Taxi fares

We explain the intricacies of tariffs, flag falls and extras.

Yellow taxi sign

We explain how taxis can charge, how to read the meter on metered rides, your rights as a passenger and what you can expect from the driver.

Fare breakdown

Taxi drivers have to agree the basis of the fare with the passenger before the ride starts. The fare may be calculated by a meter, agreed by negotiation or through an app.

Taxis no longer have to use meters but may still choose to use one. Fares based on metered rates have 3 main components:

  • Flag fall
  • Tariff or rate
  • Extras

Flag fall

This is the cost of getting into the cab. You're up for this charge before the cab even leaves the kerb.

A cheaper flag fall doesn't necessarily mean a cheaper trip as some firms combine cheap flag falls with more expensive tariffs to add up to a more expensive fare overall.

Tariff or rate

The tariff or rate is the cost to travel one kilometre. Taxi firms often use different tariffs depending on the time of day or night. Some use different tariffs when four or more passengers are in the vehicle.

Taxi meters automatically reduce the tariff when the cab is stationary or going slower than 20km/h. They then switch to a waiting rate calculated by the minute.

The flag fall is combined with the tariff and the total is displayed on the taxi meter.


Extras are other expenses that are unrelated to the time or distance of the journey. The most common extras are charges for catching a cab to or from an airport, which are paid to the airport authority. Some companies also use extras to charge more for late night/early morning trips, or for carrying bikes or other large items. You'll also be up for a fee if you "soil" the cab.

Taxi meters allow cabbies to add extra fees to any journey. If you don't know why you are being asked to pay extras, ask the cabbie. They must be able to explain what you are paying for. Extras are usually displayed on the taxi meter in their own window.

At the end of the journey, the extras are added to the tariff costs to give the total fare. If you choose to pay with a credit card, eftpos or voucher, most firms expect you to pay an extra fee on top of the fare. This isn't displayed on the meter.

How to read a taxi meter

Many companies use one rate for all business. But some use different rates at night or on public holidays. Some use different rates for journeys that start or finish outside their usual territory.

If you agree to a metered fare, the taxi meter remains on hired for the journey.

This is a combination of the flag fall and the mileage rate accrued during the journey.

Extras may be charged for phone bookings, heavy luggage, or airport fees. If extras are added to your fare and you don't know why, ask the driver to explain them.
taxi meter

Identifying your cabbie

ID card
All cab drivers must have a passenger (“P”) endorsement ID card. Ask for it if you don't see it.

Licence card
Taxis must display a small passenger service licence. This should be shown on the windscreen above the registration label.

For safety reasons, taxis operating in most urban areas are required to have video cameras.

Your rights as a passenger

  • You can choose any cab waiting at the taxi rank. You do not need to take the first in line.
  • A taxi driver may not refuse to take you just because you only want to go a short distance.
  • Taxi drivers should always take you to your destination using the shortest or most advantageous route. Sometimes drivers will take a different route because they have information about traffic or road works.
  • Your driver must get permission from you before they can allow other people to ride in the taxi with you.
  • All complaints made to a taxi company are recorded in a complaints register. If you are not satisfied with the level of service you receive, contact the taxi company directly. If the matter is serious or concerns criminal activity, you should contact the Police and the New Zealand Transport Agency.

What you can expect from the driver

Drivers are no longer required to have an area knowledge certificate. Instead, they may refer to a map or GPS to find addresses.

You can expect your driver to act in an orderly and civil manner, drive safely at all times and to provide a clean, safe vehicle for your journey. A taxi is a workplace - smoking is not permitted by either you or the driver.

Market forces

The taxi industry was very heavily regulated until 1989. Before then the government limited competition with strict controls on the number of cabs on our streets.

Today the industry is a lot more open, there are more cabs and companies on the streets and there is greater competition for your business.

Part of the deregulation was complete freedom for taxi companies to set their own fare schedules. There are no regulations at all controlling what cabbies can charge, or how the different components of the fare relate to each other.

But they do have to agree the basis of the fare at the start of the trip and can’t ask you to pay more than agreed. You can also request a receipt.

Our advice

When catching a taxi:

  • You should always note the name of the company and the number of the taxi you choose. If you have a complaint about the service you receive, this information will help you when dealing with the company. If the service you receive is of a high standard, reward the company by selecting its taxis again.
  • Check your driver's ID card, which must be clearly visible.
  • If you can't see an ID card, get out and select another taxi. Ask to see the ID if it's not visible.
  • If you feel unsafe at any time, demand to be let out at the next place where people are present.
  • If your driver takes a different route or changes course or direction unexpectedly, ask them why.

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