Aussies have a few driving rules of their own, but so do Kiwis - and the sheep are definitely a factor. So before you as much as strap in (yes, you're legally required to wear safety belts in the front and back seats in NZ), make note of these sure-fire tips for driving down under.
1. Learn to communicate in Kiwi. Indicators? Overtake? Things are a little different in New Zealand - I challenge anyone to tell me what this sign (left) means, for example. So before you drive anywhere, learn a few common terms like indicators (turn signals); overtake (pass); give way (yield); and unsealed roads (unpaved or gravel roads).
2. Know the Give Way Rule. This is a rather tough one, thus the handy diagram (right). The Give Way Rule states that if you're turning, you must give way to all vehicles that are not turning; in all other situations, give way to vehicles crossing or coming from your right.
3. Plan extra driving time. NZ roads can be narrow at times, not to mention hilly, curvy, and littered with sheep. Add weather to unsealed (anyone? anyone?) hills with curves and livestock, and it's easy to see why a short distance could take more time.
4. Know the speed/don't speed.
On most main roads in NZ, the speed limit is 100 km/h unless another speed is posted. Do the conversion in your head, carry a conversion chart in your car, or memorize this: 100 km/h = 62.14 mph. We also have it on good authority that those sneaky "speed cameras" are everywhere in NZ, so let up on your lead foot in these parts.
5. You don't have to have a NZ drivers license. As long as you hold a valid and current overseas driver license or international driving permit, you can drive for a maximum of 12 months from the date you arrive in New Zealand (more details at NZ Transport Agency). Plus, each time you visit the country - assuming you ever leave - you can drive for another 12-month period as long as you don't stay longer than one year.
6. Follow the farmer's instructions. Not if, but when you encounter a sheep jam (or cow jam), you're asked to follow the farmer's instructions. Oh, and if you come up on animals, DON'T honk - it may startle them. Or the farmer...
7. Keep to the left! Driving on the left side of the road is harder than it looks. If you drive on the right hand side in your own country, think long and hard about this before you ever get in a car - even seasoned ‘transplants' have a tendency to forget. There's even a practical driving 'practice' program online for learners.
Take a look at the official New Zealand Road Code book online. And don't forget to subscribe to this blog via email!