Driving in New Zealand, in a campervan, may be very different from what you are used to.
We drive on the left-hand side of the road here, some of our roads are narrow, windy and have loose gravel… and it’s not unusual to see sheep or cattle on roads in rural areas.
You need to give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination and to understand New Zealand road rules and signs.
Even if you have driven in other countries, it’s important to understand our rules before you get behind the wheel here.
Why do certain countries drive on the left-hand side of the road
Well, it’s one of those trivia questions that can really nag at you until you find an answer. Old logic dictated that when people passed each other on the road they should be in the best possible position to use their sword to protect themselves. As most people are right-handed they, therefore, keep to their left. This practice was formalized in a Papal Edict by Pope Benefice around 1300AD who told all his pilgrims to keep to the left.
Make sure you protect yourself, know the rules before you start driving in NZ!
Driver fatigue, or tiredness, is one of the top three contributors to the road toll. Research has shown that fatigue can be as dangerous as other road safety issues, such as drink driving. But unlike drink driving, there are no laws regulating driver fatigue…
You will be travelling by motorhome, we strongly advise you not plan to drive long distances immediately after arriving from a long-haul flight. Instead, stay in the same city for your first day/night of travel, or make use of our unique service: Get collected and stay at Baystay B&B when arriving at Auckland Airport (conditions apply)
You may be suffering from driver fatigue if you:
- have recently undertaken long-distance air travel
- have trouble focusing, keeping your eyes open or holding your head up
- are daydreaming, having wandering or disconnected thoughts, loss of memory
- are yawning or rubbing your eyes repeatedly
- are drifting from your lane, tailgating, and missing signs or exits
are feeling restless and irritable
Why driving while fatigued is dangerous
- your reactions are much slower
- your ability to concentrate is reduced
- your judgment of risk is reduced
- it takes longer to interpret and understand the traffic situation
Tips to help you avoid driver fatigue:
- get a good night’s sleep before driving, preferably eight hours
- avoid driving during the hours when you would normally be sleeping. For most people, this will be between 10 pm and 6 am
- if you normally have a mid-afternoon nap, then you should avoid driving at that time
- make sure you are fully awake before driving following a period of sleep
- share the driving when possible
- don’t drink even small amounts of alcohol. It will make the effects of fatigue much worse
- when taking long trips, plan your journey to include rest breaks
- ensure you get plenty of fresh air
- snack on light, fresh foods. Avoid consuming fatty, sugary or carbohydrate-filled foods, which can make you feel tired
- if possible, avoid driving for several days following long-distance air travel. Jet-lag can creep up on you and you may not even feel tired
- take a friend with you on your travel who will help you stay awake.
Make sure you remember New Zealand for the right reasons!
Times and distances in New Zealand are often misjudged. Highways (except around a few cities) are comparable to 80Km roads in Europe or Australia. OK, you are allowed to drive 100 km per hour but whether this is always possible and safe? Use an average of 60 kilometres per hour if you travel a certain distance to calculate.
In other words, travel distances in New Zealand will be calculated in hours and less in the distance travelled. Mountains, mostly two-lane windy roads prevent you a quick ride from A to B.
It’s your holiday! Take your time and enjoy the ride itself! The road trip is part of your holiday. Stop by that great “lookout”, make a good cup of coffee (advantage of travelling by Campervan) take the chairs from the “trunk” and thoroughly enjoy the surroundings. With a little luck, you have the view all to yourself.
We recommend you stay 2 or more days in places to experience the lifestyle or that little village. It is not about how much you drive during your vacation. It is all about the experience, isn’t it?
Know the driving time of your planned distances, calculate travel times within New Zealand: Click here
Remember to add extra time to take in the lifestyle or to enjoy a coffee stop! The road trip is part of the journey…