Remembering carless days

Remembering carless days

Carless day sticker. The sticker meant that nobody could drive this vehicle on a Thursday. This image was contributed by 'nobes' to the discussion forum (see below) and is shown on the windscreen of his Model A Ford.

Carless days for motor vehicles were introduced on 30 July 1979 to combat the second oil shock. They did little to reduce petrol consumption and were scrapped in May 1980.

Can you remember when? - Carless days

The following is taken from the discussion forum archive.

Jamie Mackay
Can you remember carless days?

It occurred to me today that it might be fun to think up some discussion topics about things that for many of us happened in our lifetime and which may not have had much written about them yet. If successful, one day we could work these up into a series of small features on

To kick things off, I encourage you to post your memories, experiences and opinions of carless days (by replying to this topic posting) .

Here is some background information:

Carless days were introduced on 30 July 1979. Every owner of a petrol powered, private vehicle under 4,400lbs (apart from motorbikes) had to nominate one day of every week when they would not drive that vehicle on the road. The day was indicated by a coloured sticker on the windscreen - there were (from memory) different colours for each day?

Last edited by Jamie Mackay on Sat Feb 05, 2005 12:41 pm

Sarah I
Posted: Sat Feb 05, 2005 12:19 pm
I was a teenager, and certainly recall the panic of my parents on a couple of occasions when we had gone out somewhere in the car and they suddenly realised it was in fact the day they shouldn't be driving it.

I also remember thinking that it was unfair that people with two cars were much less inconvenienced by carless days than less well off people with only one car.

Posted: Thu Feb 24, 2005 6:29 pm

I got into our old XT Falcon on our carless day as a child and turned the key. The result was that the vehicle lurched forward and crushed a wardrobe that was in front of it in the garage.

Dad was not amused and I'm sure he wishes that he had taken the car that day.

My younger sister repaired the damage to the bonnet and grill the following week with a can of house paint.

Yep, carless days went down well in our part of the country.


Bill Carter
Posted: Sun Mar 27, 2005 5:06 pm

There was a convenient way of avoiding the carless day if you had a second car, or a business had several vehicles and did not trade one in when a replacement came due,

I was one of the holders of an X sticker which was issued to those having urgent business that might need a car on any day of the week. In my case the wool industry held auctions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and that meant valuing and travelling on Sundays and Saturdays, as well as the other five.

Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2005 9:41 am

I was at high school when it came in, and at university when it ended. My parents had an exemption because their car was their sole business vehicle - the idea was that you still had a carless day (and coloured sticker) and were only supposed to use the vehicle for the specified business purpose(s) on your carless day. My parents were scrupulous in their observance of this, to the frustration of us kids, who were aware that other people with exemptions were far more casual.

I remember at university one flatmate who had the only car between us also had a small motorbike. On his carless day he used the motorbike, and on more than one occasion set off up the hill from Ohiro Bay with 3 adults and one small dog on board.......

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2005 12:09
I had just bought my first car when the car less days arrived. If you lived in a rural area your car was exempt as there is no public transport in the country. Living just outside the city boundary I was able to drive to farm jobs, uni in the city and to the pub - no problem. A full tank cost $13. Some of my mates bought motor bikes.


Mike Subritzky
Posted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 5:35
Yes I well remember Carlos Diaza...he was a Mexican chap who lived at the end of our street!

In 1979, I was in the Army and living in Papakura and had just brought my first home about 5 clicks away from the Camp.

My wife and I chose "Wednesday" as our carless day. because we had a young family. Our kids went to kindy on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. We did our shopping on Thursday night which was the late night and needed the car to go to Church on our choice of a carless day was pretty much down to Wednesday. Several of my neighbours were also in the Army and so they chose different days so that we could car pool.

Unfortunately, the Army in its' wisdom had a habit of calling you back at odd hours of the night...booted and spurred, and ready for battle.

Twice I was required to launch myself out of bed at about 0200 in the morning, shower, shave and get myself to work with my helmet, pack, and belt order (webbing).

On both occasions I was required to "comandeer" my 8 year old son Danny's bicycle wearing all of the above and pedal with considerable difficulty to Papakura Camp. Halt outside of the Camp Hospital, climb the 12 foot high (it was either 12 or 16 feet high) perimeter fence wearing my complete combat gear less my rifle, and then double down to 161 Battery lines and report for duty...riding an 8 year old boys bike wearing all of your kit tended to put aches and pains, and blisters in all of the wrong places.

Needless to say after the second call-out I went down to the Post Office and "begged" for an exemption sticker which I got after a very great deal of cross examination from the Nazi Lady across the other side of the counter.

Yes Jamie, carless days...who could forget them.



Posted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 9:56 am

My father got around this inconvenience in a novel way by simply buying a THIRD vehicle! This was a beaten up old army jeep, that we also used to take to the sand dunes at Pakiri. I'm embarrassed now when I think of it, how un-PC!!!!

Jamie Mackay
Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 9:54

Just found this on the Wikipedia - gives some more information about the problems with enforcing carless days:

Recent events have made me think it would be good to add a small feature about this to our site - does anyone happen to have an image of a carless day sticker we could use (or any other image related to the topic)?

contact me at [email protected] if you can help



Posted: Fri Oct 14, 2005 1:02 pm
I do certainly remember Carless Days here in New Zealand where almost every one had an Exemption Sticker. These Exemption Stickers had a large white X on them and they were placed beside the Vehicles Carless Day Sticker. This allowed the vehicle to be driven on its nominated carless day I still have a Thursday Carless Sticker (Purple in colour) on the windscreen of my 1930 Model A. I was told to put one in place but never told to remove it by the authorities. The interior side of the sticker has provision for the vehicles number plate details as well as date of issue. These were filled in by the Post Office staff when issued.

Some people had several different ones ( they were issued in 7 different colours-for each week day) and by wrapping them with gladrap which stuck to the interior glass, bingo you could have travel in your car 7 days a week.

Community contributions

11 comments have been posted about Remembering carless days

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Posted: 31 Oct 2022

I had my licence for a year and I was a registered nurse at a rural hospital outside Christchurch. I could use my car on a Wednesday for work but not on a Wednesday day off. I lived in at the hospital. I actually just got used to it and it did not worry me much. If desperate I could catch a bus. We were pretty relieved when it was all over.


Posted: 09 Feb 2022

I lived in a rural community during carless days. we coordinated with other families and car pooled so we always had someone available for taking kids to sports etc. Our carless day was a Tuesday.
While it was easy for people with two cars to get around it, i think it helped bring our community together.

Steve B

Posted: 08 Jul 2021

Our family owned a van which being a commercial vehicle and used also for business, was exempt. We were grateful for that as it was our only vehicle for a growing family.


Posted: 18 Nov 2017

I remember carless days. However we arrived in nz july 1980. So it could not have been scraped in may.


Posted: 25 Mar 2012

I remember carless days. I was a teenager. I had a motor bike so was exempt. My friend wasn't she choose Sunday for her carless day. We used to go out on a Saturday night in her car and then be driving home on a Sunday morning and suddenly realise that we weren't supposed to be driving. Luckily we never got caught.


Posted: 03 Sep 2010

We had two cars so carless days was really ineffective at reducing our fuel consumption. My dad ran his own business and on Sundays we used to go out quoting jobs in the family car, so we just made sure that the family car had a mid-week sticker on it and the other vehicle, being a work vehicle had a Sunday sticker on it. We also had friends who worked in the MOT and we could get a few 'replacement' stickers if we needed them. i.e. with what-ever day you wanted! Best thing the government ever did was scrapping the scheme - poorly thought out, no community consultation (pretty part and parcel with how the NZ government operates really) and punished those at a disadvantage. Just another scheme to get the NZ people hating the government even further. "Rob Muldoon before he Robs you" was a common catch cry and with good reason. Geeze - I can still see his face now, speaking out one side of his mouth with that "ahhhh, bla bla bla talk". He was like Ceasar - great thinker, poor implementer when it came to rallying the people.


Posted: 29 Sep 2009

Gidday all - does anyone have a picture of the exempt sticker ? Ideally, both front and back would be fantastic. I've searched the web and found many copies of one original picture, the thursday sticker on Noble's 1930 Model A


Posted: 01 Aug 2009

I was travelling to work in a car pool with several others when carless days were introduced. We tried to make sure we all had a different carless day, so enough vehicles were available if one of us was on leave etc. As others have said, there were so many grounds for exemption and disadvantages to those with only one vehicle, that it was far from a fair system.

Richard Oliver

Posted: 28 May 2008

Car less days. In 1979 there was a world wide fuel shortage and to reduce petrol consumption the New Zealand government decreed that each car could only be used six days a week. Our car was owned by Taubman’s Paints as I worked for them at that time. They, most selfishly I thought, insisted that the firm’s car-less days would have to be either Saturday or Sunday. Our day without a car was Sunday and we could no longer drive from our beach township of Oakura into New Plymouth for services at Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church. We walked instead up to Oakura township’s little combined church. And that was the beginning of something rather special.