The Basic Steps to Getting Your NZ Drivers Licence

January 20, 2014 at 7:31 PM


In order to drive legally in New Zealand, you will need to hold a valid driver’s licence. New Zealand has a graduated licensing system which means that there are several stages that one must pass through to become a fully licensed driver.

Stage 1 – Learner Licence

In order to apply for a Learner Licence you will need to be 16 years of age and fill out an application at a driver licensing agent. At the time of your application, you will need to present valid identification, proof of your address and book a time to complete a theory (written) test.

At the time of your learner licence application you will need to pay for your theory test and pass an eyesight test. You will also need to sign your application and have your photo taken.

You will need to complete a medical declaration which states that you safe to drive. If you have certain conditions which may affect your ability to drive safely, you may need to present a medical certificate completed by your doctor.

When you fill out your driver licence application form you will be asked if you would like to be an organ donor in the event of your death. Your driver licence cannot be produced until you select “Yes” or “No” on the application.

Organ donation saves countless lives every year but your organs cannot be harvested unless you provide the proper authorisation. If you choose "Yes" you will be automatically registered in the organ donor database. You should also discuss this decision with your family so they are aware of your wishes.

Your learner licence theory test is a test of your knowledge of the rules of the road. This ensures that you will become a safe driver.

The computerised test is comprised of 35 multiple choice questions and true/false answers which include road rules, safety practice and road hazards all relating to the licence you are applying for.

You need to get 32 out of 35 questions correct to pass.

When you are driving you must always carry your learner licence and must never drive alone. Your supervisor must be seated next to you in the front seat next to you and you must always display your learner plates (L) on the vehicle while you are driving.

The blue plastic learner licence is issued to any applicant who passes the learner’s test.

Stage 2 – Restricted Licence

Once you have held your learner licence for a minimum of six months you are eligible to apply for a restricted licence.

You will once again need to make a medical declaration, pass an eye exam and take a one hour practical test. You will need to apply for your restricted licence at a driver licensing agent and present valid identification and proof of address.
A restricted licence holder is only permitted to drive alone between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. with certain passengers. If there is a supervisor in the front seat, passenger restrictions do not apply.

When you apply for your restricted licence, you will need to book a time to undergo your restricted licence practical driving test and pay for the test and the application at the same time.

You will also need to provide your signature and have a photo taken. You also have the option of booking your testing online or by telephone, but you will need to show up at the testing branch thirty minutes prior to your test to fill out the appropriate documents and have your photograph taken.


Stage 3 – Full licence

Once you have held your restricted licence for 18 months you are free to apply for a full licence. If you have completed a defensive driving course, you are eligible to apply for a restricted licence within 12 months. If you are 25 years of age or older, your restricted licence period is six months and only three months with the completed approved driving course. You need to be 18 years of age to apply for a full licence.

You will need to book a full licence practical driving test which is thirty minutes in duration and pass it. As with a learner licence and restricted licence, you must present valid identification, proof of your address, pass an eye test, complete a medical declaration, sign the application and have your photo taken.

Once a full licence holder has held their licence for two years they become eligible to act as a supervisor for any person who holds a learner licence or a restricted licence. The full licence must be renewed every ten years until a driver reaches the age of 75. They will then need to renew their licence at age 80 and every two years after that in order to continue driving.

Each stage of the graduated licensing system has checks and balances to ensure that a driver is capable of driving and is safe on the road.

This ensures that no drivers get passed through that are not ready for the next licencing stage. If you have a medical condition that may affect your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely including:

  • Seizure disorder including epilepsy;
  • Cataracts, glaucoma;
  • Cognitive impairment;
  • Mental or nervous disorder
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Strokes

You will be required to obtain a medical certificate completed by your doctor to state that you are safe to operate a motor vehicle. Most doctors charge a fee for this certificate.

If you decide to take professional driving instruction, you are definitely making a good decision. Driving instruction from a professional can ensure that you are ready for any situation that driving presents to you.It can shorten your waiting time between graduated licensing stages and gives you a solid foundation, making you a responsible and careful driver from the start.

Although driving lessons require an investment, think of it as an investment in your future that will help you to move through the graduated licensing stages more quickly and help you to become fully licensed in less time.

Professional driving instruction may also ensure that you are eligible for auto insurance discounts due to the fact that you have received proper driving instruction from a qualified professional.

Before you take any driving lessons be sure to check that the instructor you are considering is accredited with the transportation authority.


Category: The Drivers Licence