New Zealand is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world - for good reason. This isn’t a large country but it is a nation that manages to pack an immense amount of unique experiences and glorious vistas into its relatively diminutive frame. What this means for travellers is that you don’t have to travel far to experience a stunning array of landscapes and cultural gems. Driving from beach to mountain to rolling fields and on to bubbling mud pools and sulphurous geysers can all be done in one day - although smart road trippers will set aside plenty of time to delve into the many secrets that New Zealand holds.
Getting around New Zealand isn’t difficult but you will need some wheels to carry you to all the different attractions that this country has in store for you. Finding the ideal New Zealand car hire for your trip isn’t as tricky as you might think. AirportRentals.com allows you to compare deals from the most trusted car rental companies so you can discover the car that’s perfect for you without having to visit a bunch of different websites, and be guaranteed the cheapest rate. Thanks to the excellent relationships that AirportRentals.com has developed with New Zealand car rental suppliers over the years, they can offer fantastic prices on a huge range of different models and brands. From zippy economy models to sturdy SUVs and elegant luxury cars, AirportRentals.com is sure to have just what you’re looking for at a price you’ll love.
Unsure where to go in New Zealand or just looking for a little more info on the cities you’ll be visiting? Take a look below to find more about New Zealand’s top destinations.
A Christchurch Airport Car Hire will put you within a day’s journey of almost any destination in New Zealand’s South Island, making this a brilliant place to start your trip. Whether you choose to strike north for the whales in Kaikoura and the vineyards of Marlborough or head south to discover the adventure activities of Queenstown and the picture perfect scenery of Milford Sound, Christchurch is centrally located enough to give you plenty of options. It’s more than just a launching pad though - it has many attractions in its own right, and any traveller starting from Christchurch should set aside at least a day or two to enjoy this beautiful city.
AucklandArriving in New Zealand’s largest city gives you numerous different travel options. With an Auckland Airport car hire you can be at the remote beaches of the Coromandel, the geysers of Rotorua or the snow covered slopes of Mount Ruapehu within a matter of hours. If you’re keen to sample some urban attractions before you set out, Auckland is more than happy to oblige. The Wynyard Quarter is a waterfront district with excellent restaurants, vibrant nightlife and an exciting ‘happening’ vibe, downtown Kingsland provides a more low key, hip experience and Mount Eden Village is famed for its cafe culture.
WellingtonWellington isn’t just the political capital of New Zealand, it’s also the cultural capital of the nation. This city is a hub for music, theatre, art and fine cuisine. The centre of the city is easy to navigate by foot but if you’re looking to venture further afield then you’ll need to pick up a Wellington Airport car rental. You can hop across the Cook Strait to the South Island via ferry, taste your way around Wairarapa’s vineyards (with a sober driver, of course) or climb into the clouds at Mount Taranaki. A longer trip north could even take you as far as Lake Taupo, the country’s largest inland body of water and a great spot for anglers and adventurers alike.
QueenstownThis South Island town has achieved something of a legendary status among thrillseekers, garnering the title of Adventure Capital of the World thanks to its numerous opportunities for extreme activities like skydiving, bungy jumping and whitewater rafting. Even if you’re not an adrenaline junkie, Queenstown still stands up as a tourism paradise with its picture perfect vistas, pumping nightlife and top notch restaurants. Picking up a car rental in Queenstown allows you to discover the gorgeous locations around this town, which include the former gold mining settlement of Cromwell (where you can still pan for gold in the river) and Milford Sound, one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
NelsonSet right at the top end of the South Island, Nelson offers a very different experience to the typical “snowy mountains, chilly weather” South Island environments. In fact, Nelson is renowned for its perennially sunny weather and warm climate which means that trips to the beach and tours around the vines are most definitely on the cards for Nelson visitors. Booking a car rental in Nelson gives you the chance to go a little further afield - head to the secluded sands of Golden Bay to discover the perfect summer vacation spot, embark on the Abel Tasman Track for one of the finest coastal walks in the world or make for the wild West Coast. You could even hop across to the North Island with your Nelson car hire, as Nelson is less than two hours from the ferry terminus at Picton.
Quick guide to New Zealand road rulesNew Zealand has fairly well maintained roads, though they can be winding and narrower than what some international visitors are used to. There are a few things that you will need to remember in order to keep safe on NZ roads:
- Everyone drives on the left hand side of the road, and all cars will have the steering wheel on the right hand side. This is different to most of the rest of the world, so make sure you keep this in mind especially when turning and at intersections.
- A solid yellow centre line means that overtaking is not permitted, while a dashed yellow line on the left edge of the road means that parking there is not allowed.
- Roundabouts (also known as turning circles) are a major feature on New Zealand roads, replacing traffic lights at many intersections. The key to successfully navigating a roundabout is to remember to always drive clockwise and give way to traffic coming from your right. Just before you exit the roundabout, indicate to the left to signal that you’re about to turn off.
- Handheld operation of a mobile phone (whether for calls or texting) isn’t permitted while you’re at the wheel of a vehicle, even if you’re stopped at a traffic light.
- Speed limits are posted in kilometres per hour and any car rental you book in New Zealand will have a speedometer which is also in kph. The usual speed limit in urban areas is 50 kph, while on motorways or the open road, the limit is usually 100 kph.
Tips for driving in New Zealand
- Make sure you set aside enough time to get from place to place. Distances aren’t huge but you may need to travel more slowly than you expect. Due to the winding nature of New Zealand’s roads (State Highways included), you’ll need to account for an average speed that’s substantially less than the maximum 100 kph - plan for 70-80 kph and you should be fine.
- Keep an eye out for livestock crossing in rural areas. Farmers will often move herds of sheep or cows across the rural roads, requiring drivers to wait until the animals have passed. There should be a sign warning you that animals are crossing the road - make sure to come to a stop a safe distance away and wait until all livestock has crossed.
- Many smaller roads in New Zealand use unsealed gravel which can cause reduced visibility due to dust, and chips in the paint or windscreen of your vehicle if you travel too fast. Your New Zealand car hire may not be allowed on some of these roads, so always check with your rental supplier before you embark.
- On some corners you’ll notice yellow signs with black numbers - this is the suggested maximum speed for cars in dry weather. This is a safety suggestion, not a target, so if road conditions aren’t perfect you may want to go even slower.
- The New Zealand police don’t have much tolerance for those driving over the speed limit, but they can be particularly strict during long weekends when car accidents are more likely - travelling a few kilometres per hour under the speed limit will ensure that you never have to worry about this.
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