New Zealand – Driving Licences

If you have an overseas driver licence or an international driver licence you can drive in New Zealand for a maximum of one year. After this time you must apply for a conversion to a New Zealand licence. This can involve a theory examination. A practical test is also required to obtain a conversion to a New Zealand driver licence for certain countries.

Citizens from certain countries may apply for an exemption from the practical test and theory test but anyone not exempt must sit a full New Zealand licence examination.

If you don’t apply for a New Zealand driver’s licence within one year of arriving in this country you will become an unlicensed driver and could be prosecuted by the Police if you are caught driving. Additionally, being unlicensed could affect your ability to get car insurance.

A copy of the New Zealand Road Code is available from most bookshops and outlines all road rules, which apply when driving in New Zealand. The minimum driving age is 15 years old at which time a graduated system for obtaining a licence is imposed on learner drivers to ensure they are protected from high risk situations until they have obtained experience on the road in normal conditions.

There are strict laws in place to prevent people from driving while intoxicated. If you are caught drink driving it can prevent your ability to remain in New Zealand. To a lesser extent, excessive speeding fines can also affect your character reference and your ability to remain in New Zealand.