You are entitled to drive on your British Licence for one year but after that you must retake part of your driving test.
Providing you have held your UK licence for a number of years you will only be required to do the written and oral test. This is in the form of multi choice answers and although daunting, is not too difficult. If you have only had your licence for a short time, you will be required to take the practical driving test as well.
If you successfully pass the written and oral test you will receive a full New Zealand driving licence which lasts until age 70.
Once you reach your seventies you need to pass an eyesight test and medical then you can renew your licence for 5 years. From your 76th birthday, you need a medical certificate, eyesight test and to pass a practical driving test every two years.
Bicycles are extremely popular, particularly in Christchurch, as it is so flat. It is heartening to see so many boys and girls riding their bikes to school but accidents involving cyclists seem too high. It is now law that anyone riding a bike must wear a helmet - that includes adults.
The roads are excellent, wide and well maintained even in the more remote areas. Once you are out of the cities then driving is an absolute joy. You can learn to drive at age 15 here, much to the delight of our son and to the disgust of his cousins back in England, but thankfully it is a restricted licence and you are not allowed to carry passengers unless you hold a full licence.
Railway level crossings are the scene of many fatal accidents. Watch out for them both in the cities and out in the country areas too. Flashing red lights signal the oncoming train and automatic barriers are in place at the busier junctions. In the more rural areas there might only be flashing red lights and in some more remote places just a caution sign to give way to trains.
Going into a petrol station is a real thrill with people emerging from all corners to fill your car with petrol and clean your windscreen free of charge and ask “How are you?” - even if they don’t care it’s nice to be asked!