Wednesday, March 18, 2009

#30 Driving on the Left Side of the Road

When Catherine picked me up in her car after I had been traveling for 30hrs, I was a bit knackered and seeing cars driving on the opposite side of the road really threw me. Cat is a fast driver and the roads were very curvy…everywhere. Needless to say I was a little hesitant about getting behind the wheel of our rental car when we got off the ferry in Picton, South Island. I certainly needed to get more comfortable with seeing people driving and seeing the road signs and intersections. On my third day there it was my turn and I was ready. It was actually really fun driving around the super curvy roads, but it was tougher in town and I usually would switch with Catherine before we got into any town with more than a couple stop signs. Of course the first time I get behind the wheel I didn’t notice that we were almost out of gas. About an hour into the ride Catherine asked about gas and I looked down and it was below empty. We started looking for gas stations but didn’t find one until probably 40mins later. I’m not sure if Catherine was upset that I hadn’t noticed, but it was a pretty quite ride till we found gas.

They have an...interesting road rule in New Zealand. If you are on a road and going to turn left (you will not be crossing lanes) and there is a person coming from the opposite direction about to turn right (crossing traffic), you have to let them turn in front of you before you turn. I forgot this rule when I did the North Island by myself and each day I kept trying to think of what the rule was, but would only remember when there was no one to ask. On my last day in the car I had a chance to ask someone and was observant of this rule after that…though I never had to use it. By the end of the trip and being able to drive by myself for a couple days, I really got used it and enjoyed the new challenge. I even felt comfortable driving in cities where there are tons of round-a-bouts and strange intersections. I even started looking the right before I crossed the road. What is going to happen when I get home! It will be then that I get mixed up and get hit by a car. Let’s hope not.

*The first time I got in my car and had to turn at a major intersection, I completely forgot which side I needed to turn on to. Thankfully a truck pulled up in one of the lanes and be the rule of deduction I knew where I was to go. Every now and then I still feel a little strange making turns.

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