Buying a Car in New Zealand

If you are living and working in New Zealand then sooner or later you will want to purchase your own car. Public transport may be good but it’s not so good if you live out of town or have children to ferry around. You could just rent a car of course but if you are going to be in New Zealand for any length of time then hiring gets expensive.

Requirements for Car Ownership in New Zealand

UK citizens are permitted to drive with their UK licences in New Zealand for a period of one year only, after which they must apply for a New Zealand driving licence. As the UK system is similar to that of New Zealand, you will not have to pass a test but you will need to get an eye test and present a medical certificate. You’ll also need to pay a licence fee which is $50NZ for a full licence.

Driving Regulations in New Zealand

UK drivers will find driving in New Zealand a breeze as the rules are pretty much the same, the only difference is that most signs are in kilometres and not miles. Otherwise they drive on the left, seat belts must be worn and drivers give way to those on the right.

Speed limits in towns are generally 50kph and on single carriageways it is 100kph. Find out what you need to know about driving in New Zealand on the NZ Transport Agency website.

Buying a Used Car in New Zealand

There are two types of used cars in New Zealand. The cheapest are often the used Japanese imports which can be a much riskier purchase than a used car from New Zealand.

Used Japanese Imports

These are cars that have been used in Japan and are shipped to New Zealand specifically for the purpose of re-selling. The radio will be tuned to Japanese stations and the manual will also be in Japanese which can cause confusion. You might struggle to find parts too as these will also have to be imported and you may not anything about its service history. If you do go for an import car, make sure the dealer changes the radio station for you and issues you with a warranty. If you are looking to ship a car to New Zealand from the UK
you can contact Autoshippers in the UK who offer Ro Ro and container services from and can give you the lowdown on import duties and customs formalities.

Used ‘new’ cars

These are cars that, whilst still imported, are imported new and have been registered and licensed in New Zealand, which makes it easier to track the odometer and service history. Some cars will have a certification from the AA or other certified body which will confirm the odometer reading so this is worth asking for too, on both cars from NZ and imports.

The AA offer pre purchase vehicle inspections which you can take advantage of for around $169 for non members. If you want to check the vehicle history then try LemonCheck which will give you a full history for $20.

If you go with a dealer then make sure that they are licensed and covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act which gives you buyer protection.