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Polynesia Driving Guide

Polynesia is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit

2021-08-03 · 9 min.

Sitting at the Pacific basin, Polynesia is one of the more enormous archipelagos in Oceania. The group of dotted islands can prove itself to be the right beach destination. The constant crashes of waves in these islands will be a pleasant tone in your ears. It is one of the places that many can consider as a perfect beach relaxation setup. The most important of them is the set of endless activities you can do in this sandy paradise.

You can locate many well-known places within this broken chain of islands. In the southwest part of the area is the country of New Zealand. You may know the country by the immense number of cattle in the area. In the north part of the region lies Hawaii, and we all know that this country is most known for its white-sand beaches. The cozy sands and summery weather helps it screams to its tourists to relax and enjoy the coast.

How Can This Guide Help You?

This guide closes the gap of uncertainties between the locals. The guide provides you the information that you need before you travel to Polynesia. It includes the activities you can do at top destinations that might pique your interest. As for driving in the islands of Polynesia, this gives you a quick run-down of driving rules and etiquette. All are beneficial when you follow this driving guide. Stick around to find out more about driving in Polynesia area.

General Information

Polynesia is a group of islands together with Micronesia and Melanesia in Oceania. The area is more of a region of civilized dotted islands than a single state nation on itself. Within Polynesia lies some known countries such as New Zealand and the state of Hawaii by the USA. The islands’ group displays some of the best beaches globally due to its location in the Pacific Ocean.

Geographic Location

Polynesia lies between the Australian continent and America. Some islands of this region cross the International Date Line. This makes a part of the region's location halved on the world’s left and right hemispheres. Among the three Oceania archipelagos, Polynesia is the largest. This country boasts the largest landmass and the largest territory among the three.

You can find the majority of its landmass in New Zealand. This country is a highland, full of mountainous geography, while some islands fall 0 km above sea level. One more thing to note is that the whole area of islands is in the equatorial region. As such, seasons like climate and autumn are never an everyday occurrence there.

Languages Spoken

Because different nations make up the Polynesian region, language varies in the localities. While scholars called their language "Polynesian," the essence of it is still diverse. Some would argue that Samoan was the dominant language. Some also say that there are also significant languages present other than Samoan. For instance, Maori is a language spoken by New Zealanders. There is also Tahitian, in which small tribes in French Polynesia only speak that.

Almost everyone in these islands can speak English. The only distinction between them is through their accents. New Zealand has a heavy British-Australian accent, while many talks in a Pacific accent. On an exciting note, it's weird that French Polynesia does not speak in French.

Land Area

The area has well over 800,000 square miles of area territory. Despite the large size of this area, only 14% percent of this area is the actual landmass. Out of the content present in this region, 87% of which is New Zealand.


During its pre-colonial era, Melanesian seafarers were the first people to occupy it. History suggests that the early settlers are experts in sailing and navigation. This is even before cartography, maps, and compasses were even a thing. The same Melanesians who settled helped spread the first culture in these islands.

At the time of Europe's age of exploration, a Spanish sailor, Alvaro Neira, discovered the place. It was James Cook who paved the way for the colonization of these islands. These were the times where the colonizers impose much of the western cultures on the natives. At world wars, these islands became the victims of island hopping, both by the US and Japan. The independence of the countries within Polynesia happened shortly after the war.


Much of the countries inside Polynesia are former colonies of the west. It was at their independence that most of the countries adopted a western democracy. There are some parts of the archipelago that are dependent on their colonizers. The last thing to note is that there are islands in this region that are, in fact, states. An example is Hawaii in the United States therein.


Tourism is something that Polynesia tries to improve. This industry serves as a backup income instead of being the primary generator of profit. The area's tourism comes from beaches, but New Zealand harbors breathtaking mountains. When people come to Polynesia, they go to Hawaii's beach or New Zealand's mountain areas. It is in New Zealand, where you can drive on the Polynesia border.

Tourism was the driving force of various governments to preserve their culture. Some activists worry that these tourists will kill the natural resources and beautiful coastline. Others agree that it's tourism that will get destroyed by the harsh waves of Oceania.


You might not know it, but driving in the Polynesia area can be hassle-free! You can achieve this by providing all the requirements needed to drive. Some countries require an International Driving Permit to translate your license. This will, in turn, solve language differences between you and the authorities. If driving in Polynesia zip code, you have to fill up the complete personal information and address for tracking your IDP. Here are a few things you need to know about an international driver’s license in Polynesia.

Is a Local Driver’s License Valid in Polynesia?

Polynesia is not a singular state nation. Various laws may apply to you depending on the country you're trying to visit. For example, in Hawaii, because it is a US state, US Federal Laws apply. One of which is that they can allow foreigners to drive up to 3 months as long as they can present an IDP and license. This may not be the case in other state countries such as New Zealand or American Samoa.

Take note that your International Driving Permit does not replace your driver's license. If you have an expired license, or the court revoked or suspended your license, you're not allowed to drive. Without a valid license, local enforcement can charge you for unlicensed driving. Having an IDP is essential when driving in the Polynesia area.

Do I Need an IDP in Cities and Districts of Polynesia?

When driving in Polynesia, Polynesian need not have an International Driver's Permit, but foreigners must-have. The only issue here is the inconsistency of laws applied to you. Some countries are more welcoming to driving foreigners. Some countries do not allow foreigners to drive at all. If you don't want to get an IDP, you have to waste more time getting a license endorsed by the local authorities. That is why it’s recommended to get an IDL from the International Drivers Association instead.

When applying for an international driver’s license in Polynesia online, you don’t need to take any tests. You also don't need to take driving lessons in a driving school. What you need to do is to carry your international driver’s license at all times. But it is advisable that you still need to bring an international driver’s license on district roads. Many Polynesian countries need foreigners to carry an IDP when driving in Polynesia area.

Does an IDP Replace Your Native Driver’s License?

An IDP does not replace your native driver’s license as it is only a translation of your driving information. Remember, an IDP is not a license. You can’t use an IDP alone when driving on Polynesia border, so you need to bring your native driver’s license at all times.

Renting a Car in Polynesia

The countries New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Samoa are among the six that are included in the Polynesian Islands. Renting a car in the Polynesian Islands can be unnecessary since some islands are so small that you could walk to your destination. Car rental costs and companies vary in the different places in The Polynesian Islands.

But if you get tired easily when walking, you would have to rent a car when driving in Polynesia resorts. Ensure that you have your International Driver’s License and the essential documents with the rental companies with you when driving in Polynesia location. The papers might need a translation if it is not written in English or French. It is better to carry an IDP because there is no need to translate.

Car Rental Companies

Most tourists opt to rent a car in the Polynesian Islands to make their journey more enjoyable and memorable. Thus, it also guarantees their safety. Always check your location when driving in Polynesia zip code to find the nearest rental company near you. Multiple suppliers are offering rental cars in Polynesia at an excellent price.

New Zealand

Car rental companies in New Zealand offer a variety of vehicles you can use. Here are the companies you can look for.

  • Sunny Cars
  • Hertz
  • Budget
  • AVIS
  • Thrifty
  • Keddy
  • Firefly
  • Europcar
  • ACE rental car
  • Apex Car Rentals
  • Ezi
  • Bargain Car rentals

Solomon Islands

When driving in Polynesia location, you need to rent a car to explore different islands. You can find affordable car rental on the web and book for your chosen vehicle ahead of your travel. You can also compare the prices of the car before booking. You can inquire about the following popular car rental sites available on the web:

  • CarSearchDirect.com
  • CarRentals.com
  • Economy Car Rentals Solomon Islands
  • RentalCarGroup.com
  • hotwire.com


There are different car rental agencies in Tonga available on the internet. Expedia has a wide variety of vehicles you can choose to suit your needs. Sunshine Rental Cars provides car rental services in Tonga since 2004. Their office is available 24/7 to serve you. You can find great deals at affordable prices when you book your car at Sunshine. Lastly, Star Rental Car Tonga has a special offer and discount during holidays. You can book online and choose your car to drive and explore the beauty of Tonga.


In Tuvalu, you can opt for one-way rentals. It means that you can rent in one place and return the car to a different location. You will have to pay extra if you opt for this. The terms and conditions will imply if the one-way charge is included in the rental payments, but if not, you’d have to pay it on arrival directly to the car agent. The companies that you could inquire in are:

  • Enterprise
  • Alamo
  • Europcar
  • Thrifty
  • National Car Rental
  • Dollar Rent-a-car
  • Budget
  • Sixt Rent a Car


Vanuatu has a variety of car rental companies too. Search for the Google Map on the web that will help you in driving in Polynesia on map. This will also guide you in finding the nearest car rental services available on Vanuatu. You can also search or book for your chosen car online. You can look and inquire about these companies:

  • Hertz
  • Budget
  • AVIS
  • Keddy
  • Europcar


Driving in Samoa is more convenient when you are driving in your vehicle. You can schedule your trip when driving in Polynesia destination at your convenience. There are few variations of rental companies you can inquire about. They are the following:

  • Budget
  • Discovery Car Rentals
  • AVIS

These are the car companies that could help you with your transport needs. Be sure to bring the needed documents that would make your transactions smooth. They have contact numbers where you can call and ask for more information.

Documents Required

Renting a car may be an exciting thing to do but you need to know what documents you need to bring for smooth processing. Car rental companies require that you have the following documents before renting a car:

  • Passport - You need a passport and other valid Identification Cards before you can travel to a foreign country. It is also required when renting a vehicle for proper identification.
  • Driver’s License - You will need a professional valid native driver’s license. The local authorities will not accept a learner’s permit or a Pink-issued driver’s license. In Tonga, the native driver’s license is issued in the police station upon arrival.
  • International Driver’s Permit - If your native driver’s license is not in English, you will need an International Driver’s Permit approved and translated. You have to apply for IDP on the International Drivers Association for fast approval before driving in Polynesia to your destination.
  • Credit or Debit Card - You need a valid credit or debit card before you can rent a car. This is necessary if you face a car accident and a deposit to pay for the car damage. In New Zealand, you will need a pre-authorization of your debit or credit card, which takes 7-10 business days, and you have to pay NZD 200.
  • Car Rental Insurance - When driving in the Polynesia border, you will need insurance for the driver, the passengers, and the car. You have to show proof of insurance before you can get the car. You can also pay for temporary insurance in different car-hire agencies for worry-free driving in Polynesia.
  • Bond - Some rental companies do not require a bond. In Samoa, you need a Bond or the Refundable Deposit before renting a vehicle. You can get this with Blue Pacific Car Hire. You can fully refund this if the car goes back to them in the same condition as how you rent the vehicle.

Vehicle Types

Car rental companies have cars that are suitable for the roads in the countries in Polynesia. For city driving, a compact, economy, midsize, or SUV car is the perfect one to opt for since the roads are well paved. But some terrains would require you to drive a four-by-four. Rental companies also suggest that you drive in Camper Vans. This allows you to camp out and enjoy nature. Also, it saves money for those amenities in your destination!

Age Requirements

Although the minimum age requirement to get a driver’s license is 18 years old, the typical age limit for car rentals in Polynesia is 21. If you are under 25, you need to pay an additional cost for the surcharge fee. Ensure that you have read all the terms and conditions to understand the exact amount you need to pay before booking a car.

Car Rental Cost

Car rental costs in Polynesia depend on the type of car you are planning to rent out. Car rental price ranges from $33 to $274 daily. It all depends on if you have additional expenses that come with the rental. That is if you rented with car insurance. From Economy cars to a full-sized SUV, you will find affordable car rental prices.

  • Economy - $33
  • Compact - $42
  • Full-Size - $54
  • Passenger Van - $78
  • Supplier Choice - $94
  • Mini Van - $104
  • Standard SUV - $274

Typically, the car’s cost would have included the insurance cost and other expenses they may incur. Always check the prices before booking because the prices listed above may vary depending on the car rental companies’ location. Ensure you have updated your site when driving in Polynesia on map to look for car rental companies near you.

Car Insurance Cost

Car rental insurances protect and help you in the event you meet with an accident on the open road. When you rent a car, car insurance is required. The car rental companies offer car insurance accompanying the vehicle you want to rent. This insurance is a contract between you and the car rental company that protects you against financial loss in an accident or theft case.

You must get this as it will be of great help, especially if the country you go to is dangerous. In the different countries of The Polynesian Islands, car insurance costs may vary depending on the country and its company. In New Zealand, it is cheaper to keep a vehicle. The insurance policy they offer with NZD 300 excess cover for an NZD 7000 car costs NZD 350 per year.

Car Insurance Policy

An insurance policy is a contract that has all the information that you need about what type of insurance you got, what it covers, and how long the duration of the policy lasts. Car insurance policies, for instance, have policies like Comprehensive cover, Third Party, Fire and Theft, and Third Party.

Comprehensive Cover

The agreed value covers you for most cars. It gives you the certainty of what you will get if your car is beyond repair or stolen. The policy covers your vehicle for accidental damage to your vehicle and other people as well.

Third-Party, Fire, and Theft

It covers you for the damage to someone else’s car or property while you were driving. It also protects your vehicle if it is damaged by fire or theft.


The most basic cover covering you when you cause someone else’s car to be damaged or someone’s property is damaged while you’re driving.

The Road Rules in Polynesia

Driving is what everyone wishes to achieve. When you know how to drive you can go anywhere you want. You can hang out with your friends and have some fun. It can add your self-confidence and be the coolest. Although it is fantastic, there is always a limitation for every act. You have rules to follow to make it possible.

Remember, following rules is essential. Polynesians have a strict law when it comes to driving. Traffic Laws are a big help in society. It keeps the roads well-organized. The traffic rules also create law-abiding citizens. Although there are some violators, the government always aims for the good of all.

Important Regulations

Before you go driving, you have to comply first with the given requirements. People who are underage, drunk, and are not in typical condition are not allowed to drive. Age requirements, technical knowledge, and a driver’s license are what you need to have for you to drive.

  • You must drive on the right side. When you are on the main roads, you have the right of way. Always give priority to all automobiles coming from the right side entering the street.
  • You should learn how to prevent yourself from danger. Keep your side mirrors in their right position. Check the wiper if it is functioning well, in case it rains. Clear your driveway. Always check the doors, seat belts, and brake lights before driving your car.
  • Driving on the road is not a race. Just slow down and go with the traffic flow. Never forget to use lights for signaling.
  • Drive when you’re in good shape. Drunk driving and using gadgets is prohibited by law because it is risky and causes accidents. The blood alcohol level is 0.05 % as permitted.
  • Never enter prohibited areas, especially with signages. Follow the appropriate parking areas. Secure the lock before you leave and use light so it is still visible at the parking lot.
  • If you have children under four years old, you have to provide a child safety seat. If they are between 4 and 8 years of age, they can use a booster seat.
  • Marked crosswalks are for pedestrians’ use. Always slow down your vehicle when a pedestrian is crossing the road.

Those offenders who will not obey the rules and regulations will be penalized. They will have a four-hour session and pay the fine worth $100 to $500 according to the number of offenses recorded. They will issue a ticket once they caught you for not buckling up your seat belts. In Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii, they have a fine worth $102, and for Kauai, they pay $112.

General Standards

The locals in Polynesia use either manual or automatic cars when driving. It is up to the user which type he prefers to use. See to it that you are knowledgeable in each kind of vehicle you select. If you’re not confident enough to use a manual car on foreign land, opt for selecting one that suits you.

Before you can drive in the Polynesian Islands, you need to get first your valid driver license and an International Driving Permit (IDP). It was required by the UK Foreign office that you must have your photo ID license and 1968 convention IDP. It is a one-of-a-kind driver’s license that gives you the right to drive even if you’re in a foreign country. It is acceptable to all countries.

Speed Limit

The driver’s speed is essential in driving. The speed limit in Polynesia is 40kph in crowded areas and 80 kph in open spaces. Since accidents may come along your way, you must observe the right speed.

Being in a hurry has become a part of everyone’s life. No matter how much you like to go to a place, safety is always necessary. Always know your limits. Don’t just be content that you know how to drive. You must be knowledgeable about the dos and don'ts.

Seatbelt Laws

French Polynesia is interrelated to France. It does not have public transport. So if you need to travel, then go to Tahiti. Every island has only paths being connected. Free roads are Tahiti, Mo'orea, Ra'iatea, and Taha'a. It is narrow and rocky; that’s why they need 4WD. They’re nearer transportations.

There's a blockage going to Rangiroa main island 10 kilometers, same from Makemo and Fakarava. There are also disabled ways of going to Marquesas. You need driving devices when driving in this area. There are also alternative shortcuts on Rurutu. Only in Australs is it available, but it is limited to only a few.

Keep in mind that the drivers on the main roads have the right way, especially on merging lanes. At roundabouts, always enter from the right side of the road. Still, slow down and give priority to vehicles entering on the right side.

Traffic Road Signs

Aside from imposing driving rules, Traffic Road Signs are placed on the street to remind everyone. It will guide you on what to do or where to go. It usually uses a light color so drivers can easily see the signages.

Warning Signs

Warning signs often come in red or yellow color to give warnings for potential danger. Everyone must follow these signs to prevent untoward incidents. Some of the common warning signs are:

  • Road narrows ahead
  • Warning for a sharp curve to the left
  • Warning for a narrowing
  • Crossing for pedestrians warning ahead
  • Warning for a dip on a road
  • Heavy crosswinds in the area warning
  • Rail crossing ahead with more than one railway
  • Double curve ahead to the left then to the right
  • Falling rocks in the road - area warning
  • Warning for low flying planes, aircraft, and jets
  • Cattle crossing
  • Loose chipping and stones on the road warning
  • Warning for sheep on the road
  • Warning for children and minors
  • Roadworks ahead warning
  • Warning for a limited height
  • Warning for an obstacle, pass left or right.
  • Traffic light ahead
  • Warning for a U-turn
  • Poor road surface ahead
  • Rail crossing without barriers ahead
  • Speed bumps in the road
  • Warning for curves
  • Two-way traffic ahead
  • Slippery road surface ahead
  • Steep descent and ascent ahead
  • Warning for a side road merging with the main road

Information Road Signs

These signs give information to the drivers about the road they are driving. This also issues warning on what lies ahead of the road.

  • Lane for cyclists - an exclusive avenue for people riding on a bicycle
  • Lane for buses - buses are also given a unique avenue for their use
  • One-way traffic
  • Motorway begins
  • Begin of an expressway
  • General information about the directions
  • Information about the destination of the ramp
  • Information about the directions of the roundabout
  • Parking permitted
  • Priority over oncoming traffic, road narrows

Mandatory Road Signs

These signages are the most crucial sign in Polynesian Islands. The color of this sign is blue and white. Everyone must obey these signs.

  • Passing left compulsory
  • Cyclists must use a mandatory path.
  • Pedestrians move to use mandatory paths.
  • Left turn mandatory
  • Turning right compulsory
  • Ahead only
  • Turning left or right mandatory
  • Pass on right only

Priority Road Signs

These signs give clarifications on who has the right of way at the junction or the roundabout. Priorities on the road differ in every country, and it is best if you get familiar with which side of the road is given priority.

  • Give way to all traffic.
  • Stop and give way to all traffic.
  • Give way to oncoming traffic; road narrows.
  • Crossroad ahead with the side road to the left
  • Crossroad ahead with the side road to the left and the right
  • Roundabout ahead
  • Warning stops and gives way ahead.
  • Give way ahead

Prohibitory Road Signs

Prohibitory road signs are signs to forbid the entry of specific vehicle types and certain movements’ restrictions on the road.

  • Cyclists not permitted
  • Buses prohibited
  • Begin of a zone with a speed limit
  • Trucks forbidden
  • Stopping and parking are forbidden.
  • No entry / One-way traffic
  • Pedestrians not permitted
  • Motorbikes/motorcycles prohibited.
  • Turning right prohibited
  • No turning / U-turn allowed.
  • Turning left prohibited
  • No parking
  • Speed limit
  • High restriction ahead

Since Polynesian Islands were claimed as one territory of France, they also share the same road signs. They have color-coded signals with different meanings.

  • When the background is blue, and the letters are written in color white, there are highways with tolls.
  • When the background is green, and the letters are written in color white, you’re crossing the national boundaries.
  • When the background is Red, and the letters are written in color white, it is the main road where trucks are passing.
  • When the background is yellow and is written in black, it means you need an alternative route.
  • Local roads are identified when their background is white and is written in black.

Rules are everywhere on islands, so you need further research. The right of way of Polynesian Islands road is always on the right-hand side.

Talking about the legal age for driving, you must be 18 years old. This is the minimum age requirement in driving as implemented in almost all countries, including the Polynesian islands.

Law on Overtaking

Overtaking is not always a bad idea if you use it rightfully. You should remind yourself that the side of the road that you’re going to drive is still at the right. Driving is not a joke. When you commit to it, you have to obey all the jurisdictions. Overtaking Law in Polynesian Islands is not equivalent to the law in its proper form; instead, they provide some safety measures in overtaking:

  • Overtake when necessary, but if you’re showing off your talent, quit now before you cause an accident.
  • You can do overtaking but be sure that you are pulling out to the left. But if you are going back to your previous lane, don’t forget to signal right.
  • Once it is done, look if you have ample space ahead from the car that has been overtaken.
  • It is not allowed to overtake once you are inside the lane. It is understandable if it is channeled into another direction.

Polynesian Islands mandated laws in driving to benefit the government and the citizens. These regulations are ways to educate their citizens and visitors to practice them. It was too structured due to the topographic description of their place. Narrow rural roads are risky, so they find an alternative to make it safer for all travelers.

They are surrounded by water, so they have limited ways to take in. So as a person, respect and follow the instructions given—no matter where you are. Always respect the place and the people around you, especially if you are in a foreign country.

Driving Etiquette in the Polynesian Islands

Proper etiquette is learned in school, and teachers teach it to every student. So, it is a no-brainer to be courteous when driving in the Polynesian Island countries. Driving etiquette is a sure-fire way to stay safe and get the warmest help from the locals. It would brighten their day, but it will warm their heart that the tourists respect and love the country they live in.

When driving abroad, proper etiquette is essential as it bridges the gap between each country’s different cultures. The locals will appreciate the effort if you choose to obey the Polynesian Islands’ rules and regulations. It also helps you avoid offending the authorities and getting arrested. It also opens doors for you to experience the country on a different level. You get other treatment as well when you learn the proper etiquette.

Car Breakdown

If you face this unfortunate moment, stay calm. You should park your vehicle to the left side if you drive in a country where they use the road’s left side to drive. If not, park your car on the right side of the road as soon as possible. Turn on the hazard lights. If it’s dark and foggy, turn on your car’s parking lights. Call the emergency hotlines provided below. Wait for the rescue and follow their instructions.

New Zealand hotlines:

  • Police: *555/111 (if your life is in immediate danger)
  • AA Road Service: *222

Solomon Islands hotlines:

  • Emergency:999
  • Fire: 988
  • Ambulance: 911
  • Search and rescue: 977

Tonga hotlines:

  • Emergency Assistance: +676911
  • Fire: +676927
  • Police: +676922

Police Stops

Take note that the policemen at Polynesia do not carry guns and are always in their proper uniform. In the case that they stop you, wait for instructions. Open your window slightly, only enough to speak. Place your hands on the steering wheel and do not seem dangerous. Be polite and smile.

Asking Directions

Asking for directions can be quite tricky when you are in a different country. You’d have to learn small phrases before going to these countries and know the landmarks and the names of the places you plan on traveling to.

When asking a local or a police officer, be polite, smile, and be specific when asking for directions. Learn the basic greetings, the language in The Polynesian Islands. If you are driving in Polynesia on the way to any resorts, be specific about the particular resort you’re going to.


If you encounter checkpoints, which you will, stay calm. Open your window slightly and wait for the officer in charge’s instructions. If they ask you for documents, give them to them immediately. Keep them where you can find them easily. Also, do not rush them because your time and their time are not the same as yours. Above all, be nice.

Driving Conditions in Polynesia

Driving can be very frustrating at times, and many factors can add to the frustrations. There is no telling how the weather and the road conditions affect the road you’re on. It is equally frustrating to encounter accidents on your way to your destination. There is no safety guarantee once you’re out on the road, and there are many contributors to road accidents.

To assess these situations you may encounter, slow down and match the traffic speed. Make sure to keep ample distance from the vehicle ahead of you. This would lessen your chances of being involved in life-threatening accidents.

Accident Statistics

Road conditions are hazardous throughout the Polynesian islands, and driving is often aimless. You should be extra vigilant when driving around Polynesia. According to a 2020 article, between 2011 and 2015, there were 12,000 crashes reported to the police, resulting in 16,000 recorded deaths and injuries.

Common Vehicles

The standard vehicles in The Polynesian Islands vary in the country you are in. Let’s take a look at some of the most common cars in the six countries in Polynesia.

  • According to an article in 2019, the most popular vehicles in New Zealand are SUVs, Utes (or utility vehicles, the ones with tonneau behind the passenger compartment), and classic passenger cars. The Ford Ranger has been sold to 9,485 people in just 2019 alone.
  • According to a website called Japanesecartrade.com, people from the Solomon Islands prefer to buy used Japanese cars. Just in 2014, used vehicles that were sold were 973.
  • The kingdom of Tonga has the smallest vehicle market in the world. They sell minimal units every year, their annual sales only coming up to around 50 pieces.
  • Tuvalu is a small island; you’d have to rent a bike or take a stroll to get around. The road measures up to 5 miles long.
  • The most common vehicles in Vanuatu are 4WD vehicles, vans, and minibusses.
  • Samoa’s most common vehicle is the Toyota Landcruiser, as it remained #1 in 2019.

The terrains in the Polynesian Islands are all almost the same. Some islands and countries are not that developed yet, so expect the roads to be not like the more developed countries. This is why the most common vehicles are big cars and 4-wheel drive vehicles because the streets are difficult to drive in.

Road Situations

The roads in The Polynesian Islands are not that well-developed. Some countries and islands are too small to drive in, so bikes are their transportation of choice. Usually, they use SUVs because of some terrains that regular cars struggle with.

In New Zealand, roads are often narrow, hilly, and windy, with many sharp corners. Most of the streets are single lanes without barriers in between. You will also encounter gravel roads. You must allow a lot of headspace between you and the car ahead of you. Be extremely cautious on the streets.

As for the Solomon Islands, the proper roads are found in Honiara. But even there, the Solomon Islands and Samoa roads are poorly constructed. Take care when driving around the island to avoid trespassing in communal lands. The streets are filled with potholes and uneven paths, and you would have to take extra care when driving in Polynesia.

Driving Culture

Polynesia, despite having a Pacific-Malayan race, has a somewhat European culture mixed in. Driving is no exception from the culture borrowed from the Westerners. Countries within the islands have all adopted a western driving scheme. Partly of the reason is because of the imposed UN road and safety regulations.

The rules imposed on their locals are similar and practical as many of the countries in the world. It's also safe to say that you can see much of their practices and cultures, as a nation, in their driving rules as well.

The terrain also helped shape the driving culture within Polynesia. Most of the time, drivers within Polynesia don't slow down because it's the enforced speed. They slow down because they know the risks of speeding up in this uneven terrain. Some roads wind up around the mountains. But the dangers of falling out of this dangerous road do not stop drivers from speeding.

Other Tips

Here are some additional facts that were not mentioned above while driving in Polynesian Islands. Remember these tips when driving in Polynesia.

Is Driving in New Zealand Difficult?

Driving in New Zealand may be quite challenging to new drivers because of its terrain, especially during winter. However, if you’re used to driving in terrains similar to that of New Zealand’s, you might find driving in the country exciting. Here are some tips you’ll find:

  • Drive on the left side of the road
  • Roundabouts are everywhere
  • Watch out for one-lane bridges.
  • Know the speed limit
  • Wear your seatbelt
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Don’t use your phones when you’re driving!
  • Rent a GPS and expect the driving to take longer than what the GPS says
  • Be courteous.

How Dangerous Is It in Samoa?

Samoa’s crime rate is low. They do, however, have issues with house break-ins, but it is not a concern of travelers. It pays to be cautious whenever you’re in another country since there will be common offenses that may be unusual in your home country. Exercise caution in Samoa just like in other countries.

Is Hitching Allowed in Polynesia?

Hitching is a widely accepted – and generally safe – way to get around French Polynesia's islands. Hitching is never totally safe; of course, hitch at your own risk. Although hitching can save you time to wait for a ride, you can also meet some interesting locals. Always take the necessary precautions and use your judgment before offering a hitch or jumping into a car. That’s why it is highly recommended to rent a car so you don’t have to worry about your transportation.

Things to Do in Polynesia

It is fun and exciting to drive and roam around Polynesia as a tourist. But do you consider yourself working in the country as a driver? Although this is a rare scenario, there are still chances for you. You need to consider the employment and residence requirements you need to comply with and job vacancies in the country.

Drive as a Tourist

Being a tourist in the place does not give you any privileges. Like the locals who live in the area, the country’s rules and laws will not excuse anyone. These rules affect you in every aspect, even your driving status. First, most tourists move around the country through public transportation means. But when they don't, they resort to renting cars, which is most available in Polynesia.

Rentals are more available in Polynesia than public transport. It is also expected that car rentals within Polynesia package drivers to the rented cars. This is on the assumption that you, as a tourist, can't drive a wheel. If you have a license and can go, you also have the option to cut your expense by availing of the car only. To drive inside Polynesia, tourists first need to have a license in their own native country.

An IDP is a necessity in Polynesia because the natives speak in French. You need to translate your license to the local enforcers. From there, you are within the bounds of Polynesian laws, and you need to follow such. You need to follow every rule like any natives of the countries do. Since Polynesia is also a group of different nations, driving laws vary. You should then familiarize the driving rules per country before driving.

Work as a Driver

Driving jobs within the Polynesian islands is rare. But it does not mean it's completely void of any driving-related jobs. It's honest to say that all means to move around the islands are difficult. And that is quite evident from the distance of the islands this country has. Despite that, you can still see a transport system.

Foreigners in Polynesia who wish to work as a driver are subject to authorization of employment. In some cases, they are also subject to visa requirements. You can apply to French Polynesia and Tahiti since these two have a big transport industry. The Tahiti government subsidizes the public transport industry to ensure adequate compensation is given to the drivers.

Within the Polynesian lands is New Zealand, where land is abundant. This gives drivers ample amount of opportunity to earn their pays. Driving jobs in New Zealand do not limit itself to mere car rentals. Instead, workers can gain from being truck drivers, taxi drivers, and even bus drivers. You can even be a family driver of a wealthy family if opportunities permit you!

Work as a Travel Guide

Working as a travel guide is fun. You can earn a living and at the same time feed yourself with enjoyment. One of the opportunities the Polynesian Islands can give you is to be a travel guide. For you to become a certified travel guide, you need to undergo the following :

  • Training – one of the stepping stones for becoming a travel guide is to have training. There are vocational courses that offer skills and the basic principles of this work. You need to get first a certification that proves you are qualified.
  • Familiarizing – an individual will not altogether be called a travel guide if he/she is not familiar with the places they are going. You need to widen your knowledge to every place you go, especially the direction. There is a time when tourists happen to ask questions like what makes that place different, what to do when you get there, and what are the foods they should try. It is a big embarrassment for you if you can’t even give them a proper explanation.
  • Socializing – when you’re committed to this kind of work, you should learn how to interact with the people around you, mostly tourists. Be nice to them. If possible, assist them even in a simple way. Try to study their behavior, so it won’t be hard for you to cope with them.

You must guide and give relaxation to the tourist. It is necessary to learn the historical background of the places you visit. You can provide fun-facts about the sites for a more enjoyable trip. It may be tedious, but you’ll realize that it is priceless when you see their smile and happiness. Everything you’ve done is appreciated.

Apply for Residency

You can apply for residency in the Polynesian Islands! But you have to pass a few of their requirements first. First, you have to be at least 18 years of age and have lived in Polynesia continuously for five years. You must not have been convicted of any criminal offense in Polynesia or abroad. And you must meet the mandatory class of Permanent Residency applied.

Top Road Destinations in Polynesia

Polynesia is one of the most popular and sought-after tourist attractions in the world. It has 118 islands over 6,400 square kilometers of ocean. It's an enormous, remote area offering rising sedimentary peaks, coarse hillsides, and emerald wetlands, providing some of the Pacific Islands’ most breathtaking views.

There you can see picturesque bungalows on stilts over blue lagoons. It is truly a tropical paradise. Some islets are more popular than others; here are some that you might want to visit. You will need to have your International Driver’s Permit when driving around Polynesia.

Bora Bora photo

Bora Bora

The most sought-after romantic destination, Bora Bora, is the perfect place to be. Dubbed as the “beauty queen of the South Pacific,” its beaches and the lagoons are its gowns. From afar, you will see the beautiful peaks of Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia stick out from the sea, resembling a crown. The best time to travel there in April and November.

Driving Directions:

You can reach Bora Bora by taking a plane from Faa’a International airport going to Motu Mute Airport.

  1. From Bora Bora Airport, you can take a ferry or a motorboat to take you to the different destinations in Bora Bora.
  2. You can reach Mount Otemanu Cave by heading northwest via unnamed roads. Turn left when you reach 160 m, keep on driving for about a 4.8 km ride and then turn right, and you will get to your destination.

Things to Do

This beautiful island offers both land and sea adventures. You can try the following activities and add more to have a fun-filled experience.

  1. Take a Bora Bora 4WD Tour.

    You can drive around the island and enjoy the place. You can check out several destinations to enjoy the view of the blue ocean. Learn the Polynesian culture and watch the local artists as they tie-dye sarong and oil from coconut.
  2. Go for a snorkel adventure.

    If you are brave enough, you can snorkel with the sharks and rays in Bora Bora Lagoonarium and the Coral Gardens! Watch for reef sharks, stingrays, and various fish up close, either from the water or boat.
  3. Enjoy Outdoor Activities

    Even though sun and sand are synonymous with this paradise island in French Polynesia, if you are athletic enough, there is much more to enjoy here than merely lying on the beach. You can do water sport activities like jet ski and surfboard on this South Pacific Island, from Bora Bora Lagoon cruises to indoor safari tours.
Moorea photo


With its volcanic origin, Moorea holds a promising landscape. It is one of the most visited islands of Polynesia. With its white sandy beaches and a vast number of valleys, this place is unique. Explore the beautiful destinations in the area by car. Search for the Google Map directions on the web to help you in driving in Polynesia map.

Driving Directions:

  1. You can take a plane to fly you to Moorea. From Aéroport de Moorea Temae, head north, turn right, and turn left to Lagoonarium de Moorea.
  2. From there, head northeast, turn left, turn right and turn left again to bring you to Belvedere Lookout.
  3. To reach the Moorea Beach Lodge, head north, then turn right and continue onto Route du Belvédère.

Things to Do

If you are looking for an adventure with marine life everywhere you go, Moorea is the place to be. It is surrounded by barrier reefs, which attracts many tourists. You can go diving in this beautiful spot.

  1. Join an Island Tour.

    Have a full-day tour on the island and discover the top views that will guarantee you a view you have never seen before. Get the chance to explore the Magic Mountain and Belvedere Lookout, Polynesian temples, and pineapple fields.
  2. Take a Lagoon Tour.

    The lagoon at French Polynesia’s Moorea boasts crystal-like waters that are home to different marine living things. You can see the local flora and fauna on the hidden coves of the island. You can look through the bluest waters over the beautiful corals under the sea.
  3. Enjoy Shark Exploration.

    If you are brave enough, you can join a tiger shark tour. Join the tour guides as they introduce you to vast species of sharks in the diving area. Explore the different diving areas that house many sharks with up to six species. You can see tiger sharks, lemon sharks, nurse sharks, gray reef sharks, white tip reef sharks, and blacktip reef sharks.
Tahiti Photo


Tahiti is France's largest island in Polynesia. To get an insight into Polynesia culture, try visiting the Museum of Tahiti and its Islands. Le Merche is also where you can sample local cuisine and collect souvenirs. You have to look for a website to help you drive in Polynesia map to get the right directions.

Driving Directions:

  1. You can take a plane to fly you to Tahiti.
  2. If you wish to visit the tomb of King Pomare V, from Tahiti Airport Motel Drive from Boulevard de la Reine Pōmare IV, Ave du Prince Hīnoi and Avenue du Général de Gaulle to Arue.
  3. Turn right before reaching a roundabout and you can find the destination.

Things to Do

There are lots of things to do in this country to let you explore the hidden beauty of the Museum. Try the different activities listed below for an incredible experience.

  1. Visit the tomb of King Pomare V.

    Tahiti is the home of the last king’s remains (ruler of 1839–1891), built from coral stone. He gave the islands over to the French and sadly died a decade later of alcoholism. His predecessors’ tombs (I, II, III, and IV) and his mother, originally for which his grave was built, are located on a close neighboring cemetery.
  2. Visit the Huahine Natural Aquarium

    This natural aquarium on the island of Huahine offers travelers the opportunity to learn about and watch Tahiti’s marine life in a secure and fun setting. You can see from an observation platform, but the best way to see what it is like is going down to the lagoon underwater. The lagoon waters are not very low, and there is a guide to always look into you.
  3. Take a Pearl Farm Visit.

    Tahiti's pearls are renowned worldwide, and pearling is now a significant island industry. Often thought to be black pearls, the Tahitian pearls are distinctive colors, from gray to dark green. Visit the pearl farms to learn about the history, cultivation, and color of this beautiful gem. The Robert Wan Pearl Museum is also available, as the only world black pearl museum is dedicated.
Rarotonga Photo

Rarotonga, Cook Islands

This Island is another romantic destination for you and your loved one. It is a secluded spot in the Cook Islands that promises the most breath-taking view. Its beaches, like the Muri Beach, are well known, and they offer beachfront amenities.

Driving Directions:

  1. From Rarotonga Airport, head east on Ara Tapu toward Airport Rd.
  2. Continue onto Te Ara Maire Nui, turn slightly left to take Ara Tapu.
  3. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Takuvaine Rd.
  4. Turn right onto Ara Metua.
  5. Turn left onto Happy Valley Rd until you reach your destination.

Things to Do

Swimming and exploring this fantastic island is the top activity you can do in this spot. Views and sight-seeing are also a form of unwinding in this area.

  1. Visit Punanga Nui Market.T

    he local market that takes place every Saturday is a real experience. You can walk between the stands of local food and homemade products. You can see the local people's arts and crafts and enjoy the traditional dances organized for their visitors. The food is exotic and spicy.
  2. Walk across the island.

    If you love the mountains, there is a pleasant walk across the island, which leads you through the green jungle. It takes approximately four hours to walk, and you go through the tremendous rocky peaks that are called Needle. Stop to enjoy the lovely view of the shoreline of the island and all beaches.
  3. Go snorkeling in Cook's islands.

    Cook's islands are ideal for snorkeling so that you can rent your equipment with local sellers right on the beach. The celestial blue, warm, clear sea will impress you through the many-colored coral reefs and fish that are not afraid or shy.

Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Freetown

The smallest self-governing island off New Zealand, Niue is known for its extensively raised coral atolls globally. The meaning of Niue, quite literally, is “behold the coconut.” Niue is home to a subcategory of the Polynesian culture whose language is dissolved by the western culture. They hold a holiday called Peniamina Day or The Gospel Day in October.

Driving Directions:

  1. From Auckland Airport, New Zealand, you can take a ship to go to Niue.
  2. From Hanan Niue International Airport, you can drive your car to explore Niue island.
  3. You can take Tapeu-Porritt Rd to go to Tautu Beach.
  4. Turn left to take the road to Alofi.
  5. Continue until you reach an intersection and turn right onto Alofi-Liku Rd.
  6. Continue driving until you reach Tautu Beach.

Things to Do

If you love marine animals, you can also snorkel on the beaches. There are also a lot of things to do aside from sea adventures.

  1. See the whales.

    You can see bumpy whales from July to October before returning to Antarctica to give birth and care. In Niue, the ocean is deep near the sea, so the whales come to see the coastal cliffs, and they can be easily pictured. If you feel adventurous, book a tour of whale watching that will take you ever closer to those majestic sea giants.
  2. Come to Alofi's Vaiolama Café.

    The Café serves simple meals, smoothies, cakes, coffee, and views on the sea. If you love to play golf, they have 18 mini-golf holes to practice your skills. This course winds through shady tropical gardens along the cliffs. For all ages, it's great fun, and there is also a bar you can have around if you've got a hole.
  3. Explore the giant crabs.

    Niue's rainforests and plantations house large crabs named Uga (UNGA). These fascinating prehistoric animals have vibrant blue and orange shells. Many local operators are offering guided rainforest visits, including the opportunity to closely watch the Uga and learn about the way of life. One of the most exciting activities for children is meeting giant crabs.

Driving in Polynesia resorts is a fun-filled adventure. You can go to different resorts and beaches to explore the beauty of nature. Traveling with your loved ones is necessary to unwind and relax. The Polynesian Islands consist of many destinations you can choose from. If you plan to take a tour of one of its scenic destinations, always carry your International Driver’s Permit with you.

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