New Zealand Self Drive Adventures

December 18, 2018

Is it safe to travel in New Zealand? By global standards, New Zealand is a very safe country. New Zealand is a westernised country with modern infrastructure, Democratic government, low crime rates, friendly people and a moderate climate. Some things to consider are:


Roads are well maintained, signposted and generally free of hazards such as Ice and snow except in Alpine areas in the winter. You will need an international driver’s license if you are going to be here for any length of time but most licenses from westernised countries will enable you to drive for a short holiday. If you are from North America, you will need to get used to driving on the opposite side of the road. Rental cars and campervans are easy to book and there is plenty of stock.

Drinking water:

Is clean and safe and can be consumed from the tap nationwide without any concern of disease or contaminants. Some areas do add fluoride to their water.

Doctors and hospitals:

Are widespread as are emergency services. If you have an accident or become sick you will be able to quickly receive assistance and medical care. However; I would recommend medical insurance to cover the costs of care as a non-resident.

Restaurants and grocery stores:

Are all inspected by the Health department and display certificates to show the level of cleanliness. Any premises not meeting the minimum standards are closed down by the Health department. Eating out and buying food is something you can be very confident about in NZ.


There are no large predators in NZ and no snakes. There is only one poisonous spider and it is very localised and seldom seen. I can’t recall hearing about anyone dying or becoming gravely ill because of a bite from this spider.

There are no crocodiles but there are sharks. Again, I can’t recall hearing about anyone being attacked by a shark in NZ. They do not seem to come in close to beaches in NZ like they do in Australia.

The climate is temperate and seldom gets extremely hot or cold. However; sunburn time in NZ is very fast due to a reduced amount of Ozone in the atmosphere. Hats and sunblock are essential in the summer months.

Crime and Terrorism:

NZ has a very low crime rate particularly when it comes to violent crime. That does not mean there is no crime, you still have to use your common sense. Walking down a dark alley in the bar strip part of town at three in the morning is asking for trouble no matter where you are. Theft from vehicles is more likely but this is generally isolated to big cities and tourist centres. In small town New Zealand many people do not lock their car or house.

Violent crime is very low compared to other countries. Again, most of these types of incidents occur in either major cities or tourist locations where there are bar strips and altercations caused by alcohol. The annual number of murders in New Zealand is approximately 45 which is more like the monthly total in many North American and European cities. Recently there has been a case of young female travelling on her being abducted and murdered. This has been sensationalised because New Zealand is considered such a safe place. No matter where you are, there is always a small degree of risk when you are travelling alone, especially if you are a female. Walking on the streets late at night or hiking in the wilderness is safer here than most places and so is hitchhiking. Unfortunately, there are evil people even in New Zealand, just far fewer of them.

To date there has been no terrorism in New Zealand. This is probably due to the country’s neutral political stance, geographic isolation and general reputation as being friendly and non-judgemental towards all nations and ethnicities.

In most current lists of the most peaceful countries New Zealand is ranked second and in the past has seldom has been below four.

Natural disasters:

Earthquakes are a regular occurrence in New Zealand because it is part of the pacific rim of fire. New Zealand is called the shaky isles for a reason. Earthquakes are quite frequent but seldom serious enough to cause damage or casualties. There has only been two earthquakes since the 1930’s that have caused major fatalities. The Napier earthquake in 1931 killed 256 people and the Christchurch earthquake in 2011 killed 185. Devastating earthquakes are a rare occurrence. Small tremors and shakes are more likely. Buildings are built to strict earthquake codes in New Zealand and your chances of being affected by an earthquake are minimal.

Cyclones, tornados, blizzards, Tsunamis and major floods are uncommon in New Zealand due to the benign climate.

In summary, New Zealand is extremely safe, friendly, clean and beautiful. If you are considering coming here on a self drive holiday there is a great deal more information available on our website.

David Turner

Author: David Turner