About New Zealand (NZ)
Located in Oceania, New Zealand has a unique geography—the country is broken up into two main parts, the North Island and the South Island, and also has a group of associated islands. Largely unspoiled, it offers breathtaking nature that is an unparalleled treat for nature lovers. With excellent roads and a wide network of hotels and charming bed and breakfasts, New Zealand is the perfect place to rent a car and plan the road trip of a lifetime.
On the North Island, you will find the capital Wellington and the cosmopolitan city of Auckland. Don’t miss Tongariro National Park, which offers skiing, active volcanoes and the world-famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike; the park is an important site for the Maori people. On the North Island you can also find the Bay of Islands, Rotorua, and the Lord of the Rings movie set “Hobbiton.” The South Island has equally spectacular attractions and national parks, including Fiordland National Park, Abel Tasman National Park and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.
Note that in New Zealand, you drive on the left side of the road. There are few multi-lane highways; most of the roads have two lanes, one in each direction. As the weather can change quickly, it’s important to be well-prepared and carefully study your route. The roads can vary in quality, and at some points they become quite narrow and steep. You should therefore plan on driving slowly, and count more time than you would expect to arrive at your destination.
Choosing your car
Major New Zealand car rental providers include Hertz, Avis and Enterprise. If you have several people in party, opt for a spacious mid-size car such as an SUV, or an even larger option such as a 7—12 person mini van or people mover. A compact car, from a brand such as Mitsubishi or Hyundai, is a great New Zealand cheap car rental choice for couples or solo travelers.
Tips and advice
To travel between the North and South Islands, you can take a car ferry. Be sure, however, to check with the rental company beforehand, as some companies may not allow you to take your NZ car hire on a ferry.
Note that you are not allowed to use a mobile device while driving your car rental in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s Transport Agency has an online Journey Planner, a handy tool that includes current information about road closures and up-to-date travel times.
Similarly, before arriving in New Zealand, you can read the rules of the road, as well as a booklet for overseas drivers. Both of these resources are also available on the New Zealand Transport Agency website.
If you are bringing any outdoor sports equipment, be sure to book a car rental that is spacious enough for all your gear. Ski racks and snow chains are usually readily available for car rental companies servicing the New Zealand ski resorts.
You may encounter animals, such as herds of sheep, on the roads of New Zealand. Stay alert when driving and adjust your speed if need be.