Driving is driving, right? Once you get the basic hang of it and a couple years of experience it's pretty easy, isn't it? Well not always. For those travelers from the United States or other nations where driving takes place on the right side of the highway, driving in New Zealand for the first time can really throw you off. Remember that once you get your campervan hire to get used to the rules of driving in New Zealand on some easy roads before getting out for your walkabout adventure.
Take a look at the following tips to help you drive safely and effectively during your NZ trip.
Tip #1: Practice on Low Traffic Roads
While remembering to drive on the left side of the road instead of the right isn't that hard to get used to because the steering wheel is on the opposite side, you will still want to get used to driving consciously and not falling back on years of instinct driving the other way. This makes a difference in so many ways you don't realize until you're out and about.
Tip #2: Remember to Watch the Right
If you're used to driving on the right then you're used to just giving a basic glance to the right but really paying attention to the left since that's where the danger is with not seeing a car coming your way. When the direction switches, the right side is actually the direction that then becomes more dangerous. You will need to fight the instinct to stare left and just glance right, since in New Zealand the right side is where the danger comes from.
Tip #3: Get Used to Roundabouts
Some drivers are used to driving through roundabouts while others are not. However if you are going to make your way through the country you will need to get used to how they work. There are roundabouts throughout the country especially at larger towns and cities, so make sure to brush up on right of way and you'll be much more confident in moving on through to your next destination.
Tip #4: Give Ways Are Different to Stop Signs
There are very few pure stop signs. There are many "Give Way" signs. These work like yield signs. Take a look to the right to make sure no one is coming your way, and if it is clear go on through. Native New Zealanders will pick you out as a tourist if you stop at these signs before looking both ways, but better safe than sorry…and always look to the right.
Tip #5: Your Turn Signal Is on the Right
Chances are you are likely used to having your turn signal on the left hand side. In these cars built for driving on the left, you will have your turn signal on the right. If your windshield wipers suddenly turn on then you know you hit the wrong switch…again. Aside from obviously marking yourself as a tourist, switch over to the right to get the blinker on, accept you will probably make this mistake multiple times, and move on from there.
Follow these five tips and you will find it much easier to drive throughout New Zealand without issue.