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Get Out and About by Car in Oz or NZ

Driving in Australia

To drive in Australia you will need a full driving licence. You will need to carry your licence with you at all times – there is an on the spot fine for not doing so. Australians drive on the left hand side of the road, and the speed limits are 35mph/60kmph in built up areas and 60mph/100kmph on country roads and highways.

It is compulsory to wear seatbelts front and back at all times, and the laws on drink driving are enforced very strictly. Random breath testing is common as are speed traps. Petrol costs between 90 and 120 cents per litre.

If you are planning on going off the beaten track then be sure that you have a full tank of fuel. Rural garages tend to shut earlier and may not take credit card payments. Driving is one of the best ways to see Australia, and can be an unforgettable experience. Use your common sense when heading inland and into bush areas. Make sure you have plenty of supplies, including fuel, food and enough water for you and your car. Also leave your travel itinerary with a friend – make sure someone knows where you are planning on going and when you will get to your destination.

Many hire firms operate a one-way hire service, so you can hire from Cairns and drop off in Sydney. The minimum rental age is 21. One or two companies also offer a Buyback Guarantee on cars for sale, which means you are guaranteed a fixed amount when you sell your car back at the end of your trip. But beware of dodgy operators: try to ask other travellers about their experiences with particular firms or research them online before you book.

Hitching lifts is not recommended in any country. You are potentially leaving yourself open to all kinds of dangers, and who wants to be stuck in a lorry cab with a stranger for days in the middle of nowhere anyway? If you are buying a vehicle when you arrive in Oz you will need to check the state registration requirements.

Driver fatigue is responsible for almost one fifth of fatal crashes in Australia. You should allow time for fifteen minute breaks every two hours on your journey. When you are driving long distances through countryside beware of the animals that often stray onto the road. Road kill is a common sight on the freeway, and we’re talking six-foot kangaroos jumping out in front of your van….

Driving in New Zealand

Driving in New Zealand is an option frequently taken by travellers. If you have a valid driving licence and some cash to hire or buy a vehicle, it does give you real freedom. In New Zealand you drive on the left, and the speed limits are basically 100 km per hour on main roads, and 50 km per hour in towns. Be warned that speed limits are strictly imposed and if you are caught going 50 km per hour over the speed limit you will be automatically disqualified from driving. In New Zealand seatbelts must be worn at all times, no matter where you are sitting in the car. New Zealand’s beautiful scenery means that driving conditions can be challenging, and you need to be extra careful on popular tourist routes.

The road between Te Anau and Milford Sound for example has steep hills and tight corners, along with many single-lane bridges. In high season between November and March there can be up to 80 tour buses a day travelling on this stretch of road, as well as campervans. Keep your wits about you by not driving when tired or under the influence of alcohol, and resist the temptation to rubberneck the scenery when at the wheel of a car!

Weather conditions, particularly on the South Island can be harsh in winter. Roads will be affected by snow and ice, so be prepared. Have snow-chains for your wheels at the ready, take plenty of warm clothes and some food and drink with you in case you break down and have to wait to be rescued.

Remember that there is no compulsory third party insurance in New Zealand for drivers. If you bump another car you will have to pay for it unless you have taken cover out yourself

6 Great Reasons to drive yourself!

  • If a group of 2 or 3 or more band together and share costs then it is actually the cheapest form of travel possible.
  • You can snog in the back of the car.
  • You can pull over and camp for free in many places.
  • You don’t have to pay extra for side trips, you can simply drive yourself.
  • You can play your own tunes.
  • You can stop if you see something interesting.

Travellers Autobarn can help you with all your vehicle hire requirements downunder.