Driving, Living in New Zealand, New Zealand

Living in New Zealand: Give Way Rules

When we first moved to NZ, one of the things we were told was that the traffic in Auckland was horrible.

It’s not.  Well, not compared with Boston.  Or New York.  Now that’s terrible traffic.  Traffic here just seems like regular, big-city traffic, the likes of what you’d expect in a country’s largest city, but nothing the likes of what you’d expect in the US’s largest city.

The one rule, aside from driving on the left, that kept tripping us up was the “give way” or “yield” rule.  Used to be that if you were turning right, you had right of way.  The US equivalent would be that if you were turning left, you would have right of way.  It was confusing and weird.  It meant that even if you were turning onto the street, and your car was closest to it, you needed to stop and wait for cross traffic to go.  It was counter-intuitive and I’m sure resulted in a fair share of fender benders and honked-off motorists.

Thankfully, graciously, mercifully, that rule changed this weekend.  We don’t even own a car, and yet we were glad to see it go.

Here’s the new rule: if you’re turning right, give way.  Seems fair enough, right?

Perhaps you’re like me and need a picture to help it all make sense:

Doesn’t that make sense?  Can you understand why the old way was so confusing?


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8 thoughts on “Living in New Zealand: Give Way Rules

  1. Haha well having grown up with those rules it never really bothered me. The major reason why they changed it to that in 1977 was to get cars in the median strip waiting to turn into a side street, out of the flow of traffic as soon as possible. Having said that, I haven’t had any problems with the ‘new’ give way rules so far 🙂

  2. I think I got a headache just READING the old give way rule. I’m VERY glad they changed it to be a bit more logical.

    (And by logical. I mean exactly how I grew up with road rules. Nothing like a bit of ethnocentrism to cap off a blog comment. oh well.)

  3. Yes, I agree Jenny – I was so confused by these rules when I first moved here. And, am sooo happy to see them go!

    Your post just reminded me – when I first moved here (Palmerston North), I had to go up to Auckland for a training through work and my old boss wouldn’t let me drive in Auckland! He said traffic was way too crazy! haha. It’s nothing compared to Minneapolis/St. Paul or even Fargo for that matter! I still chuckle about that one! NZ traffic. Yeah, right. 😉

  4. So we have decided to move to New Zealand. Start date is December 3rd in Christchurch. I will be watching these weekly updates like a fiend. 😉


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