We’re only 2 weeks away from welcoming some of our family to New Zealand, and it’s very exciting! I can’t wait to show them our home and the fabulousness that is Wellington. One of the best things we are doing is going to the South Island for a week and travelling about, seeing as much as we possibly can. This adventure is going to take place in our totally awesome beast of a van, Ernie.
Owning a car in New Zealand is slightly different to the UK, and I imagine very different to other countries, so here are the valuable lessons we have learned:
- Similar to the MoT in the UK, here in New Zealand we have the WoF (pronounced woff), which stands for Warranty of Fitness and is much more fun to say. The main difference is that you have to get it done every 6 months, not every year. Ernie’s first WoF is tomorrow – wish us luck!
- You have to pay vehicle licencing fees, pretty much like the car tax in the UK, but we call the rego. Rego can also refer to your licence plate on your vehicle. I love all the words that Kiwis have come up with for things – it really reflects the laid back attitude that even the official vehicle licencing site calls it the rego too!
- Most cars seem to be automatics here, which is probably good thing considering the obscene amount of mountains just casually strewn about the place.
- It’s not been a problem for us, but Kiwis drive on the left, just as we did in the UK. I imagine if you from the other 98% of the world that drives on the right, roundabouts must be confusing. I remember when we hired a car in Kefalonia and approached a roundabout for the first time – we got beeped at four times and almost ran over a goat. Scary days.
- In preparation for our drive round the South Island, we went to get some new tyres for Ernie. We will be driving through mountain passes and, considering how much closer we’re going to be to the South Pole, we thought it was wise to get winter tyres on Ern. BUT NO. Winter tyres don’t exist in NZ, we got a lot of blank looks and muttering of how we were the second British couple of ask that question. It seems that, if you’re venturing to the South Island in Winter, you need snow chains! Apparently, the mountain police won’t let you continue to drive unless you have snow chains ready to be fitted. So we’re off to purchase some this weekend. Gnarly.
- Everyone parks in the same direction here! I haven’t studied the Highway Code enough to know if this is actually the rules or just considered good manners, but we’re erring on the side of caution and going with the flow. Actually, it’s so ingrained that when someone parked the wrong way outside our house the other day I almost went out and had a word.
- This is Wellington specific, but it’s my favourite thing about driving here – when you drive through the Mount Vic tunnel, everyone beeps their horns in excitement! We’ve been here for 6 months and I have to be bored by this phenomenon. Mr S now has to stop me leaning over and beeping when he is driving.
So those are the things I have learned so far, but please feel free to correct me Kiwis!