Driving in NZ
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Thread: Driving in NZ

  1. #1
    Fellow Frogger!
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    Default Driving in NZ

    I'm going to be in NZ South Island for a week and am interested in helpful info - especially from NZ members - on driving there.

    Of most interest are:
    - Speed limits, enforcement, tolerance given and speed cameras. I'm not planning to be a hoon but it's still good to know what the score is.
    - Local laws to respect ... e.g. do you have 'school zones' or school bus regulations, etc.
    - Local peculiarities or driving 'customs' that it would help to know ... you know the kind of stuff, e.g. in some places a falsh of lights means "after you" and in others it means "get out of my way".

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    Cheers, Jon
    unfrogged (for now)

  2. #2
    Fellow Frogger! 206 RC's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 106 Rallye
    I'm going to be in NZ South Island for a week and am interested in helpful info - especially from NZ members - on driving there.

    Of most interest are:
    - Speed limits, enforcement, tolerance given and speed cameras. I'm not planning to be a hoon but it's still good to know what the score is.
    - Local laws to respect ... e.g. do you have 'school zones' or school bus regulations, etc.
    - Local peculiarities or driving 'customs' that it would help to know ... you know the kind of stuff, e.g. in some places a falsh of lights means "after you" and in others it means "get out of my way".

    Cheers, Jon
    Search and ye shall find..
    http://www.ltsa.govt.nz/roadcode/contents.html
    Clint

    Obsidian Black 206 RC (2004)
    Ferodo DS2500 Racing Pads
    Green Cotton Dynatwist Induction Kit
    OZ Superturismo WRC 16" wheels

  3. #3
    BVH Roger Wilkinson's Avatar
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    Default

    I lived near Christchurch for several years. Haven't lived there for the best part of 5 years but drove the length of the country 3 months ago and refreshed my memory.

    Road rules are mostly the same as ours. Differences:

    50 km/h limit in built-up areas.

    Go really slow past a stationary school bus. 20 or 30 km/h if I recall.

    A solid white line across the road means give way, a solid yellow line means stop.

    A solid yellow line in the middle of the road means don't cross it (like our solid white lines).

    Right turning vehicle has priority. So if two cars are facing each other and one is turning right and the other is turning left, into each other's paths, the right turning one goes first. This is like Victoria used to be.

    Give way to the right. Even at a T intersection. So if a T is not signposted with give way or stop anywhere, and a car is on the stem turning right and another car is on their left going straight through, into each other's paths, the one turning right from the stem goes first, even though the other one is going straight! This took me a lot of getting used to.

    You are encouraged to drive on a painted median strip if turning right.

    Other tips:

    Watch out for one lane bridges. They are everywhere. The blue and white sign with a wide arrow means you go first, the black and red sign with a narrow arrow means you give way. Some of them are so long there is a double lane bit in the middle where 2 cars can pass.

    Road edge markings are far superior to ours. White marker posts are all flexible. Reflectors on them indicate whether the road goes straight ahead, turns left, or turns right. White cat's eyes in middle of road get closer together when you approach a yellow line where overtaking is banned, then change to yellow when you hit the yellow line.

    There are very few distance markers.

    The AA maps are the best. Or pathfinders.

    The north island has 3 times as many people (and cars) than the south island, and it is hillier. So driving is harder. The south island has big wide roads that are often pretty empty. People tend to drive faster, often faster than the speed limit. But you have to be sensitive to context, the busier the road the fewer km/h over the speed limit you would go. I used to drive at 110 or 120 down roads like state highway 1 (main east coast road) but 130 or 140 through the Mackenzie country in the empty middle of the south island.

    Speed camera areas are not marked any more. The camera cars look pretty much the same as ours. There are some fixed ones on poles, but there are more poles than cameras. Speed cameras are set at the 85% mark, not a fixed speed. They are designed to catch the fastest 15% of drivers. One time I was on statte highway 8 (main road through the middle of the south island and relatively empty). Driving past the Mt Cook turnoff I saw a speed camera area sign so slowed down a bit. Then I saw the speed camera car (white Camry wagon) and slowed down a bit more. I was probably doing 120 when I went past it. No flash. No ticket. Generally on that road, if ytou go 120 you get overtaken by lots of cars. Now that was a few years back, I probably wouldn't drive quite like that now anyway, but many's the time I did fast trips around the south island in my DS.

    Roger

  4. #4
    Fellow Frogger! chris's Avatar
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    You may find you encounter some things... word escapes me... like a road but kind of not straight... ummm... Aussies seem to have trouble with them, anyway, but I'm sure you'll cope

    Beware the hidden speed cameras. Open road speed limits are lower, but people are less afraid to actually put their foot down in passing lanes (less brainwashed, perhaps). If you see a white Falcadore it's probably a cop, not a taxi!

    Watch out for ice in the high country

    The South Island is beautiful, enjoy.

    Chris
    GS 1220 break. Beige cars go faster

  5. #5
    Fellow Frogger!
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    You guys have summed things up pretty well.

    The Sound Island is definitely the better driving location. As far as open road speed goes, you can get a feel as to how fast you can go by how busy it is. A main highway with a reasonable ammount of traffic probably isn't the best place to speed. But if you get onto a relatively empty bit of highway, particularly a non-main route, then you can maintain a pretty good pace.

    Avoid going over 150km/h as you lose your license immediately when you are 50km/h over the limit.

    To be honest I don't feel that comfortable travelling over 130km/h in most parts of New Zealand as the risk of being caught is too high in my opinion. Having said that, there are many parts of the South Island where you can safely maintain 120-130km/h.

    Roger has covered our road rules pretty well. If you see a red Mitsubishi L300 van parked on the side of the road, there's a good chance it's a speed camera vehicle.

    Try to be quite vigilant in your indicating around round-abouts .

    Have fun, driving on the open road in New Zealand is great!

  6. #6
    Fellow Frogger!
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    Many thanks - sounds great, especially those weird non-straight bits!
    unfrogged (for now)

  7. #7
    Tadpole
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    If you're going to be driving in/around the South Island you have to totally, totally, totally should take the time and drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound, the scenery will blow your mind! Besides the scenery it's also a great drivers road with plenty of tight, twisty bits to keep the heart rate up. Enjoy!!

    cheers

    Richard

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