If you are a ‘do it yourself’ type of tourist, then a self-drive tour of New Zealand by car is a great way to see the country. Because touring New Zealand by car is very popular, you will need to ensure that you book your rental car well in advance before you leave home. Then, upon arrival in New Zealand, you simply pick up your pre-booked rental car from your car rental company, and then start your tour.
When touring New Zealand by car, you will need to remember that you will be driving on the left-hand side of the road, and so you will need to take some time to adjust your thinking when it comes to turning right! However you will find that New Zealand road intersection rules are generally in line with international rules (except they are in reverse!) and most New Zealand drivers are fairly considerate.
Hiring a rental car in New Zealand provides you the freedom of being able to travel at your own pace, and because at most times of the year, it is generally not necessary to book New Zealand hotels or motels too far ahead, you have the ability to keep a fairly flexible travel schedule.
Having an iPad or iPhone is a great way to make your advance bookings while you are on the move, and of course having a GPS is a great navigational aid to help you find the New Zealand tourist attractions that you want to see.
New Zealand roads are generally excellent, although once you get off the main high-ways, they can be rather on the narrow side, so you will need to adjust your speed accordingly.
The New Zealand speed limit is 100 kms per hour on the open road and 50 kms per hour in towns, so when you are touring New Zealand by car, it is important to keep to the speed limit so as to avoid the speed cameras situated to ‘ping’ the unwary. Paying a fine of up to $200 on your final car rental vehicle bill is not a great way to end your New Zealand holiday! Because traffic in New Zealand is generally very light, you will very rarely experience traffic delays.
New Zealand weather conditions are generally pretty benign, and so it is highly unlikely that you will need to use snow chains during your tour. However if you are travelling in the southern part of the South Island in mid-winter, it may be advisable to ask your rental car company to provide you with chains ‘just in case’.
When touring New Zealand by car, you are best to go for the ‘unlimited mileage’ option, which means that your travel costs are fixed, apart from your fuel costs. The price of petrol is currently around $2-20 per litre, and so with most cars you can work on a fuel cost of between 15 – 20 cents per kilometre. This means that on a 21 day tour of New Zealand by car, the cost of travel is likely to be around $2,000 excluding accommodation.
New Zealand rental car companies offer a wide range of modern vehicles, and because it is a very competitive market, you are likely to secure a good car rental deal, especially if you go to an on-line portal that allows you to compare the options and prices of all the major car rental companies.