Heavy Truck Driver Kaitaraiwa Taraka Taumaha

Heavy truck drivers drive trucks with or without trailers. They may transport materials, livestock, general freight, and hazardous substances or spread fertiliser.

Heavy truck drivers may do some or all of the following:

  • routinely check their truck
  • weigh their truck before and after it is loaded
  • supervise or help with loading their truck
  • check the condition of the load and that it is secure
  • follow correct safety procedures
  • keep records of, and check invoices for, goods they carry
  • plan the best delivery route
  • pick up goods and make deliveries
  • keep a logbook of the hours they work.

Truck drivers working as groundspreaders also spread fertiliser on farmers' land.

Groundspreaders may obtain a Spreadmark certificate.

Physical Requirements

Heavy truck drivers need to have good general health and good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses).

Useful Experience

Useful experience for heavy truck drivers includes work:

  • as a driver
  • as a truck driver's assistant
  • at loading and unloading facilities
  • in goods handling and management
  • in warehouses or stores
  • in an industry related to the materials being transported – for example, farming experience before driving livestock.

Personal Qualities

Heavy truck drivers need to be:

  • punctual
  • reliable and responsible
  • able to follow instructions
  • able to remain calm in emergencies
  • able to work well under pressure
  • courteous and law-abiding on the road.


Heavy truck drivers need to have:

  • excellent driving skills
  • basic knowledge of the mechanics of their truck and how to maintain it
  • knowledge of how to secure loads using load binders, chains and strops
  • knowledge of transport and related industry laws
  • knowledge of emergency procedures and how to handle hazardous conditions
  • ability to use satellite tracking equipment and on-board computers
  • basic literacy and numeracy skills for accurately completing log books and measuring and weighing loads.


Heavy truck drivers:

  • work varying hours depending on what kind of truck driving they do. The number of hours they are allowed to work is governed by New Zealand Transport Agency regulations
  • work in conditions that may be stressful, including poor weather and heavy traffic
  • may work locally or travel long distances, which can mean spending nights away from home.

Subject Recommendations

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but English, maths, and construction and mechanical technologies to at least NCEA Level 2 are useful.  

Heavy Truck Drivers can earn around $23-$35 per hour.

Chances of getting a job as a Heavy Truck Driver are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for heavy truck drivers varies depending on the sector, size and type of vehicle and class of licence, location and company.

  • Heavy truck drivers usually earn between minimum wage and $35 an hour.
  • Highly skilled heavy truck drivers can earn up to $45 an hour. 

Source: careers.govt.nz research, 2023.

Heavy truck drivers may buy their own vehicle and become self-employed. They may eventually run a fleet of trucks and employ a number of truck drivers.

It is also possible to move into:

  • distribution or haulage management
  • transport and logistics planning.

Heavy truck drivers may specialise in a particular area of truck driving such as:

  • line haulage (city-to-city driving)
  • driving trucks within town or city centres
  • driving trucks for specific industries such as forestry or petroleum
  • groundspreading (spreading fertiliser on farms).

Years Of Training

1-2 years of training usually required.

To become a heavy truck driver you need to hold a licence for the size and type of truck you intend to drive, and pass drug and alcohol tests.

Some employers may employ you if you have a car licence and pay you to gain the licences you need.

A New Zealand Certificate in Commercial Road Transport (Level 3) may also be useful.

MITO oversees qualifications for heavy vehicle operators (truck drivers).

The New Zealand Army also trains and employs heavy truck drivers.

More information about heavy truck licensing is available from Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency. 

Heavy Truck Driver