Riding In New Zealand
New Zealand is still the way life used to be!
Here you'll find friendly and open people who'll
provide you with a genuinely warm welcome. Escape
the hustle and bustle of the modern world and
enjoy the tranquillity and easy pace of life
on the byways. Just you and your motorcycle
touring the quiet open road.
New Zealand is truly a beautiful country. The
scenery will simply take your breath away, especially
in the South Island. From amazing geothermal
areas, lush rain forest, snow capped mountains
and glacier carved fiords, New Zealand has one
surprise after another. No matter where you
are you'll find the next surprise just around
You'll be greeted by quiet open roads, particularly
in the South Island which is the less crowded
(and more scenically beautiful) of New Zealand's
two main islands.
New Zealand's population is approximately 4
million people, with approximately 3.1 million
in the North Island and 900,000 in the South
Combined with the uncrowded and unhurried roads,
this makes motorcycle touring in New Zealand
the ideal motorcycle holiday.
New Zealand has approximately 90,000 kilometres
(55,000 miles) of roading, both sealed and unsealed.
For your safety and comfort we have put together
some riding tips which we hope you will find
The most important thing to remember when motorcycling
in New Zealand is that we drive on the LEFT
HAND SIDE of the road. This is the same as in
the United Kingdom and Japan.
Whilst motorcycling in New Zealand it is compulsory
that the rider and pillion passenger wear a
safety helmet at all times. This is an important
safety requirement. It is also important that
you wear appropriate riding gear. This will
not only protect you against the elements (wind
etc) but also provide you with some added protection
in the event of an accident.
The maximum speed limit for the open road in
New Zealand is 100 kilometres/hour (62 miles/hour).
Drivers generally travel slightly under the
Please note that average speeds are lower and
it takes longer to travel distances in New Zealand
than might be expected. This is due to the hilly
and mountainous nature of our countryside.
Country Roads and Highways;
The main highways are normally undivided single
lane with traffic in both directions. The roads
are undulating and follow the contours of the
countryside. This is what makes motorcycling
in New Zealand so enjoyable - no dull and boring
straight roads here. But a word of warning -
be on the lookout for oncoming traffic!
Whilst the main highways are fully sealed and
well maintained, many roads have gravel verges.
Be mindful to keep clear of the verge, especially
on corners, as this could cause a riding hazard.
Some secondary isolated roads are unsealed
and use gravel as the surface. In these cases,
ride slowly. Note that there are some roads,
which are not suitable for motorcycling. We
will advise you of these at the time of pick
During the New Zealand winter and early spring,
some roads in the South Island and central North
Island may be closed because of snow and ice.
There will usually be an alternative route for
you to take.
There are also many tracks where you can experience
the thrill of 'off-road' motorcycling.
One Lane Bridges;
This seems to be unique to New Zealand, particularly
the South Island and is something that our overseas
visitors are quite unfamiliar with. On many
highways, especially those in the more mountainous
regions, you will find one-lane bridges where
traffic in both directions must share the same
lane. You will need to approach these bridges
with care and be prepared to give way (yield)
to oncoming traffic already on the bridge.
At an intersection, when turning to the left
you must give way to all traffic, including
any oncoming traffic that is turning right.
For more information, please refer to the Land
Transport Safety Authority Web site.
Note that for US and Canadian riders, you are
not allowed to turn left on a red light.
As an added thrill, you may find a couple of
road/rail bridges on the West Coast of the South
Island, where the train actually uses the same
bridge. Trains using such bridges are infrequent.
The following information will be helpful in
planning your visit to New Zealand.
Passports and Visas;
All visitors require a passport that is valid
for at least 3 months after their intended departure.
A visa is not required for most visitors travelling
to New Zealand for a stay of less than 3 months.
You should check with your local New Zealand
embassy or consulate for the latest information.
New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere,
so the seasons are the opposite to those in
the northern hemisphere. Summer is December
to February whilst winter is June to August.
Average summer temperature is 22° Celsius (72°
Fahrenheit) and winter 9° Celsius (48° Fahrenheit).
In keeping with New Zealand's relaxed lifestyle,
dress is informal on most occasions. A jacket
is recommended only for those intending to visit
a better restaurant or evening show. A waterproof
jacket and umbrella is advisable.
New Zealand Dollars (NZ$). Current exchange
rate is approximately 1USD =NZ$1.60 Please check
with your bank for current exchange rates. Travellers
cheques and most major international credit
cards are accepted.
Banking and Business Hours;
Many businesses and all banks operate only
Monday to Friday. Banking hours are 9.30am to
4.30pm Monday to Friday and are closed on public
holidays. Increasingly, stores in major cities
are extending their hours through to Saturday
and Sunday. Those stores catering largely to
visitors are open every day, often with extended
hours. Most petrol stations are open every day.
Please Note: You MUST remove your riding helmet
when entering a bank or other official/financial
office, otherwise you may cause a security issue.
All goods and services purchased in New Zealand
are subject to 12.5% Goods and Services tax.
This is usually included in the price, although
some hotels and restaurants may quote prices
Best Time to Visit New Zealand;
Summer - December through February - usually
the best weather.
Autumn/Fall - March to May - fair and settled
weather - the roads are quieter except for
the Easter period.
Winter - June to August - can be wet and
cold - roads are quiet, with beautiful crisp
air and scenery.
Spring - September to November - weather
is mixed - fresh smells and great air.
Electricity is supplied throughout New Zealand
at 240 volts via a slant 3 pin outlet (plugs
are common with Australia). If you are coming
from anywhere other than Australia, you will
need a plug adaptor. These can be purchased
before you come to New Zealand but are also
readily available from electrical supply stores.
Hotels often provide a 110 volt socket for electric
shavers only. For all other equipment, an adaptor
and a voltage converter are necessary.
Internet Cafes are widespread throughout New
Zealand. These provide email and web browsing
services at very reasonable rates.
Phone connections (for computer modems etc)
use a 6 pin plug that is common with the UK.
You will need an adaptor cable that can be purchased
from computer supply stores. Most New Zealand
ISP's have a global roaming agreement with major
There are 2 mobile phone networks, Vodafone
which operates a GSM system, and Telecom. If
you have a GSM compatible phone, your phone
should work in New Zealand. Telecom have roaming
agreements with a number of overseas mobile
networks. It is advisable that you check with
your mobile phone provider before you leave.
Telecom's network coverage is more extensive
than Vodafone's, especially in remote areas.
International Roaming cell phone calls can be
expensive. To avoid a nasty surprise when you
return home, it is best to check rates with
your mobile phone provider before you leave.
Medical and Emergency Facilities;
Medical and emergency services are available
but not free to visitors. Please arrange for
insurance coverage before your departure. Comprehensive
travel insurance is recommended.
New Zealand road rules follow international
standards. New Zealand drives on the left side
of the road (the same as in the UK and Japan,
and opposite to the USA and Europe). See Driving
Averages around $1.10 cents (NZ$ and subject
to change) per litre throughout New Zealand.
New Zealanders do not depend on tips for their
income and tips are not expected for normal
service, however you may wish to show your appreciation
for extra special attention.
A departure tax of approximately NZ$25 is payable
by anyone (over the age of 12) departing via
the three international airports. This fee can
be paid by credit card and varies depending
on your departure airport.
Customs Allowances and Quarantine;
Please check with your airline for current
information about what restrictions apply.
This story was kindly provided by Motorcycles
New Zealand - rentals and tours - located right
next to Christchurch International Airport,
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