Today’ s blog is an update to an earlier blog published on December 24th about 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.”
As if on cue, journalist Toby Manhire has written an article for the NZ Herald today in which he said
— nzherald (@nzherald) December 27, 2012
The article was about the appalling driving conditions in New Zealand and was 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 Or, maybe it’s better put this way: there is an extra, unpublished chapter in the New Zealand road code, passed down from generation to generation like a beloved heirloom or sixth toe.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.