Driving Kiwi Style

Trip Start Nov 10, 2013
1
4
18
Trip End Apr 02, 2014


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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Thursday, November 21, 2013

Upon arriving in Auckland, the brothers and I had scheduled a rental car for the 5 weeks that we would be together.  When we initially scheduled the rental, we figured we would be able to save money by getting a smaller vehicle and just living with the cramped conditions.  Well, we ended up with a Nissan Wingroad (a station wagon).  

This little rig, which we have less-than-affectionately taken to calling the Little Wing, is definately a tight squeeze for 4 guys, 4 trekking packs, 4 small daypacks, and groceries.  It's small; plain and simple.  It is an automatic transmission, currently has 99,000 KM on it, and it feels like the suspension (if there actually ever was any) is now non-existant.    Despite being pretty dinged and beaten-up, it is doing its job: getting us from point A to point B.

Remember, though, we are in New Zealand.  And the driving style is a little different than North American standards.  Everyone drives on the left side of the road here.  This is not the "wrong" side of the road.... It's just the left side.  Don't be an arrogant North American asshole and call it the wrong side, okay?!?  I can't stand when pig-headed people think their way is the "right way".  But I digress...

So yes, you drive on the left side of the road here, which means, that a North American cross-traffic left-hand turn is now done to the right here; and a simple right-hand turn now means you would be doing the same action, but to the left.  This also means that the steering wheel and pedals are on the left side of the vehicle, too.  

This can take a little getting used to - more remembering to walk to the left side of the vehicle, if you are the driver about to get in, as opposed to the actual aspect of driving.  The driving itself you manage to pick up very quickly, because it is just so foreign that you concentrate on following the vehicle in front of you.  However, when there is no vehicle in front, and you have to make a turn, that's when it becomes easier to forget and make a mistake.  Accidents do happen, and the statistics say that the majority of car accidents in this country are caused by North Americans.  *Gulp*

 Not to worry, I have now driven over 1,800km since arriving and things have gone well... Other than two brief situations in which I ended up taking a wider (or narrower) turn than I should have and was face to face with on-coming traffic (fortunately said traffic far off in the distance, so I had time to recover).  But with three younger brothers (aka backseat drivers, aka never-let-you-forget-a-mistake-type-of-friends), well, perhaps you've heard the saying, "... You F**K just one goat..."

 ;)

 On top of that, the roads (event the primary highways) are incredibly narrow and full of curves and turns.  This means that it takes much longer than anticipated, to arrive at a destination.  I have a GPS system and when we plug a particular destination in, the GPS says it will take "x" number of hours to get there.  Well, we've learned through experience that it will actually take "x (+) ~1 hour" to get there. And that, of course, is if traffic is not a problem.  

 Sometimes you get stuck behind a big truck, or just some local who is not in a hurry, and it becomes nearly impossible to pass, because of the twisty/curvey nature of the roads.
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