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If you are driving in alpine areas of NZ (incl Desert Rd in the NI) it is really a good idea to check road conditions before you go.
NZTA Highway Information- www.highwayinfo.govt.nz
Info line for state highways in New Zealand - 0800 44 44 49 (0800 4 HIGHWAYS)
NZTA are the government agency responsible for State Highways in New Zealand.
This is a free service with the latest official highway conditions. Make sure you can quote the state highway number to them and the towns that you will be passing through - hopefully this will then get you the right information eg. Lindis Pass is on SH8 between Omarama and Tarras.
They can also assist you to find out about driver licensing & registering vehicles in NZ.
NZTA also have twitter accounts for each region of NZ where they will provide updates about Highway conditions.
AA Roadwatch Site - http://www.roadwatch.co.nz/
This is a good graphical site & provides lots of reported incidents as well as official incidents. Not always accurate & obviously not practical to use when you are actually driving but has the most information in one place.
Incidents can be reported to roadwatch on *222 (free from mobile).
AA Road Info Line - Ph 0900 33 222
Unfortunately this is not a free service. Calls cost $1.30/min. They will give you all the same information as present on the AA Roadwatch website
Police Non-emergency Traffic Line Ph *555 from NZ mobile phones
This is a reporting service for any road incidents or hazards/issues (Bad/unsafe driving, road conditions, animals on roads, etc). This service is run by the NZ Police.
For all Emergencies dial 111