My partner and I are going to New Zealand in November for a few months and the plan is to buy a camper and drive around, checking out the sights!

The only slight hitch with this plan is I haven't yet passed my driving test (!!) I have one booked in England but if it doesn't go well I may not have time to rebook and try again before we leave.

My question is, can I take another driving test in New Zealand? What requirements would I have to meet to do so? We will be entering with a working holiday visa.

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    Have you researched the driving licence system in New Zealand at all? A cursory look at this Wikipedia page suggests your plan is completely impossible. You would need to apply for a “learner licence” and wouldn’t be able to progress to a full licence for 18 months. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driver_licence_in_New_Zealand
    – MJeffryes
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 11:27
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    @MJeffryes that looks like an answer to me!
    – Uciebila
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 11:48
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    Somehow I didn't come across that page when I was looking, or searching for the wrong thing! Thank you. Think that settles it!
    – Tom
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 15:02
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    Depending on what you mean as a "camper", driving one can be quite a bit different than driving a regular car. There's a wide spectrum of what might be termed a "camper", so it could be that you're thinking of something that's very close to driving a regular car. However, even just driving a regular car in a foreign country is often a significant shift in thinking, which is sometimes difficult even for people with significant driving experience. Driving a large "camper" can be an even larger shift in thinking. Your plan, even if you get your license in the UK, raises lots of concerns.
    – Makyen
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 20:41
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    @RobbieAverill to be honest, unless they sign up with something like Kiwi Experience (which isn’t a bad idea) then public transport outside of major cities in NZ is abysmal. There’s the Intercity busses, but they are infrequent and slow, and the only real national rail service is heavily tourist based (ie a scenic route) and not worth the money.
    – user29788
    Commented Sep 28, 2019 at 22:13

3 Answers 3


If you don't hold a full driving licence when you arrive in New Zealand you'll need to go through the NZ licence system which starts with a theory test, followed by six months as a learner, a practical test, another eighteen months* as a restricted driver (no passengers!) and finally a third test to get a full licence.

* can be reduced to twelve months if you pass an approved defensive driving course

More details at the NZTA web site

Even if you do pass your UK test, leaping into a camper van and driving in a foreign country is not a good idea. NZ roads are often winding and narrow, there are few motorways and dual-carriageways, and (as a UK driver that's lived in Wellington for eleven years) NZ drivers are not as good as they might be. You'll find insurance difficult and expensive to get.

I'd wait until you have had your full licence a couple of years before embarking on a road trip overseas.

  • Your description of NZ roads sounds rather like my experience of U.K. roads.
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 20:51
  • "NZ drivers are not as good as they might be" -> honestly, drivers everywhere in the world are not as good as they might be... It's not just an issue with NZ. Having a graduated licensing system doesn't actually improve people's driving skills, it just adds bureaucracy.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 22:26
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    @JonathanReez I was trying to be polite. What I really meant was 'NZ drivers are awful - aggressive, impatient and not infrequently intoxicated'. British drivers aren't as good as they might be, but driving standards in NZ are appalling by comparison. The graduated driving licence scheme is a relatively new introduction. It will be decades before we see the effects on NZ roads. FWIW, the death-rate per capita on NZ roads is four times what it is in Britain (or it was when I looked it up a few years ago. I see no reason think it's changed much.)
    – user104139
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 23:36
  • Also, you probably can't hire a car unless your over 25 and held a full licence for 3 years. That said, I've found that the standard of driving in NZ to have improved massively since the very strict speed limits being enforced... UK is hard to tell as its constant traffic jams, so rarely does anyone go over 10 mph in the southeast ;-)
    – RemarkLima
    Commented Sep 28, 2019 at 9:03
  • @JonathanReez I can second the comments on NZ drivers - the average down here is appallingly bad, and they have no trouble tailgating you at 100kph on a windy road. People will sit in the lane they are at doing 20kph under the limit, and then pull in in front of you as you pull over to pass them. You get pulled out on, under taken, overtaken on a blind bend etc etc etc. And all that is normal...
    – user29788
    Commented Sep 28, 2019 at 18:31

This is a mistake.

Driving isn't book knowledge. Driving is about experience. Don't attempt to drive in a foreign country until you've racked up years of daily experience driving at home.

That is why the process to get a license is so tortuous. And you shouldn't circumvent that by ticking away the months with little actual driving in that time. Buy a cheap old car. Drive it everyday around the neighborhood, then graduate to around town, then go farther, then try motorways. And learn stick!

  • That's some damn good advice right there, bravo!
    – gsamaras
    Commented Sep 28, 2019 at 21:08

This is impossible as you need to hold a learners licence for at least 6 months before you take the test.

From the AA Website:

You must be 16 1/2 or older and have held a learners license for at least 6 months to take your restricted practical test.

  • 3
    That's only part of the process. It's taken my teenagers about two years to get through the whole licensing system.
    – user104139
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 12:54

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