Can you explore New Zealand without a driving licence? Is it possible to get off the beaten path without one?

New Zealand is one big playground. There is always something to climb on, jump out of, hike to, a path or a trail to follow… You name it, New Zealand has it! Aotearoa truly is one of the world’s ultimate travel destinations. But how do you explore New Zealand if you don’t have a driving licence? Let us show you the options available to non-drivers, those who are too young to drive in NZ and those of us who simply don’t fancy the hassle of driving and navigating while you’re on holiday.

One thing is certain though. You won’t have to miss out on the amazingness of New Zealand when travelling without a driving licence. Check it out!

Discovering New Zealand 

New Zealand may be small in terms of geography, but it’s massive in terms of places to visit and the experiences on offer. There is heaps to see and do on these two relatively small islands.

It’s the trip of a lifetime. Where to start? Let’s take the North Island with the cosmopolitan city of Auckland (City of Sails), the thermal activity of Rotorua, rural adventures at Blue Duck Station, art-deco Napier, and the capital Wellington (craft beer anyone?). Then crossing Cook Strait into South Island to experience an amazing wine region, Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers, adventure capital of the world Queenstown, the incredible beauty of Milford Sound, mysterious Moeraki Boulders and the city of Christchurch to name a few of the highlights of the South Island.

Not just that, but there are a whole host of activities to enjoy in between. Whether it is a dip in a hot spring, hiking and biking, boat trips, white water rafting, sky diving and of course the famous activity that New Zealand gave to the world – bungee jumping – you know you want to – it’s all there to be enjoyed. But how do you get around and explore New Zealand if you don’t have a driving licence?

Canoeing at Blue Duck Station
NZ must-do: canoeing at Blue Duck Station

Explore New Zealand without a driving licence: Stray through Aotearoa!

There is a way that you can explore New Zealand without a driving licence – in fact, you can see the best of New Zealand and experience a range of exclusive activities without even driving.

When you book a Stray coach tour around New Zealand, you’re signing up for the trip of a lifetime with a bunch of mates who will probably remain lifelong buddies. You’ll enjoy a totally unique tour of New Zealand taking in all the highlights as well as some off the beaten track destinations you would never normally stray to.

No maps, no missed turnings, no car rental, no excess, no hassle – just 100% fun.

There is a choice of tours you can take to suit your budget and the amount of time you have available. You can choose to tour just North Island or South Island or opt for one of the itineraries that take in both and the whole of New Zealand.

Not only will you have a great tour with amazing trips and activities, but you’ll also be with a group of like-minded travel buddies, and have a driver-guide that knows all the coolest places. And on top of that, as well as some unforgettable extra activities, all your accommodation, breakfasts and even some lunches and dinners are included in the trip!

Happy Stray travellers eating icecream
Meet amazing people on a Stray tour and create friendships that last a lifetime

Why get a bus when you can travel by private coach?

Another alternative way to get around if you don’t have a licence is by a regular point-to-point bus service like Intercity. This will certainly take you to all the major cities, but not necessarily off-grid to some of the places you would see on a Stray tour. You will also have to arrange all your own accommodation, as well as how to get there once you’re off the bus. Then you’ll need to arrange transport and book any activities you want to do.

The other problem with a regular bus service is, well, it’s not a lot of fun. You sit on your own, with no guide and no extra stops, whereas on a Stray tour the “in-between times” and coach journeys to new destinations are very much a part of the holiday adventure. Compare a regular bus trip to the best bus pass in New Zealand!

Consider all costs if you have a licence

If you don’t have a driving licence, you won’t be able to hire a car or campervan in New Zealand. If you do have a valid driving licence then car or campervan rental might be an option for you. However, keep in mind that this can be really expensive, especially during the busy summer season, the time of the year all Kiwis and overseas tourists want to travel. Car hire prices are always skyrocketing towards the end of the year aka summertime. And don’t forget about extras you’ll have to pay when hiring a car or campervan, the hefty excess in the event of any damages.

You’re also going to have to do a fair bit of driving and buy fuel which is currently increasing in cost at the pumps. Also, in New Zealand, there is an extra Road User Charge (RUC) if you hire a diesel vehicle. RUC is a fee per kilometre travelled that your rental will add to your rental fee afterwards.

And last but not least, ask yourself if you are confident enough to drive on the other side of the road. Well, that is if you are from a country where everyone drives on the right side of the road because driving on the left side is “driving on the right side” for us here in Aotearoa. If you just got your driving licence then driving in New Zealand might be quite challenging.

Even if you do have a driving licence, bear in mind that it will need to be in English. If not, you will need to bring an International Driving Permit (IDP) or get a translation from a reliable translation service. See for more info about using your overseas driving licence in NZ and about driving in New Zealand in general.

Please note: if you are driving without the correct form of licence you could be liable for a $400 Infringement Fee, which could increase to $1,000 if the case goes to court. 

Sit back and relax on Stray Tour
The easiest and most fun way to explore New Zealand without a driving licence, just hop onto a Stray bus tour

Let someone else do the driving…. So you can kick back and relax!

The best way to discover New Zealand without a driving licence is definitely on a Stray tour. And even if you do have a licence, you’re going to get a fantastic trip, amazing experiences, quality accommodation, some meals included and everything sorted if you choose a Stray coach tour

All you have to do is book it, turn up, kick back, relax and enjoy the ride!

Mike avatar


Stray Mate Mike loves to hop on his bike to explore the outer space of the UK. Or explore nearby beaches, wherever he is in the world. You'll always find him near a coastal area. The sea breeze is what gives him the power to create amazing content about travelling the world.

Recently we launched heaps new Stray New Zealand Tours. Our new Adventure Tours are the best thing since Hop-On/Hop-Off, we've cranked up the excitement dial to max. And our new Select Tours are perfect for travellers that want to explore without compromising on comfort.

Experience New Zealand's stunning diversity, from white beaches to snowy mountains and lush rainforests, with Stray.

Adventure Tours in New Zealand

Attention, adrenaline junkies and fun-chasers!

Our Adventure Tours are here to supercharge your wanderlust and quench your thirst for the extraordinary. It'll be a journey that's cranked up to eleven - the launchpad for your epic adventure and lifelong friendships.

Select Tours in New Zealand

The road less travelled - without compromising on comfort

Buckle up for our Select Tours, the trip of a lifetime. Picture this: kicking back in 3-4 star twin/double accommodation after a day of unique, must-do activities. This isn't your average tourist experience; it's an amazing experience to the heart and soul of New Zealand.

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