Thursday, 3 November 2011

Driving a manual car in New Zealand

So had to add some fun stories of my experiences in New Zealand.

On my 1 day off I decided I was going to leave Rotorua - if you've ever been there - you would know that Rotorua smells like sulphur all the time. The Hot Springs are amazing and the views spectacular but the smell - awful!
I asked some of the locals if you ever get use to it and they said NO! So yes it's overwhelming.

I told my new friends I was going to drive to Hastings and Napier and received some raised eyebrows - I realized later it was because the locals use planes like we use busses. So I thought I would experience more of the country by driving and that I did!

I'm always up for a challenge and so when the local Budget Rental dealer asked me if I knew how to drive a stick I responded absolutely - my first car was a stick - don't ask my little sister or bff about how brutal it was to learn as they will tell you stories I would prefer to forget :-)

Anyway I've always enjoyed driving a stick so thought this would add to adventure - again forgot to check I would be travelling more than 700 km in a day in a strange country.

When she brought the car around I got a quick lesson about how to slide into reverse - to my horror I realized it was a left hand stick - never done that before. So the first few kilometres - it was remembering to stay on the right (or the wrong) side of the road! I must admit when I tried to signal I was turning on the wiper blades and when it started to rain - I signalled but eventually I got comfortable on the open stretch before I hit the mountains - good thing!

The traffic outside of Rotorua as of course it was the Labour Day weekend so it was busier than I was told!

Now driving through the mountains - I've travelled a lot so I appreciated the great shape that the roads were in but was surprised on the very tight S-curves - many were 15 degree angles so the warnings to take the turns slowly were an understatement!

On the way to the coast I must admit I thought I was crazy but a quick stop for a long flat (or as we would call it Americano) I was on my way again - not willing to take a chance of driving with a coffee.

The trip was worth it though - seeing Hawk's Bay in person.
 There were many interesting agricultural sites to see - although I will note I saw more cattle than sheep.


  1. really pleased that you (we) survived your driving experience in NZ. The sheep county tens to be more in the south nowadays.

  2. Yes the reason that you saw more Cattle than Sheep is that you were in the Dairy Cattle of New Zealand and all the Sheep are in the South Island. For a single day that's an unbelievable drive. Hope you enjoyed all your time in New Zealand and are able to impart some of the knowledge that you learnt and some of the ideas back in the schools that you oversee in Canada. It was a lot to take in at the conference but the ideas are always good to have.

  3. Er that should have read Dairy capital of New Zealand.

  4. Pleased to hear that your road trip was safe and enjoyable - I have to admit I was a bit worried. It was great getting to meet you while you were here.

  5. Aw~ me neither! I’ve never tried driving a car with a left-hand stick… It would probably take a lot of practice for me to learn the basics (again) of driving that kind of car. Good thing you managed to get through it. You must’ve tried so hard to be able drive around the place. Ending up on Hawk’s Bay is one good achievement, after everything. ;)