Queenstown Panorama

Winter Rental Car Safety

By Destination Queenstown

Staying safe in your New Zealand rental car during the winter is easy, if you know what to expect.

Snow and Ice

Winter in New Zealand runs from June to August, but you’ll often find late snow flurries around the country’s alpine areas well into September.

If you do find yourself driving in snowy conditions make sure you carry snow chains in your vehicle.  Most New Zealand rental car companies provide chains. In some areas of New Zealand, such as the Queenstown Lakes District, there are heavy fines imposed for travellers who are unable to fit chains when asked by traffic enforcement officers.

Whilst heavy, prolonged North America or Europe-style snowfall is rare in New Zealand, you will often encounter sub-zero temperatures and icy roads.  Black ice (patches of ice on the road that are not visible to the eye) are common during winter, so always take your time on cold mornings and slow down around sharp bends.

Check the Conditions

Before setting out on your journey check the weather forecast and any road road closure warnings.

Metservice (weather forecast)

AA Roadwatch (road closures)

If you do find your intended route is closed, visit the local i-SITE Visitor Centre to find an alternative.

Take Your Time

New Zealand is a very scenic country.  Don’t rush from point A to point B – take your time!  Unlike the super highways of Europe and North America, New Zealand roads are often very scenic and winding.  A journey that might look short on the map can take longer than you think.

Stop often, rest and revive and take in the beautiful views!

KiwiCombo Pass travel passes are a great way to enjoy New Zealand during the winter.  Choose your Thrifty rental car and hotel or motel accommodation and enjoy New Zealand at your own pace.