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Getting Around Christchurch in a Rental Car

driving tips in christchurch

Christchurch and its surrounding areas are best explored on a self-drive road trip. To help you hit the ground running and assist you in maximising your enjoyment in this wonderful city, all you need to keep in mind are these simple driving tips. Looking to rent an economy car or a luxury vehicle? VroomVroomVroom can help you find the best deals.

Where to drive your rental car from Christchurch

  • Hanmer Springs: Whether you are looking for a relaxing holiday or one filled with adventure, the alpine village of Hanmer Springs has the activities you need.
  • Akaroa: Only 1.5 hours' drive from Christchurch, enjoy the picturesque outer bays and immerse yourself in the beauty of Akaroa and the wider south island.
  • Arthur's Pass: A charming township nestled in the Southern Alps of the South Island, Arthur's Pass is a must-see for hikers and nature lovers alike.
  • Kaikoura: The coastal town of Kaikoura is a great base for close-up wildlife encounters, coastal walks, and delicious seafood.

Driving tips in Christchurch

  • The speed limit on major highways linking Christchurch to other locations in New Zealand is generally 100 km/h, unless stated otherwise.
  • Keep in mind that highways around larger cities such as Christchurch usually have more than two lanes.
  • Always drive on the left side of the road. Be sure to familiarise yourself with this rule before pulling out onto the road.
  • Always look before crossing the railway lines, as not all of them have active warnings.
  • You must not park or stop your vehicle on, or closer than 6 metres to, an intersection unless there are parking spaces or a sign indicating that you can park there.
  • Check where is the nearest gas station and see whether it’s convenient to fill your tank now or later.
  • Rental vehicles may only be driven on paved roads. Off-road driving is prohibited. Read more driving tips here.

Parking in Christchurch

Parking is now made easier and quicker in the central city. Simply look for the ‘P’ signs on the one-way streets and you are on your way. Choose from thousands of parks such as the Christchurch City Council, the Crossing Carpark, and Wilson Parking. The city has also upgraded their central city parking meters from a paper pay and display system to a pay by plate system. Learn more about parking metres here.

Toll roads in Christchurch

Although there are no toll roads in Christchurch, there are three operating toll roads in New Zealand. These are the Northern Gateway Toll Road north of Auckland, and the Tauranga Eastern Link Toll Road and the Takitimu Drive Toll Road.

Driving Distances

  • Christchurch to Picton: 4hrs 50mins
  • Christchurch to Greymouth: 3hrs 21mins
  • Christchurch to Dunedin: 4hrs 43mins
  • Christchurch to Timaru: 2hrs 17mins
  • Christchurch to Lake Tekapo: 3hrs 2mins
  • Christchurch to Queenstown: 6hrs 9mins


You will need to fill your rental car with fuel before you return it to the depot. Here are a few conveniently located petrol stations in and around Christchurch.

  • Allied Petroleum - 14 Mcalpine St, Wigram, Christchurch
  • PaKnSave Fuel - 297 Moorhouse Ave, Sydenham, Christchurch
  • Z - Brougham St - Service Station - 495 Brougham St, Waltham, Christchurch
  • Caltex Hornby Diesel Stop - 74 Carmen Rd, Hei Hei, Christchurch
  • Southfuels Limited - 1/1 Edmonton Rd, Hornby, Christchurch
  • Mobil Papanui - 23 Main N Rd, Papanui, Christchurch
There’s nothing more exciting than heading off on a road trip adventure. From bungee jumping and skydiving to going on a Lord of the Rings tour and visiting the award-winning Botanic Gardens, these are just some of the best things to do in Christchurch. For a relaxing day trip, visit the charming resort town of Hanmer Springs and treat yourself to an amazing spa experience.

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