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Why carry an IDP while driving in New Zealand?

Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in the 12 most widely spoken languages in the world – it is understandable to most of the local officials and authorities of the countries you visit.

It translates your identification information into 12 languages — so it speaks the language even if you don’t. New Zealand highly recommends an International Driving Permit.

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Top Destinations of New Zealand

In the southwestern Pacific Ocean lies a fascinating island country called New Zealand, where photos aren’t enough to capture its alluring charm. Driving in the country seems like you’re in a whimsical fairy tale adventure where nothing could go wrong. With an International Driving Permit in New Zealand, nothing can stop you from visiting the enchanting snowy mountains, dazzling glaciers, and beautiful towns and cities.

If you want to take your time to thoroughly explore New Zealand, it is highly recommended to drive through the country using a rented car. Driving is not an issue in New Zealand as long as you have the essential documents that law officials may need during checkpoints. Part of which is an International Driver’s License in New Zealand, that is now legally called an “International Driver’s Permit.”

First of all, what is an International Driver’s License or Permit, rather, in New Zealand?

An IDP in New Zealand, is a useful document which translates your native driver’s license information into ten (10) or more languages. Since the primary language of New Zealanders or Kiwis are English and Te Reo Maoiri, it is highly recommended to secure a printed and digital copy of an International Driver’s Permit to drive in New Zealand.

Do You Need An International Driving Permit for New Zealand?

The International Driver’s Permit’s main function is to translate your native driver’s license data into ten 10 or more languages. However, if you are coming in from Australia, you do not need an International Driver’s Permit, but it may come in handy when renting a vehicle. So yes, Australians may need an International Driver’s License in New Zealand or your overseas driver licence indeed.

As for foreign tourists native to a country whose main language is not English, an IDP is highly recommended. To avoid miscommunication between law officials, an International Driver’s License for New Zealand is an essential item to bring.

Do US Citizens Need to Get An International Driving Permit?

It is not necessary for US Citizens to get an International Driving Permit to drive in New Zealand. However, it does benefit you if you encounter New Zealander law officials that do not speak English well. If their accent isn’t as clear as the American English, it would be a cause of miscommunication between the two.

Where to Get an International Driving Permit for New Zealand?

Getting an International Driver’s Permit for New Zealand is simple. All you need to do is to settle all the IDP requirements needed in the form, provide your photos, native driver’s license information, address that has your zip code, and all the other necessary details. We, the International Drivers Association (IDA), are one of the most trusted sites you would ever find to process your IDP for New Zealand.

With a 4.8 TrustPilot rating, it is easily assumed that this website ensures confidentiality and capability of processing your International Driver’s Permit for New Zealand online.

How to Get an International Driving Permit for New Zealand Online?

To get your IDP processed immediately, you need to fill out the application form accurately in the International Driver’s Association. Take note on avoiding any mistakes as these IDPs will be ordered, processed, printed, and shipped to your address.

  • Fill out your information for your International Driver’s Permit for New Zealand by completely writing your name, birthdate, address with zip code, and other essential data.
  • Pick a package or year of validity for your IDP do you prefer: 1, 2, or 3 years.
  • Select whether you want both printed and digital copy or simply the digital copy.
  • If you want to get your digital copy within 20 minutes, top up your total costs with $30.
  • Expect your printed copy to get shipped within 24 hours if you’re living in the states or 30 days, internationally.

So, before you travel to the country of New Zealand and rent a car, get an IDP ahead of time. Nothing beats being prepared for your travels to save time and explore the following top destinations.

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is the home of the highest mountains and longest glaciers in the country. The park is the best climbing region in Australasia, with stunning views of the peaks and star-filled sky. If you’re an adventure-seeking individual, you can engage in mountaineering and skiing activities in the area. If you want less adventurous activities, you can take mountain walks or do glacier viewing in the park.

Winter climbing is one of the highlights in the park. However, this extreme sport is not for the faint-hearted. It is highly recommended for well-prepared and experienced mountaineers. December to February are the peak months of the park. If you want to see the magnificent autumn colors, it’s best to visit the park from March to May. Driving in New Zealand in May offers one of the best driving experiences in the country.

Driving Directions:

  • From Wanaka, continue a short distance to Tarras.
  • Leaving Tarras, continue onto Lindis Pass until you reach Omarama.
  • From Omarama, pass by Lake Twizel until you reach Lake Pukaki.
  • Continue driving for 30 minutes, and you’ll reach Mount Cook.

Before hitting the road, make sure you have your valid driving license and international driving permit in New Zealand to avoid getting in trouble with the authorities. Also, always obey the rules of driving in New Zealand to prevent accidents, especially on narrow roads.

Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier

The Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier still flow almost to sea level, a feat considering that most glaciers in the world are gradually melting. The glaciers are famous for the temperate climate, making them two of the most convenient glaciers to visit in the world. You can take walks at the foot of Franz Josef Glacier along the river valley or journey onto the ice with professional guides.

The glaciers were named after important people in New Zealand History. The Franz Josef Glacier was named after the emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Josef, while the Fox Glacier was named after Sir William Fox. The best time to visit the glaciers is between December and February, when the temperature is cooler. Tourists coming from tropical countries will surely enjoy the climate here.

Driving Directions:

  • Get on State Hwy 1
  • Follow State Hwy 1, State Hwy 1B, and State Hwy 1 to Horahora Rd in Piarere.
  • Follow Old Taupo Rd, State Hwy 32, and State Hwy 41 to Volcanic Loop Hwy/State Hwy 1 in Turangi.
  • Follow State Hwy 1 to Centennial Hwy in Ngauranga, Wellington. Take the exit toward State Hwy 2/Hutt Valley/Picton Ferry from State Hwy 1.
  • Continue on Centennial Hwy. Take Hutt Rd to Wellington - Picton (Interislander Cook Strait Ferry).
  • Take the Wellington - Picton (Interislander Cook Strait Ferry).
  • Follow Lagoon Rd and Kent St to State Hwy 1 in Picton.
  • Continue on State Hwy 1. Take State Hwy 62 to State Hwy 63 in Blenheim.
  • Turn right onto State Hwy 63 (signs for Wairau Valley/Westport/Christchurch/Rainbow Ski Area/Lake Rotoiti).
  • Follow State Hwy 6 and State Hwy 7 to State Hwy 6 in Fox Glacier.
  • Head north on State Hwy 6 toward Sullivan Rd to reach Franz Josef Glacier.

If you’re driving from north to south in New Zealand, you need to take a ferry and leave your rental car. It’s best to book a rental car online before you arrive at your destination, so you don’t have to worry about finding rental companies in the area. Don’t forget to bring your international driver’s license for New Zealand.

Kaikoura

Located between Seaward Kaikoura Range and the Pacific Ocean, Kaikoura is a picturesque coastal town famous for marine life encounters and is considered the best place to eat crayfish. As a two-hour drive north of Christchurch, the town is a perfect day trip destination for wildlife-loving tourists. You can take whale and seal watching trips or take peaceful coastal walks while in town. You can also check out the lovely cafes and restaurants here.

Include the lovely town of Kaikoura in your itinerary for road trips in New Zealand and be amazed by the abundant mammal encounters here. If you want to immerse yourself in the Maori culture, visiting the town allows you to meet the country’s indigenous people. Kaikoura is known as one of the early Maori settlements.

Driving Directions:

  • From Christchurch, get on State Hwy 1 in Belfast from Madras St, Cranford St, Main N Rd, and State Hwy 74
  • Continue onto State Hwy 1. Keep right to stay on the highway.
  • At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit and stay on State Hwy 1 heading to Picton. The drive takes two and a half hours from Christchurch to Kaikoura.

An international driving license is required in New Zealand if your local driving license is not in English. If you don’t know how to apply for an international driving license in New Zealand, you can apply online at our International Drivers Association website page for an overseas licence in New Zealand. You can get your IDP in 20 minutes after they review your application when you choose express processing. Once you have it, you can start hitting any New Zealand road like every other overseas driver and New Zealand driver.

Lake Tekapo

As part of the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, Lake Tekapo is the perfect spot for stargazing and southern lights viewing. Lake Tekapo is famous for its clear night sky and lack of light pollution. The magnificent turquoise color of the lake adds a dramatic effect to the Southern Lights in the area. You’ll also find the stunning Church of Good Shepherd on the shores of the lake, making the whole area look like a romantic scene in a painting.

Lake Tekapo was discovered by a Scottish shepherd, James McKenzie, who later became a sheep stealer when he brought flocks of sheep inland to avoid being discovered. The best time to visit Lake Tekapo is in spring when lupins are in full bloom, and the skies are clearer, offering a magnificent view.

Driving Directions:

  • From Christchurch, follow Manchester St, Moorhouse Ave, and Durham St S to State Hwy 76 in Sydenham.
  • Take State Hwy 1 to Orari Station Rd in Orari.
  • Then, take State Hwy 79 to Mount Cook Rd/State Hwy 8 in Fairlie.
  • Turn right onto Mount Cook Rd/State Hwy 8 (signs for Lake Tekapo/Aoraki / Mount Cook/Aoraki). It will take 3 hours to reach your destination.

Always bring your driving license and international driver’s permit for New Zealand in case authorities need to check your driving documents. Your international driver’s permit in New Zealand must be in English for the police to recognize your IDP as a valid translation.

Matamata

With its lush farmland, this spot is famous as the location of The Hobbit movie. Here you’ll find 44 unique hobbit holes, including the famous Bag End. The place is livelier at night with available evening tours that include a feast that replicates the hobbit’s feast. You can also try the farm stays in the town or visit the spectacular Wairere Falls, the highest waterfall in North Island. The walking track around the falls offers beautiful scenery of the valley and Waikato plains.

You’ll also find the Thompsons Track, one of the best tracks for off-road driving in New Zealand. The current location of Matamata was the site of the early settlements of the Waharoa. The best time to visit Matamata is between December and February, when the weather is slightly warmer.

Driving Directions:

  • From Auckland, get on State Hwy 1.
  • Follow State Hwy 1 and State Hwy 2 to State Hwy 27 in Mangatarata.
  • Continue onto State Hwy 27 (signs for Matamata/Tirau/Rotorua).
  • At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit and stay on State Hwy 27 heading to Matamata/Tirau.
  • At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Broadway/State Hwy 24 heading to Tauranga/Town Centre. The drive will take approximately two hours to reach Matamata. Expect that the travel may take longer, depending on the weather condition.

When driving a car in New Zealand, be aware of the road signs on the road to make it easier for you to navigate them. Always bring your international driver’s permit for New Zealand when driving from Auckland to Matamata.

Milford Sound

Located on the South Island’s west coast, Milford Sound is a paradise for adventurous tourists with plunging cliffs and roaring waterfalls. Here you can take a day or overnight boat cruise or go kayaking and check unexplored waterways and lakes. You’ll pass by the thundering Sunderland Falls and even meet dolphins, seals, and Fiordland Crested Penguin. If you’re not into water adventures, you can trek the infamous Milford Track that could last for four days.

In 1812, Captain John Grono and his crew were the first Europeans to visit the area. He named the place after Milford Haven of Wales. The best time to go to Milford Sound is in winter. However, the site is most visited around November to March. With 2,000 visitors per day.

Driving Directions:

  • From Queenstown, Head southeast on State Hwy 6A toward Ballarat St.
  • At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto State Hwy 6 heading to Airport/Milford Sound / Piopiotahi/Milford Sound/Piopiotahi.
  • Turn right onto State Hwy 97 (signs for Te Anau/Milford Sound/Piopiotahi/Heritage Trail).
  • Turn right onto State Hwy 94 (signs for Te Anau/Milford Sound / Piopiotahi/Milford Sound/Piopiotahi).
  • Turn right onto Sandy Brown Rd.
  • Turn right onto State Hwy 94. It will take three and a half hours to arrive in Milford Sound from Queenstown.

Car rentals make driving in New Zealand a better experience. Bring the requirements for driving in New Zealand if you opt to rent a car. Bring your international driver’s permit in New Zealand at all times.

Napier

Located in Hawke’s Bay, Napier is famous for the well-preserved 1930s architecture, with the complete collections of Art Deco in the world. As the oldest town in Hawke’s Bay, visiting Napier feels like stepping on a 1930s film set as you tour around the area. You can also check out the wineries and restaurants in the town. You can also take scenic photos from the Viewing Platform on the Marine Parade foreshore.

Founded in 1855, Napier became the leading of the region because of its ideal location. The town was formerly known as Ahuriri, situated between the sea and an inner harbor. Napier is a perfect destination for road trips in New Zealand. The best time to visit this charming town is during summer between December and February when the weather is quite cold.

Driving Directions:

  • From Auckland, get on State Hwy 1.
  • Continue on State Hwy 1. Take State Hwy 1B, State Hwy 1, and Thermal Explorer Hwy/State Hwy 5 to Carlyle St in Marewa, Napier.
  • At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Taupo St/State Hwy 1 heading to Tokoroa/Taupo.
  • Follow Carlyle St to Clive Square W in Napier South. The drive may take 5 hours or longer from Auckland.

Bring an international driving permit in New Zealand wherever you go. An IDP is one of the requirements in driving in New Zealand, so it’s essential to secure one before you drive in the country. If you’re driving a motorcycle in New Zealand, make sure you have the appropriate motorcycle license. Driving a motorcycle is perfect for off-road driving in New Zealand.

Waitomo Caves

Waitomo Hills is the home of caves, sinkholes, and underground rivers where fun adventures happen. For adventure-loving tourists, try the Black Water Rafting, where you’ll crawl, swim, and float through the caves on a rubber tube. You can also take a walking or boat tour if rafting seems unappealing to you. You can also take walking tours at the Marokopa Falls, Mangapohue Natural bridge, and Waitomo Museum Caves.

The caves had been unexplored until 1887 when the local Maori Chief Tane Tinorau, accompanied by an English surveyor Fred Mace extensively explored the caverns. Aside from extreme water activities, the caves are also famous as the home of glowworms. The best time to visit the caves is during the summer when caves are warm and humid. It’s quite cold to visit the caves during the colder months.

Driving Directions:

  • From Auckland, Get on State Hwy 1.
  • Follow State Hwy 1 to State Hwy 39 in Waikato. Take the State Hwy 39 exit from State Hwy 1.
  • Continue on State Hwy 39. Drive to Waitomo Village Rd in Waitomo. It may take two hours to drive to the destination.

The driving directions in New Zealand are manageable as long as you obey the road rules and follow the road signs diligently. If you’re still hesitant to drive in the country, you can research tips on driving in New Zealand and try following them. When driving from north to south of New Zealand, you need an international driving license in New Zealand.

Most Important Rules of Driving in New Zealand

The New Zealand roads in the North and South Islands are easy to navigate as long as you follow the driving directions. Besides learning the tips on driving in New Zealand, it’s essential to be familiar with the country’s most important road rules.

Carry your valid driving license and international driver’s permit at all times

An international driver’s license is required in New Zealand along with your valid local driver’s license. Your international driver’s permit in New Zealand must be in English for authorities to recognize. Driving without a driving license or even an IDP can convict you for unlicensed driving or driving without an appropriate license. Police officers also check your IDP and driving licenses at checkpoints.

If you’re unsure how to apply for an international driving license in New Zealand, you can get your IDP from the International Driver’s Association with easy steps. To obtain an international driver’s permit for New Zealand, you only need to fill out the application form on the website, upload your passport-size photos, and wait for confirmation. You can get your digital copy in just 20 minutes.

Do not drive over the speed limit

Overspeeding has been one of the significant road killers in the country. Overspeeding is extremely dangerous, especially on hilly and narrow roads. The speed limits in New Zealand are imposed, accounting the varying road, weather, and traffic conditions throughout the country. Although it can be tempting to drive fast on quiet, empty roads, speeding is highly discouraged to avoid accidents.

Maintain a speed limit of 50 KpH in cities and towns and a speed limit of 100 KpH on open roads. It’s compulsory to follow the speed limit in speed limit signs with red borders. If you’re caught overspeeding, you can get fined up to $630 or get your license suspended. It’s essential to follow the road rules when driving in New Zealand to ensure everyone’s road safety.

Drunk driving is strictly prohibited

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious crime in New Zealand. It’s extremely dangerous to drive after drinking alcohol as it impairs your senses and reaction. New Zealand imposes a zero alcohol limit on drivers under 20 years old. For drivers over 20 years old, the legal alcohol limit is 50 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood or 250mcg alcohol per liter of breath.

The police can conduct breathalyzer tests at checkpoints to ensure all drivers follow this road rule when driving in New Zealand. If you’re caught drunk driving, you’ll lose your license for six months, get a hefty fine, and gain a criminal record in the country.

Seatbelts are Compulsory

Wearing seat belts can reduce fatalities in road accidents as it supports your body during a crash or sudden stops. If you’re driving a car in New Zealand, always wear your seatbelts. All modern vehicles should be fitted with seatbelts in the front and rear seats. Children under seven years old should be buckled up in an approved car seat. For children aged seven to fourteen years old, they must be seated at the back wearing seat belts.

Wearing seat belts is a compulsory rule when driving in New Zealand. You can face a fine of $150 per person. The driver has to pay for the penalty for passengers under 15 years old that are caught not wearing a seatbelt. For passengers who are 15 years old and above, they would be responsible for paying the fine.

Drive on the left hand side of the road.

Keep in mind that the driving position in New Zealand is at the left-hand side of the road, and the driver sits on the right. The driving position in New Zealand can be confusing for people coming from countries that drive on the right-hand side of the road, especially when you’re pulling out into the traffic. It may take a few days to get used to driving on the left side, but it gets easier to navigate New Zealand roads once you get familiar with it.

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