This blog is about transportation – what I've encountered, what I've been on, what I've found in the transportation realm, what I like and what confounds me.
A few thoughts about driving in New Zealand:
– they drive on the 'other side' (never mention 'wrong side'!!!) of the road;
– there are lots of one lane bridges which seem to work great except at “rush” hour in these little burgs;
– traffic lights and stop signs are not highly regarded. Mostly it's round-about and loads of those! Takes some getting used to. They sure work beautifully!
– mostly, they obey the speed limit which seems to be 100kh (65mph-ish) on all high speed roads—-never more!
– in towns & cities, it drops to 80 then to 50 as you approach the urban center which is always clearly marked;
– signage is pretty good unlike Georgia's logistically challenged DOT personnel;
– the roads that are paved (called sealed) are very well maintained… nary a pothole!
– Lots of safety warnings for us tourists about rest periods and keeping to the left!
– Plenty of picnic areas and on some roads there are sufficient overlooks for this fantastic scenery but oddly, on other spectacular landscapes, there are virtually no stopping places;
– driving through the mountains is often exhilarating because most of the roads are so perfectly banked, you can accelerate out of one turn smoothly into the next one! Oh! to be driving a sports car instead of a Corolla ;-)!
– driving through the mountains can be gut wrenching as you speed out of a curve to face a mammoth truck – and though your brain tells you in that first instant the truck is in the wrong lane – soooo am I … in the correct/left lane! Takes practice and I've been at this for 10+/- days but I still get the willies on occasion.
– kiwis are car aficionados just like many of us…. Car clubs, muscle cars, sports car rallies, no difference!
– driving through the central plains (Canterbury and Otago), I gave the Corolla a kick up to 140 (about 87mph)… Clear day, flat and plain as driving through Nevada desert, no animals around to run in front of car, and not another soul visible for miles! Yahoooooo, I could pretend to be driving a mean machine!
– NZ GPS system NavMan is particularly unreliable in the wilderness! I think I know what those people felt like who got terribly lost in the Australian outback using the initial version of Apple Maps! I followed ' her' (the proper British wench voice) instructions a week ago and literally drove around my butt to get to my elbow. Ever since I don't trust her and make sure I know the general route before I turn the navigation over to her.
Well, today I'm driving in the wilderness and she tells me to turn and I'm immediately suspicious though I do make the turn. Sure enough, about 3k down the road, it becomes a gravel path! This is definitely wrong since we're supposed to be heading for State Highway 1, not a country lane! And to make my displeasure with her even more intense, she continued to urge me to turn around or make turns onto more gravel roads! It's fortunate for me I have some sense of direction because her map doesn't even show the compass points… no North indicator! What happens to map deprived travellers subjected to her meanderings? They'll be trapped on the MTA… (reference to ancient music with Kingston Trio) Never to be seen again!
I digress…. Back to locomotion!
This morning I had a little mishap with the car – I backed into a guard rail and made a mess of the left rear bumper! We know how bad the repair/replacement bill will be with the rental company so I decide to get it fixed locally. I was in a tiny town that has a car repair garage so I stopped into to see what they suggest and they send me up the hill and over the dale to see Lionel!
Lionel has a very large piece of property but no one seems to be around though the music is playing in one of his work areas/garages. I yell hello several times and even beep the horn but no one responds. I just roam around awhile and suddenly a couple dogs come out from behind the house barking and carrying on but no bare teeth or real threats. Finally Lionel shows with his wife, both of whom are in their mechanics' duds! The couple that works together, stays together.
Lionel is aptly named…. He has a miniature train he's built that runs around his property on racks he's laid; plus he's building the miniature steam engine locomotive among all the other engine projects in his huge garage! Today he was working on a Dodge Valiant, 3 carborator muscle car.
I have to leave Lionel after a lovely visit because he can't fix my bumper.
Off I go again into the wilderness. Lo and behold! In the next town, I find a Toyota dealer/service department. To make this very long story short, I see another nice mechanic who sends me to another in the town I'm destined to go to, Dunedin (pronounced dun-eden). I will need to give up my car for two days which is not the worst thing… I'm getting sick of being 'attached' to it!
Time to be inventive and try alternative transportation such as public transport and tour busses plus I've spent the last 10 days driving with very little exercise – time to walk more . How's that for looking at the positive…. Lol!
Late here in foggy Dunedin on Tuesday 21 January – hope you enjoyed the travels thus far!