Help your teen stay safe on the roads this summer


Summer is just around the corner, and for many Kiwi teenagers it's the season for road trips and music festivals.

Summer festivals.

For the parents of teen drivers it can be a nerve racking time as their children embark on long journeys, some for the first time, to attend summer music festivals all over the country, from Coromandel Gold in Whitianga to the Rhythm & Alps festival in Canterbury.

To help parents ensure that their teen will be safe on the roads this summer, the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is providing practical advice and free tools via a dedicated website, link).

The website encourages parents to work with their teen to identify hazards they may encounter when travelling by themselves, and how to manage them.

“We’re urging parents to stay involved and help keep their teens safe on the roads this summer as they drive long distances to summer festivals around the country. Long after teens get their licence they will face situations on the road they haven’t encountered before and being prepared will help them stay safe,” says NZTA Chief Executive Geoff Dangerfield.

Driving to a festival can be a daunting task for a teen who hasn’t yet experienced narrow, winding roads, road works, sun-strike, holiday-makers towing boats, heavy traffic and fatigue. Getting in the car with them to practise before they set off can be a good way to help them manage the risks when they’re on their own, even if they have already driven by themselves.

To provide teens with specific advice to help them arrive at their summer festival destination safely, the Safe Teen Driver website now also features a ‘Summer Festivals Map’. The map gives advice on the typography of some key routes and highlights conditions that some teens might not have experienced before link)

As part of the trip-planning process for festival-goers, parents and teens should plan the route they will take to the festival before they leave, so they can focus more on driving and less on finding their way. It is also important to make sure your teen understands how to drive to the conditions, and adjust their speed when the road, weather or traffic conditions change. Driving too fast for the conditions is the most common factor in teen driver crashes.

“As well as safe driving tips for teens, the Safe Teen Driver website features tips for parents on some of the most effective ways to talk to your teen about safe driving,” says Mr Dangerfield.

To find advice on how to get safely to High Life, Coromandel Gold, Parachute, Raggamuffin, Rhythm & Vines, WOMAD, La De Da, Raggamuffin, Homegrown, Luminate and Rhythm & Alps visit: link)

Tips for planning a journey

Drive by daylight

Does your teenager know that driving at night requires more energy, concentration and experience? Encourage daytime driving when it is easier to spot hazards, visibility is better and they are less likely to feel fatigued.

The 4 second rule

Even a New Zealand summer has its fair share of wet weather. Weather conditions can affect stopping distance – it takes longer for your teenager to stop on slippery, wet roads. In poor weather, encourage your teen to double the two-second rule to create a safe distance behind the car they’re following.

Sun strike secrets

Most teenagers love the sun, but do they know how to avoid sun strike? To help minimise the effects, tell your teenager to keep their windscreen clean (inside and out), wear sunglasses when driving and use the car’s sun visors to block it out. Let them know that sometimes the only safe thing to do is pull over and wait for a few minutes until the angle of the sun changes.

Heavy traffic

Everyone loves to go on holiday over the summer season, and often this means teens will encounter heavy traffic as they travel to the summer festivals. Remind them that in these situations the best response is to be patient, reduce their speed and regularly scan the road to be aware of their surroundings.

The day after

After the big event is over, it’s important your teen knows not to push their limits on the way home. Talk to them about driver fatigue, encourage them to get some rest and to eat breakfast before hitting the road in the morning. If possible they should share the driving with others who are also well-rested.


Notes to editors:

  • Data shows that New Zealand’s teen drivers are most at risk of having a serious crash in the first six to 12 months of driving solo on a restricted licence.  They are more vulnerable on the road during this period than at any other time in their lives. Over the past five years, 40 teenage restricted licence drivers have been killed and nearly 400 have been seriously injured in crashes on our roads.
  • The key conditions of the restricted licence are:
    • Restricted licence holders must not drive by themselves between 10pm and 5am. If they are going to drive between these times they must have a supervisor in the front passenger seat; and
    • Restricted licence holders must not carry passengers unless they have a supervisor with them (subject to some exceptions for spouses and dependents).
  • When a young driver has two or more passengers in the car with them, they’re ten times more likely to have a crash than if they were driving alone. If those passengers are about the same age as the driver, the risk is more than fifteen times higher than if they were driving alone.
  • 40% of crashes involving young drivers (aged 15-24) happen when it’s dark.
  • Young drivers are disproportionately involved in crashes at night (particularly Friday and Saturday nights).

North Island festivals

High Life, Waiheke Island, 31 December 2012  (external link) 

  • Auckland’s central motorway junction can be a challenge for anyone unfamiliar with the route. It’s important to choose the correct lane early as traffic is likely to be heavy. Teens should practice driving on the motorway with their parents so that they’re confident of the route before they tackle it on their own. They also need to be aware of keeping their car within their lane and being cautious of other traffic, especially traffic changing lanes ahead of them.
  • There is a new layout when travelling south over the Harbour Bridge. If you are catching a ferry to Waiheke from the CBD you will need to be in the left hand lanes before getting on the bridge. If you are catching a car ferry you will need to be in the right hand lanes heading south before getting on the bridge.

Coromandel Gold, Whitianga, 30 – 31 December 2012 link)

  • The new Kopu Bridge on SH25 will make the Coromandel Peninsula and surrounding area much more accessible and will reduce travel times considerably however, patience and allowing plenty of time is still important.
  • Roads in and out of the Coromandel are mountainous and winding, with many narrow one way bridges, which can cause delays. Teens will need to look out for the arrows that show which direction has priority over the one-lane bridges and be prepared to stop for vehicles coming the other way.
  • Many vehicles will be towing trailers and boats - there are few passing bays so teens will need to be patient, not tailgate and drive slowly and carefully.  They should let the more experienced drivers pass them if they can by pulling over where it is safe. When the road narrows at the end of the passing lane, they’ll need to indicate before they move into the single lane section.
  • A number of speed limit changes have been put in place around the Coromandel Peninsula recently.  Please take note of the speed limits wherever you are driving - and take extra care on the Thames Coast Road and Kopu-Hikuai Road (from the Kopu junction).
  • Allow plenty of time to travel to Whitianga, because at the peak holiday times the one-way bridge at Tairua can become congested.

Parachute Festival, Hamilton, 25-27 January 2012 link) 

  • Teens will need to drive with extra care on SH1 Huntly to Hamilton as it’s a high crash area.
  • On the 1 December 2012, the new Te Rapa Section of the Waikato Expressway will open, which bypasses the existing SH1 past the Base Shopping Centre.  Watch out for signs at either end of the Expressway and take extra care.
  • Because Parachute coincides with Auckland Anniversary weekend, the roads will be very busy.  There may queues and delays for traffic travelling through Huntly, Hamilton and Cambridge.  Allow plenty of time for your journey and take regular breaks.
  • If travelling from Tauranga, the Kaimai Hill on SH29 is likely to be busy.  A lot of trucks use this road, and at night and in wet weather care should be taken.

Raggamuffin, Rotorua, 1-2 February 2012 link)

  • The roads from Auckland to Rotorua are good, but caution should be taken in high traffic volumes, likely to be from Auckland to Tirau.
  • The sections of road where teens will need to drive with extra care include; SH1 Huntly to Hamilton and Hamilton to Tirau (high crash areas) and SH36 - the Mangorewa Gorge is windy and extreme care should be taken.
  • On the 1 December 2012, the new Te Rapa Section of the Waikato Expressway will open, which bypasses the existing SH1 past the Base Shopping Centre.  Watch out for signs at either end of the Expressway and take extra care.
  • Approaching Rotorua from the south there is likely to be plenty of traffic on SH1 between Waiouru and Taupo.  The road is particularly winding on the stretch of desert road South of Turangi and immediately north of Turangi on the edge of Lake Taupo.  Watch out for traffic pulling out onto the highway from the campsites next to the Lake. 

Rhythm and Vines, Gisborne, 29 – 31 December 2012 link)

  • It’s a long drive – over six hours – from Auckland to Gisborne.  Teens who have never driven for this long need to understand how important it is to take breaks at least every two hours and get plenty of rest before starting the journey. The same applies for coming back.
  • The most direct route is via SH1 and then the SH2 turn-off before Pokeno.  Your teen can then follow SH2 all the way through to Gisborne via Tauranga.   Whichever route they take, they’ll need to be prepared for heavy traffic and delays, so they should allow plenty of time, especially through the extremely windy Waioeka Gorge between Opotiki and Gisborne.
  • The other sections of road where they’ll need to be particularly careful because of high crash rates are on SH2 between Mangatawhiri and Mangatarata, the Karangahake Gorge between Paeroa and Waihi, Katikati, Tauranga and Te Puke.
  • There has been a major slip on SH2 in the Waioeka Gorge and the road is currently single lane past the slip.  This is a construction area so please drive to the conditions.  The same rules apply driving past the slip as used when driving over a single lane bridge.
  • The Tauranga Eastern Link Project has road layout changes and temporary speed limits in place.
  • Approaching Gisborne from the south, SH2 between Napier and Wairoa is particularly demanding with many narrow and winding sections of road and few passing opportunities.  Large logging trucks use this road and sometimes leave little room on the narrower sections.  It’s important to slow down even more when approaching tight corners and narrow sections to make room for trucks coming the other way.

WOMAD, New Plymouth, 15-17 March 2013 link)

  • New Plymouth is 4.5 hours from Auckland or 5 hours from Wellington.  Teens who have never driven for this long need to understand how important it is to take breaks at least every two hours and get plenty of rest before starting the journey.  This is equally important for the return journey. 
  • The most direct route from Auckland is via SH1 turning at Ngaruawahia onto SH39 and then joining SH3 at Otorohanga.  Your teen can then follow SH3 south all the way through to New Plymouth via Te Kuiti.  
  • If coming from Auckland on SH3, the section of road through Mt Messenger (50-60km north of New Plymouth) is steep, narrow and very winding.  There is a high proportion of petrol tankers on this road which sometimes leaves little room on the narrower sections.  It’s important to slow down even more when approaching tight corners and narrow sections to make room for trucks coming the other way.  It should be avoided at night if possible.  This section of road could be daunting for a teen driver and you should let them know what to expect.
  • The most direct route from Wellington is via SH1 turning at Sanson onto SH3 to head north to New Plymouth via Whanganui and Hawera.
  • If approaching New Plymouth from the south, the section of SH3 between Wanganui and Hawera is windy and could be demanding for a teen driver.  The section of SH3 between Hawera and New Plymouth is generally straight, but there are some tight out of context curves that can be a trap for new drivers unfamiliar with the road.  You need to let you teen know that they need to be alert for these sorts of corners.
  • SH43 from Taumarunui to Stratford (The Forgotten World Highway) is not a recommended route for a novice or intermediate level driver as it is a tight twisty road with a lot of steep drops and sections are unsealed. 

Le De Da, Martinborough, 30 December 2012 link)

  • Martinborough is located in the south of the Wairarapa, one hour from Wellington and 30 minutes from Masterton - it’s a rural area.
  • If your teen is travelling from Wellington on SH2, the Rimutakas are steep, narrow and very winding. There is a sheer drop at the road edge. It can be daunting the first time you drive it so make sure your teen knows what to expect.
  • They should allow plenty of time when travelling over the Rimutakas and avoid travelling on this section at night if possible. There are very limited overtaking opportunities and if they have queues of traffic building up behind them, they should pull over when possible, to allow faster vehicles past. Make sure they know how to do this safely.
  • If coming from the North on SH2, the roads have many long straight sections.  Despite this, with holiday traffic it can often be difficult to find a safe gap for passing slower vehicles.  With heat haze on these roads it can sometimes be difficult to see oncoming traffic so teens should be extra careful when overtaking and turn their headlights on even during the day.

Jim Beam Homegrown, Wellington Waterfront, 2 March 2013 link)

  • Wellington is a busy urban centre so you should get your teen to practice driving in busy traffic with you. Make sure they know how to plan their route through town so they can concentrate on handling the traffic and not be distracted by trying to navigate.  
  • If they're coming to Wellington from the North on SH2 then the segment that winds through the Rimutakas should be driven with extra care. They'll need to allow plenty of time, especially through the road works on the Wellington side of the summit.
  • SH1 and 2 approaching Wellington from the north are busy motorways so teens need to practice driving on this type of road.  They’ll need to know how to anticipate what other vehicles will do, keep position in their lane and get into the correct lane to get off the motorway in plenty of time.
  • They should also think about parking options before they arrive as parking is limited in the city centre. It's not a camping festival so if they're staying overnight in town they'll need to make sure the car is safely parked and that they can get back to where they're staying by walking or public transport.
  • They should use public transport wherever possible. For Intercity National Bus Services, schedules & bookings go to link). For trains, go to For public transport around the Wellington region go to link) 

South Island festivals

Luminate, Golden Bay, 30 January 2013 link)       

  • Most of the roads around this festival are narrow with only a single lane each way – it’s a rural area close to many national parks.
  • SH60 up to Takaka Hill is steep, narrow and very winding with a sheer drop at the road edge. Teens should be prepared to take their time as opportunities to pass slow vehicles are very limited. They should avoid travelling on this section at night if possible.
  • There’s only one road in and out to this festival so your teen will need to leave plenty of time. Canaan Road which leads to the festival is a gravel road which needs to be followed for approximately 10km. The road is very narrow in places, so will need to be driven carefully and at a low speed.  You should make sure that your teen has experience of driving on a gravel road and knows to slow down and keep well to the left at sections where traffic coming from the other direction can’t be seen.
  • The speed limit is reduced to 80km/h on some sections of the highway during the summer holiday period. 

Rhythm and Alps, Terrace Downs Canterbury, 28 – 29 December 2012 link)

  • Terrace Downs is approximately an hour’s drive west of Christchurch via SH73 and 77.  Even if they are using the main roads teens will need to take extra care at the numerous intersections and small towns on the route.  The roads are likely to be busy so the bus service from Methven and carpooling options, which have been organised by the festival, could be good alternatives to driving the whole way.
  • Approaching the festival from the south via SH1 and then SH77 from Ashburton, the roads are mostly flat and straight so it can be easy to lose concentration or become distracted.  It’s important that teens have had a good sleep before the trip and take plenty of rest stops.