Road signs

Most of the signs you will see on New Zealand roads are international symbolic signs. This means they use the same shapes and symbols as traffic signs all over the world. Symbolic signs are used because they are quick to read and easy for all drivers to understand. New Zealand’s signs are generally made of reflective material, making them easier to read at night.

 

The three types of signs
The signs on our roads can be divided into three types:

  • compulsory signs
  • warning signs
  • information signs.

You must be able to recognise and understand each type of sign.
Some examples of these signs are shown below. The examples shown are only a small sample of the symbolic signs used on New Zealand’s roads. They are intended to familiarise you with the three main types of symbolic sign rather than introduce you to all of the signs you will see when driving.

 

Compulsory signs

Compulsory signs tell you what you must or must not do. They are usually red or blue.

Regulatory traffic sign with turn right arrow on a circular blue background

Turn right

 

Regulatory traffic sign with an arrow pointing up on a circular blue background

Keep going straight ahead

 

Regulatory traffic sign with keep left arrow on a circular blue background

Keep left

 

Regulatory traffic sign with the number 50 on a circular red background

You must not go faster than 50km/h

 

Regulatory traffic sign with the text no entry on a circular red background

You must not drive into this road

 

Regulatory traffic sign with a red strike on a left turn arrow and it has a circular red border

You must not turn left

 

Regulatory traffic sign with a red strike on a curving U arrow and it has a circular red border

You must not make a U-turn

 

Regulatory traffic sign says stop on a red hexagon

You must stop and then give way

 

Regulatory traffic upside down triangular sign with a red border that says give way

You must slow down and give way (or stop, if necessary)

 

Regulatory traffic sign that says school patrol stop on a circular red background and it has a handle protruding on the side

School patrol – you must stop

 

 
Some compulsory signs have red borders.

Regulatory traffic sign says keep left unless passing and it has a rectangular red border

You must keep left unless passing

 

Regulatory traffic sign has a bus icon on top and the word lane underneath. The sign has a square red border

Bus lane that can also be used by cycles, motorcycles, mopeds

 

Regulatory traffic sign has a bus icon on top and the word only underneath. The sign has a square red border

Bus lane that can only be used by buses

 

Regulatory traffic sign with four lines of text and it has a red border around the sign. The top line says transit lane. The middle line has a T2 icon and a car icon next to each other. The third line in smaller print says 6am-10am. The fourth line also has Mon-Fri in smaller print.

Transit lane, which can only be used by passenger service vehicles, cycles, motorcycles, mopeds and vehicles carrying at least the number of people displayed on the sign (eg T2 means two or more people, T3 means three or more people)

 

Warning signs

Warning signs alert you to a particular hazard on the road ahead. They warn you to be careful for your own safety, the safety of other road users or the safety of road workers carrying out maintenance.

There are two types of warning signs:

  • Those that warn you of a permanent hazard.
  • Those that warn you of a temporary hazard.

Both types of sign are usually diamond shaped.

 

Permanent warning signs

Permanent warning signs are either yellow and black or green and black.

Pedestrian crossing

 

Look out for children

 

Slippery surface

 

Road narrows

 

Clearance height advance warning

 

Temporary warning signs

Temporary warning signs are orange and black.

Roadworks

 

Left lane closed

 

Slips

 

Gravel surface

 

Stop on request

 

Other hazard

Note: this sign will always be
displayed with another sign
explaining the hazard,
eg ‘Flooding’
 

Information signs

Information signs give you useful information, for example, the distance to the next town. They are all rectangular, but come in a range of different colours and sizes.

You may turn left, but first give way to any
pedestrians and vehicles

 

Shows the state highway number and the
distance in kilometres to places listed

 

Shows directions to places
at the next intersection

 

Shows the way to the nearest
information centre

 

Shows the state highway number
and direction to places listed

 

Temporary information sign – roadworks or
construction site access 100 metres ahead

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