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The Top 5 Things You'll See on the Road in New Zealand

24th Jul 14

Travelling around one of the most unique countries in the world, you’re bound to find a few things on the road you may not have seen or experienced before. We’ve compiled a list of what you’ll most likely see, and what to do about them.


Especially on rural/country roads, you’ll come across livestock on and around the road you’re travelling on. You will see sheep. Everywhere! They outnumber our 4 million population 10-1.

Sheep and cows

These are the most common, often crossing the road to go into another paddock/field and accompanied by a farmer. Slow down and stop if need be, and listen to the farmer’s instructions. They may like some help rounding the heard through the gate.

If there is no one around, stop a safe distance from the animals so the vehicle does not scare them. Wait for them to cross and continue on your way. Your friends and family might like to see any pictures you take of this!

Sheep crossing a New Zealand road

Wild animals

Wild goats are sometimes seen grazing on a grassy verge by a road, as with native birds like Pukeko often they know well enough to not cross the road, but if you see some ahead, slow down and be watchful.

If you see any loose stock (pigs, sheep, cows, horses etc.) that have escaped or wandered onto the road, try to contact a nearby farmer or call the local district council who will put you in touch with the nearest animal control team. They will advise you on what to do next.

Large vehicles

Namely tractors and trucks carrying milk, stock and food products. Be patient and wait until it is safe to pass, ideally on a passing lane. People driving tractors are often very courteous and will pull over to let people pass.


Hitch-hiking is legal in New Zealand; it’s not uncommon to see people standing on the side of the road with their thumb out. The most important rule is to use your common sense. You are not obligated to pick anyone up, but if you have room and everyone is happy with picking up hitch-hikers then it can be a great way to meet new people who may have great advice on where you’re going.

Be cautious if you are driving alone and decide to pick up a hitch-hiker. While New Zealand was ranked the third safest place to live in the world by the 2013 Global peace Index, use good judgement. If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t pick them up.

Drivers in some countries expect reimbursement for picking up hitch-hikers, but this is very rarely the case in New Zealand – people just enjoy doing someone a favour.

Larger than life icons

You can’t miss these – literally! From an apple, carrot and lobster, to salmon, sheep and sand fly, a number of places around the country boast these big icons that represent the area’s character or produce. See how many you can visit/take photos of.

Big fruit in Cromwell, New Zealand

Road-side stalls

It’s great to see people selling things on the side of the road – especially fresh fruit and vegetables. You may come across a few “honesty stalls”. These are displays of goods where a box is provided for people to pay for things. You are relied on to be honest when purchasing, providing the right amount of money (or close to it) and taking only what you pay for.

New Zealand is full of unique, wacky or amusing things – do have any ideas of your own? Tell us about them in a comment below.

Photo credits:
Sheep traffic by Flying Kiwi Tours, CC-BY-2.0
Icon of Cromwell by Jocelyn Kinghorn, CC-BY-SA-2.0


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Filed under Christchurch Travel Guide

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