Monday, April 21, 2008
Differences between driving in New Zealand and in the Philippines
Remember to stay at the right side of the road, which is the left.
It's great to explore New Zealand on the road. It's also a necessity here if you want to easily go to places as they can be quite far apart. Although there is a comprehensive bus service, it can sometimes be very time-consuming. Anyway, owning a vehicle here is not a luxury, you can even drive one with no money down. However, driving here is quite different from driving in the Philippines. Here are the major differences:
(1) Keep left. They follow the British way of driving, which is driving at the left side of the road. Meaning the vehicle you'll be driving is right-hand drive. Driving on the left is a bit strange in the beginning but as you get more experience, like after a few days of driving, you'll easily adopt. It's not as hard as you might think.
(2) Special give way rule. All the roads here are clearly marked with signs to hint drivers as they pass by. It is especially important that you pay attention to these signs as they follow them here strictly. Unlike in the Philippines, as long as you don't hit anything or anybody, you're good to go. In the case of the give-way rule, if an intersection doesn't have a give-way sign, one must give way to all traffic coming from the right.
(3) Roundabout. They have here something similar to our "rotonda" there in RP, just like in Fuente Osmena in Cebu City. However, it's totally different as you need to apply the give-way rule; which basically means give-way to all traffic coming from your right. Also, always use your signal lights when turning; that includes when you're leaving the roundabout.
(4) Motorway. There is also what's called a "motorway", similar to an inter-state highway in the US. It's a high-speed driving area; up to 100 km per hour. It's got an entry and an exit ramp. It's not as elaborate or wide-spread as in the US; some even stretches for just a few kilometers but the concept is very close to that of an interstate.
You can find more information and the details on the internet about driving here in NZ. You can check out the following websites:
http://www.landtransport.govt.nz/roadcode/ - the New Zealand Road Code
http://www.aa.co.nz/Pages/default.aspx - Automobile Association NZ
Can I drive in NZ with my Philippine license? Yes. As long as your driver's license is current, you can use it to drive here in NZ for up to 12 months only. After the 12 months is over, you should get a NZ license. In order to get a NZ license, you must sit on two exams:
(1) short written test - takes about 20 to 30 mins
(2) practical test - takes about 1 hour
I would advice that you get an International Driver's Permit (IDP), also known as "international license" there in RP. They would not have any questions when you'll be converting it to a NZ license. It's actually not "converting" it but that's how they term it here. Remember, however, an IDP is not valid without your Philippine license, the plastic one, they don't honor the receipt here. It'll save you a lot of hassles to have a current driver's license and an IDP.
Use the first few months to gain experience in driving here in NZ and read and study the NZ Road Code. You can buy this book from any bookstore here for about $40. It contains everything you need to know and will definitely help you pass the written and practical exams. If you don't want to purchase the book, you can also get access to it online. The contents of the book are completely available online for free.
I also advice to drive in all driving conditions to better prepare for the exam. Like driving through highways, busy streets and the slower area in the suburbs.