Carry your driver licence: If your licence is not in English, you must carry a translation from an approved translator. Always carry your driver license.
Drink driving: Alcohol has a different effect on everyone but it is advisable to not drink any alcohol when you will be driving. The blood alcohol limit in New Zealand is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. This is about two standard drinks for a man or one for a woman.
Texting while driving: Using a mobile phone while driving is illegal.
Seatbelts: You and your passengers must wear a seatbelt if one is fitted in the seat you’re using.
Drive for the conditions:
- If you are in a city, the following times are worth avoiding:
- workers will be travelling between 8-9am and 4.30 – 6pm.
- Kids go to school 8.30-9am and home 2.45-3.15pm, so watch out for littlies.
- Tune the radio into weather reports before you leave, so you don’t get caught out.
- Exposed places can get very windy at times. If you are travelling in a campervan on a windy day, consider waiting until it eases up a bit.
- In winter, rural roads can get icy and it’s not always visible. If you don’t have to travel at the crack of dawn, it’s worth delaying until the sun warms the road. If you have to travel, reduce your speed, avoid sudden braking or direction changes, and allow greater following distances.
- If you’re driving in the South Island in winter, spring or late autumn, snow is possible. So, ensure that you’re carrying chains (and know how to fit them) if a cold snap has been forecast.