After having driven over 3,500 km on the NZ journey so far, I thought I'd start a thread on driving in NZ. I know for a lot of you, driving i just another method of getting from A to B, but for others it's a passionate pastime - I'd put myself erring towards the latter. Anyway, here are some comments/observations
Firstly, NZ is certainly up there as one of the best driving destinations on the planet. Without too many interstate highways, and with limited traffic outside of the main centres, every journey is something which can be enjoyed, with multiple things to see/do. A lot of people here, certainly don't know how lucky they are.
One of my biggest bug bears though is the town planning which clearly goes on in NZ. I'm not in a hurry at all this trip, but some of the 50k zones through towns are utterly ridiculous. Carterton is easily the worst, it takes about 10 minutes to get through there! I remember as a kid, you never used to see Te Muka when you drove through Canterbury, but now it's a good 4-5k of 50k zone as the town has expanded onto the highway. Dumb, if you ask me.
I've found most NZ drivers to either be incredibly polite, or selfish arseholes - there doesn't seem to be much middle ground I.e if you get stuck behind somebody going slow, they either pull over straight away, or just not at all. For the most part, I've been the one pulling over (why drive fast through mountain passes / areas of scenery!) and I generally find I get a toot-toot or wave from about 80% of those going past, so thats nice.
Since when did NZ get so health and safety orientated that a mower on the side of the road, required 30k/hr zones AND a stop-go man. Mental. First 50k out of Nelson towards Blenheim, I counted 11 different sets of stop-go. Ridiculous! Focus your resources guys!!
Arthurs Pass is one of the worlds great drives. It's just totally awesome and those that haven't done it, really should give it a go.
I know it's been mentioned many times on here before, but NZ does have a real, genuine, hardcore, serious problem with people speeding up at passing lanes. It's endemic and it will force people to at times to do dangerous moves out of sheer frustration. The amount of times I've been following somebody at 85-90 then on a passing lane, I'm doing 120 and I'm barely catching up! It's utterly ridiclulous. We aren't talking about 10-15k speed differentials (which I can understand as roads are genuinely more open where there are additional lanes so people are more comfortable with a bit more speed, but it's not that. It's 25-40k an hour!! On more than one point on this trip, I've been following people at the 80-90 range, then watched them pull away on the passing lane, only for me to have to brake quite hard at the end of it to avoid rear ending. I'm sure the powers at be are content with their war on speed (clearly working btw, I've seen as good as no speeding since being here), but the war on passing lanes but commence soon.
All of the above does it make it difficult to cover more than 70k an hour on average. Wellington to Napier, a lazy 325k took us around 4:45 of driving time (would be 4:30 without fucking carterton) and tomorrow I do Napier - gisborne ... it's showing at 213km on the nav ... in days gone by I'd be thinking 2.5 hours for that, but I know I won't get change from 3hours.
Anyway, just some thoughts on things to share with TSF collective.