Saturday, February 21, 2009

Driving in New Zealand


I have learnt several valuable things about the road system and driving habits of kiwis while I have been driving round the country:

1. In most parts of New Zealand the speed limit is 100kph which is about 60 miles an hour. In a lot of places the road is so windy (see glossary update) that this is an just not possible. I thought Tasmania had windy roads until I came to New Zealand!

2. Sometimes especially on the south Island there are large distances between Petrol Stations so you should always try to keep your tank as full as possible. I realised this fact while driving from Nelson to Punekaiki as my fuel tank went dangerously low. I tried to save on fuel by constantly putting the drive stick into neutral while going down any steep hills. It was working very well too until I mistakenly put the drive stick too far – into the reverse gear! It made a very strange noise and then stalled. It would have been ok if I stalled on level ground but I was still motoring along at 60kph down windy roads only without my power steering or my servo brakes! I eventually got the thing to stop at a lay-by and decided not to try that again! I got to a petrol station with fuel to spare in the end.

3. In order to save money the New Zealand road authority have come up with a novel idea – only have one lane on their bridges. It seems that over half the bridges in the country only allow travel one way at a time. Luckily the people here have pretty good road manners so it is is never really a problem. I can just imagine them trying that in Ireland – you would have people driving their cars into the middle of bridges and then refusing to reverse as another car comes in the opposite direction. Sometimes its not just cars you have to share the bridge with – they also have instances of trains using them as well:

Combination Lefthand drive, Righthand Drive, Railtrack Bridge!

4. Another novel thing they have in New Zealand is that if you are turning left at a crossroads and the driver opposite is turning right into the same road you are then you have to give way – not the other way around. I am sure I have buggered this up at several crossroads.

Of course the best thing about driving in New Zealand is the scenery which, because you are actually driving the car rather than dozing on a bus you actually get to see. I have been on mountain drives that have been breathtaking and coastal drives that are every bit as good as the great ocean road in Australia.

Glossary update:
Kaikoura: (sorry Forgot this from my last post)Maouri Place name: Means – Meal of Crayfish (its very famous for them)
My first attempts at it consisted of things like Kinkykara, Kockykia, and KickyKocky

English Adjective. I said the roads in New Zealand were Windy to a German who had not heard of the word so asked me to spell it which I duly did. Of course this confused him even further as it is the same spelling as Windy as in the weather is very windy today! Trying to explain English to other people is very hard!

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