Driving - marcmandy

Driving

After 40+ years of driving on the right side of the road and driving from the left side of the car, we had the disorienting experience of driving on the opposite side of the road and sitting in the “passenger seat” to do so. There are so many things we take for granted that are just plain habit. A simple f’r instance is signaling for turns. In New Zealand the turn signal stalk is on the right and the windshield wipers are on the left. As was intimated to me by our tour organizer, John, before we left, we had the cleanest (or at least the most smudged) windshield since we would start the wipers every time we intended to signal! That also alerts the New Zealanders to the fact that we were tourists…

Why does this come up now? We are now up to the part where we are headed from The Bay of Islands to Auckland. This would be one of the longest days of driving on the entire trip and it would certainly be a good introduction to the world of opposite-side driving.

We also learned that there are *many* one lane bridges in New Zealand, especially on the South Island. It is significantly cheaper to build and maintain them and they have a system for determining right-of-way. Not once did I see it violated. 

As mentioned earlier, one of the things that I hope to do here is show things that are, if not unique to New Zealand, certainly new to me. The trees are a prime example. There were trees that I had simply never seen before. 

Also the way they grow was different from what I’ve known. 

Then there is the Kauri tree. This tree lives for hundreds of years, has no rings, grows very tall and straight, and produces strong wood without knots. The Maori used them for long canoes. When the British learned of the Kauri’s strengths, they virtually logged the trees out of existence. Part of our drive this day was through the last existing Kauri Forest where the tall trees were not logged. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize the significance of the forest until we later learned of their virtual extinction logging on the southern portion of the North Island. As such, this is essentially the only shot I got of the Kauri. They are starting to come back where they were so severely logged, but will take a very long time to grow to their full height and width, assuming climate change doesn’t do them in. This forest was the only one to survive and is now protected land. 

This was the day we would begin to discover the incredible number of cows and sheep we would encounter. In this instance, the cows are heading back to the barn in a neat line. Milking time! 

PS- I’m just not going to talk about the time in Rotorua (a week or so down the road) that I went to move the car in the hotel parking lot, got into it, and stared blankly wondering where the steering wheel was…

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