Traffic jams are a foreign concept in Southland, and with a major airport, public transport and connecting travel routes available, you'll find it easy to get around the region.
Invercargill Airport is New Zealand's southernmost airport and is located only 3km from Invercargill's city centre. Air New Zealand runs direct flights from Invercargill to Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland and there are daily flights between Stewart Island Rakiura and Invercargill.
Invercargill City is relatively compact so it's fairly common to see adults and children alike catching local buses, cycling, and walking.
Southland Bus routes
There are four bus routes in Invercargill servicing the suburbs of Windsor, Heidelberg, Kew, Waikiwi, and their surrounding areas. Drivers of these buses do accept cash, however, it is recommended that you use a BusSmart card to get discounted fares.
McDermott Coachlines run a daily bus service between Winton and Invercargill on weekdays, and Riverton Freight and Passenger Service run shuttles between Riverton and Invercargill.
There are also bus services from Invercargill to other regions in New Zealand via some Southland towns. Intercity is the primary provider of these services, and more information can be found here
Southland is spread out so it's not surprising that the region has one of the highest car ownership rates in New Zealand. In New Zealand, we have a three-stage drivers licencing system.
- Stage 1 - Learner Licence
After passing a theory test, you can learn to drive a vehicle while always in the company of a fully qualified driver.
Stage 2 - Restricted Licence
Once you have passed your Learner License Test, you are issued a probationary restricted license. You must be at least 16½ years old to get your Restricted Licence, and are then able to drive on your own between 5am and 10pm, between 10pm and 5am you must have a supervisor
- Stage 3 - Full Licence
This is issued upon completion of a probationary period on a Restricted Licence and having passed a comprehensive examination of your driving skills.
If you have a drivers licence from your home country, you can convert it to a New Zealand drivers licence by contacting the New Zealand Transport Authority or by popping into your local AA branch.
Please note: an International Driving Permit is for touring purposes only and is valid for 12 months from date of issue. Many employers may require you to drive company vehicles and for this an International Driving Permit will not suffice.
There are a variety of ways of buy a car in New Zealand:
- Trade Me is New Zealand’s online auction marketplace and has a large selection of cars
- Car dealerships
- Newspaper classifieds
In New Zealand, all cars on the road must have a Warrant of Fitness (WOF). This means that the car is fit and safe to drive. This sticker is located on the windscreen so check that the WOF is still valid when you are looking at buying a car. When the WOF expires, you will need to take it to your local garage or mechanic to renew it.
All cars must also be registered with the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA). The registration is displayed on the car's windscreen. Check that the registration is still valid when you are looking at buying a car. When the registration expires, you can renew it at your local post office or online.
It is not compulsory in New Zealand to have car insurance. However, it is recommended that you get third party insurance at least so if you cause an accident, you are covered for any damage you cause to other cars.
Driving in Southland
With Southland's winter conditions having the potential to make roads dangerous, make sure your vehicle brakes, wiper blades, battery and tyre pressure and tread is up to standard and operating well during the winter months. Some other tips to keep in mind:
- Southland has numerous one-way bridges where you have to give way so be aware of this.
- Look out for farm animals and horses on the road, particularly in rural areas and during wintry weather
- Slow down on wet or frosty roads and avoid braking. Be aware that a wet road following a frost in the morning can create black ice which is hidden slippery patches (especially a road beside trees or tall hedges).
- After a non-injury crash you should swap names and addresses with other motorists involved (take photos for insurance purposes). If the crash involved another person's property, such as a fence, you should report it to the owner of the property within 48 hours of the crash. If the owner cannot be located report to police within 60 hours of the crash.
- All crashes resulting in injury (such as broken bones or a night in hospital) should be reported to local police as soon as is practicable and no later than 24 hours from the time of the crash.
- Using a handheld mobile phone for texting and calling is illegal in New Zealand