An Aussie on holidays in NZ – shocked by the reality (updated)

Today’ s blog is a comment left on our Welcome page, the author asked for it to be moved to a more suitable location.

An Aussie on holidays in NZ – shocked by the reality.

“First commendations to this site for telling the truth about NZ.

Since coming to NZ on holiday about a week and a half ago, I must say I am shocked by things I’ve found.

Since driving around for about 10 days, I’ve been abused about 5 times, by angry NZ drivers, this is while driving around hills and cliffs, in the rain. Given that in Australia I am lucky to be honked at every five years either (a) my driving has suddenly deteriorated in NZ or (b) New Zealanders are terrible drivers. I’ve going with the second option.

The sheer aggressiveness of the drivers here has to be seen to be believed. They seem to think that its your duty to throw yourself off a cliff so they can get there 2 minutes early.

I have also been amazed at how unhelpful people are to tourists, and how utterly unwilling/unknowing they are about opening times and giving simple help.

Within our first hour of driving into Auckland, we were honked at twice, and sworn at by a man with no teeth (a common occurrence here) for parking in the ‘wrong’ spot.

The prices are very high, and there are a lot of rip offs. Nobody seems to do dental.

I can’t believe how utterly aggressive and unhelpful to tourists NZ people are. Thank god we dont live here permanently, and we’ve got our return flight booked. Tourists, you have been warned. Dont get pulled in by the saturation advertising in Australia.”

Update 28/12/12

As if on cue, journalist Toby Manhire has written an article for the NZ Herald


about appalling driving conditions in New Zealand, aimed at visitors to the country it is headed Welcome to NZ, our roads will drive you insane.

“Visitors to our fair land will soon discover Kiwis pretty much take a she’ll-be-right approach to the traffic rules.”

Maybe that is something to do with most Kiwis learning to drive before they could see over the bonnet?

“We’re not, you know, 100 per cent purist when it comes to the rules of the road. Or, maybe it’s better put this way: there is an extra, unpublished chapter in the New Zealand road code, passed down from generation to generation like a beloved heirloom or sixth toe.

To help you gently blend in, here are 10 unspoken rules of the road.”

Manhire goes on to list them, including

1. Other drivers

As you steer the bends and straights of New Zealand, you will see this sign: “Think of other drivers”. Owing to budget cuts, its final three words didn’t get printed. These are: “as the enemy”.

The enemy also includes pedestrians, possums, cyclists.

2. The enemy (continued)

This is important. Only from the driver’s seat can The Enemy truly be seen. Within that furious capsule, a mysterious gas fills the air, turning otherwise rational individuals into bile-sweating maniacs. A similar effect can be observed in overeager lovers of sport, or in many who post anonymous comments on websites.

Remove them from that bubble, hose them down, and they are mostly perfectly reasonable people. The occasional road-rage inflammation excepted, drivers remember being civilised when they close the car door from the outside.

3. Following distances

In wide-open-spaced New Zealand, we don’t do invasions of personal space. Except on the roads, where, in town and country alike, it’s all strangely intimate.

Why? Hard to fathom. Plainly, it’s bloody dangerous, both in boosting the chances of a rear-end smash, and in terrifying the tail-gated driver into doing something stupid like lurching into a ditch (no, I haven’t, but nearly). What’s more, such proximity makes it considerably more difficult for the pursuing driver to overtake, limiting the sightline and resulting in stomach-churning swerves. And all this white-knuckle accelerator-brake stuff must really ramp up the fuel bill. More of that sweetly charming irrationality? Probably. Some speak, mind you, of the ancient sport of invisible tow-ropes. Of a primal, feral sexual urge. And of a nostalgic project to simulate the carriage formation of train travel in a country where the railways are for antique-lovers only…” Read on here

He finishes off with the admission that NZ tops the world stats for road deaths among the developed countries

10. We’re bad drivers

It’s painful to admit, but on almost every measure, by population, by distance travelled, serious injuries and deaths on New Zealand roads rank among the highest of developed countries. We’re getting better.

But, still. Welcome. Sorry. Watch for crossing penguins. And Hobbits. Happy New Year.

Perhaps if there was a little less fantasy and a little more reality NZ would be a safer place for all.

12 thoughts on “An Aussie on holidays in NZ – shocked by the reality (updated)

  1. We were saddened by the number of roadside “crosses” on New Z roadsides. Little weatherbattered shrines to someone’s family member.(s). Very sad. Head-on crashes populated the accident headlines. Drivers pass on blind curves as a matter of course. We noticed drivers (often men in trucks) passing in situations they would never dare to pass where we come from. These selfish stupid drivers may not even have been drunk – just taking an amazing risk *with other people’s lives* to gain a couple minutes. The roads are tiny, winding, no guard rails, and sun glare is a problem. The roads were not designed to take safety into account. Add the frightening level of drug abuse, amoral youth, boredom, social problems and alcohol to that and guess what. We stayed off the roads when we could.

  2. I have noticed the road rage increase in Nz. Everyone seems angry and depressed in this country now and that is transferred to the road, so much seriousness and lack of repect for others. Its like the whole of Nz needs a giant prosac pill.

  3. Kiwiblue, I dont know what planet you are from, but the road rules aren’t different from NZ to Australia. The honking etc is coming from the psychopathic drivers who want me to dangerously speed up on the endless clifftop roads here so they can save 1-2 minutes by me risking my life. Maybe check your facts (and your rose colored glasses) before commenting further..

  4. I have just escaped from Retardicon 6 (some of you may know it as New Zealand, locals call it Middle Earth because they’re too stupid to know that Middle Earth is based on the English midlands and that the Shire is based on Staffordshire). I will post a long detailed summary of my experiences in this puffed-up arrogant, pig-ignorant hell-hole in a few weeks, once we’ve settled back here in England.

    But to keep with the thread we’re following here, about Kiwi driving, I am howling with laughter at the typically thin-skinned delusional response from ‘kiwiblue.’ Pathetic, dim-witted and unresearched, and exactly what I’ve come to expect. The stats speak for themselves. Your own anecdotal experience of driving among these selfish arrogant idiots would simply confirm that if you have come from a country with decent values and better standards of driving, such as, say, India or Thailand. Much less anywhere in Europe. The India and Thailand cracks were included as humour to make a point by the way. I explain that here for the benefit of any kiwis who may be reading who simply won’t have the intellectual capacity to get that.

    Apart from the lack of basic mechanical skills needed to be in control of the vehicle, kiwis are rarely monitoring road and traffic conditions in front of and around them, I have never EVER followed a kiwi that doesn’t at some point mess about with God knows what between the front seatsor under the dashboard. Decency and courtesy are absent from the kiwi mindset at the best of times so to expect to find these qualities on the road is futile.

    People often mention the aggressive nature of kiwis on the road. This is a fact. But don’t make the mistake of confusing aggressive driving with physical courage. I have been subjected to their road rage on many occasions with fist shaking and gestures suggesting what will happen to me if they ever get hold of me. On the four occasions where traffic circumstances permitted, I got out of my car to challenge these threats and typically, each and every time, the thick-necked, goatee-wearing muscle-bound ute-driving kiwi ‘man’ cowered away. Big men behind the wheel, cowards when challenged. Kiwi cowardice is a theme I’ll touch on when I write my detailed account of this woman-beating, child-abusing country. Needless to say, if kiwis wanted to try out this brand of aggression on the roads of, say, Stoke-on-Trent in England, I can assure everyone that what they’d experience is akin to being born for a second time as they are dragged through the side window of their car for some, ahem, re-education.

    As I say, I have escaped from Retardicon 6 and I am now back in England. I had it easier than most as money wasn’t an issue for me and they couldn’t trap me into poverty as they consistently do as a policy whenever they can.

    For now let’s just say that New Zealand is unfriendly, ungenerous, unhelpful, stuck-up, arrogant, terminally stupid and thin-skinned in a way that would shame a tantrum-prone toddler. More to follow.

      • Glad you appreciated it. I got back to England a few days ago, my Labradors arrived the day after and my wife arrived yesterday, Christmas day. We will be buying a house in the first week of Jan, and once that’s done, I will begin my opus revealing the truth about New Zealand. People do need to be warned.

  5. I am a kiwi who has recently departed and I have to say, after growing up in Chch most of my life and driving there, I still found the driving dangerous and it got worse after the quakes. Every time I took my family out in the car it felt like I was running a gauntlet. It was not unusual for me to have to actively avoid three to four serious incidents each day I drove in town. People change lanes with no idea what is around them, drive out to the middle of intersections wrongly only to hesitate once there and cause even more risk of accidents. People are rude and always in a major hurry. The road works post quakes drove me mad and I know they have that effect on everyone but it seems to have made people more impatient, less courteous and more aggressive. Driving in Aussie seems blissful. We avoided two accidents in 10 days compared to 3-4 a day in NZ. Roads are better built for the traffic here I admit but it’s the attitude that is most helpful. Everyone gets where they are going without threatening each other and driving in a manner which is plain stupid

  6. NZ drivers desperately need to go back to basics, and be re-educated, in safe driving norms and proper road manners. The lack of etiquette here is shocking! It’s horrifying to be in the midst of the motorway being tailgated, sudden lane-drifting, and watch people driving too close to the car ahead of them. Some rude, primitive folk choose the road to unleash and vent frustrations, endangering their own as well as innocent lives. I haven’t experienced this kind of irresponsible driving in any other civilised country. May our Maker bless & protect everyone on NZ roads.

    • But if they have to be re-educated, that must mean the standards that got them their licenses …
      were not stringent enough.
      Will they admit that?

  7. On the contrary this is a fair picture of driving standards in New Zealand, which has twice the fatality rate on its roads than the UK. Some countries have even taken the step of issuing official advisories to their citizens about driving hazards in New Zealand. This is Australia’s This is what the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has to say:

    “Whilst road conditions are generally good in New Zealand, it takes a little while to get used to local driving conditions. Even the main highways can be narrow, winding and hilly.

    In 2011 there were 284 road deaths in New Zealand (source: DfT). This equates to 6.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 3.0 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2011.”

    Lastly Kiwiblue, ALL countries have give way rules at intersections and New Zealand’s are no different to Australia’s.

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