NZ cars are in right-hand drive configuration, similar to Singapore. Steering wheel’s on the right, and traffic moves on the left. Phew, that’s one problem out of the bag. Car rental companies in NZ accepts Singapore driving licenses. That alleviates another headache. We reserved ours at Hertz, but there are quite a few other companies including Avis, Budget, Europcar and Jucy (their cars look like little Barneys – cute).
Here are some key considerations that I’ve learn during this travel. Hope this list helps you!
New Zealanders have a real obsession with roundabouts, instead of relying on traffic light controlled junctions. Roundabouts are everywhere, in towns and linking state highways (abbreviated as ‘SHx’ with ‘x’ being the highway number). In Singapore, there is hardly any. Roundabouts are already dangerous because of the multiple entrances and exits. Add zebra and train crossings and you’ll definitely need (want) to keep your eyes peeled. One more thing to note: The roundabouts do not have kerbs. You can miss them and drive straight over them. Be careful.
Along state highways, there are ‘lookouts’ (for great photos) and ‘recreation areas’ (white text on brown signs), and unlabelled gravel lined road shoulders. You can also stop by small towns along the way or visit one of NZ’s beautiful lakes. As always, do stop only when it’s safe and have a good rest before driving as driving between major towns can take hours. If you need some coffee or to use a restroom, look out for the self explanatory blue signs. Some images below for your reference.
Varying speed limits
You can travel 100km/h along NZ’s state highways, but you would not do it all the time. Firstly, the views are magnificent. No need to rush. Secondly, windy or narrow roads come with lower speed limits – drops to 20+ km/h at certain locations. Thirdly, as mountains are ever-moving, road works are not uncommon. These works demand you drive along at 30 km/h. Drive too fast and the workers will signal you to slow down. Fourthly, the speed limit in and around towns are at 50 km/h or slower especially in school zones. Pay attention to them signs.
Pay attention to the road signs
You can call 0800 444449 to enquire about current road conditions. We did that and got the all-clear (with the usual be safe while driving) before making our way up and down the steep and winding Crown Range Road.
Some major brands include Caltex and Mobil. Fuel prices vary widely. The sole pump at Franz Josef charges $2.499/ litre, while pumps at Greymouth charge about $2.149, a whooping 30 cents difference. If you are going to drive quite a bit, get the AA Smartfuel discount card. You can save about 6 cents/litre just by swiping the card at participating pumps (so far, Caltex and bp). Registration is free. When we were there, a minimum spend at certain supermarkets got us significant fuel discounts as a promotion. We got 10 cents off per litre at Z’s pump when we bought groceries at a Countdown supermarket.
Hertz cars require Octane 91 fuel.
For more tips, please click here to visit the 100% Pure New Zealand website. If you have any other tip to share, feel free to comment on this post.
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