Driving in New Zealand



  • After having driven over 3,500 km on the NZ journey so far, I thought I'd start a thread on driving in NZ. I know for a lot of you, driving i just another method of getting from A to B, but for others it's a passionate pastime - I'd put myself erring towards the latter. Anyway, here are some comments/observations

    Firstly, NZ is certainly up there as one of the best driving destinations on the planet. Without too many interstate highways, and with limited traffic outside of the main centres, every journey is something which can be enjoyed, with multiple things to see/do. A lot of people here, certainly don't know how lucky they are.

    One of my biggest bug bears though is the town planning which clearly goes on in NZ. I'm not in a hurry at all this trip, but some of the 50k zones through towns are utterly ridiculous. Carterton is easily the worst, it takes about 10 minutes to get through there! I remember as a kid, you never used to see Te Muka when you drove through Canterbury, but now it's a good 4-5k of 50k zone as the town has expanded onto the highway. Dumb, if you ask me.

    I've found most NZ drivers to either be incredibly polite, or selfish arseholes - there doesn't seem to be much middle ground I.e if you get stuck behind somebody going slow, they either pull over straight away, or just not at all. For the most part, I've been the one pulling over (why drive fast through mountain passes / areas of scenery!) and I generally find I get a toot-toot or wave from about 80% of those going past, so thats nice.

    Since when did NZ get so health and safety orientated that a mower on the side of the road, required 30k/hr zones AND a stop-go man. Mental. First 50k out of Nelson towards Blenheim, I counted 11 different sets of stop-go. Ridiculous! Focus your resources guys!!

    Arthurs Pass is one of the worlds great drives. It's just totally awesome and those that haven't done it, really should give it a go.

    I know it's been mentioned many times on here before, but NZ does have a real, genuine, hardcore, serious problem with people speeding up at passing lanes. It's endemic and it will force people to at times to do dangerous moves out of sheer frustration. The amount of times I've been following somebody at 85-90 then on a passing lane, I'm doing 120 and I'm barely catching up! It's utterly ridiclulous. We aren't talking about 10-15k speed differentials (which I can understand as roads are genuinely more open where there are additional lanes so people are more comfortable with a bit more speed, but it's not that. It's 25-40k an hour!! On more than one point on this trip, I've been following people at the 80-90 range, then watched them pull away on the passing lane, only for me to have to brake quite hard at the end of it to avoid rear ending. I'm sure the powers at be are content with their war on speed (clearly working btw, I've seen as good as no speeding since being here), but the war on passing lanes but commence soon.

    All of the above does it make it difficult to cover more than 70k an hour on average. Wellington to Napier, a lazy 325k took us around 4:45 of driving time (would be 4:30 without fucking carterton) and tomorrow I do Napier - gisborne ... it's showing at 213km on the nav ... in days gone by I'd be thinking 2.5 hours for that, but I know I won't get change from 3hours.

    Anyway, just some thoughts on things to share with TSF collective.



  • @MajorRage nice. I'll have to try fit Arthur's pass in when I'm back next year. I notice the passing lane thing more and more each time I return, even when you're overtaking without the passing lane, it's ridiculous.

    In the same vein, each return I'm surprised at the lack of cars on the road, love it.



  • The passing lane thing happens in Aussie as well, so it is not unique to NZ.





  • I don't think the passing lane thing is as bad on this side of the Tassie mostly due to the prevalence of cruise control. But jeeze that used to shit me.

    It took some getting used to the higher number of low (or lower speed) bends in NZ. You just don't get them on highways here. Lack of hills seems to mean more rolling contry and easier terrain. Mind you most of my driving last time was either in Northland or off SH1 on secondary type highways and I'm comparing to the Bruce Highway.

    And yes. NZ has some fantastic drives.

    Aussies (and Vics in particular) go on about The Great Ocean Road. I prefer to call it The Overrated Occasionally Near The Ocean Road. Was hugely disappointed.

    (Funnily enough I found the Hay Plain more satisfying.)

    Compare it to the Kaikoura coast (is that back open?), West Coast (north of Greymouth ... haven't been south of that as an adult), the Eastern BoP and it really pales in comparison.



  • @booboo fuck yeah the Great Ocean Rd is well overrated. I have been exploring more over here since I returned to two wheels and many roads Aussie bikers rave about would hardly rate a mention in NZ. I never really appreciated what a motorcycling heaven NZ is until I left it.



  • @MajorRage wait until you get to the UK where the drivers have serious schizophrenia problems. One moment they are stopping on a straight road to let someone out of a side road (because they are considerate), nek minute its hard on the horn behind you because you are stopped as there is a delivery truck blocking the lane.

    best thing though is once you get onto the big roads well away from London no one seems to give a shit what speed you go and you can cruise at 80-90 mph like it's an autobahn.



  • However, myself included, I think we have a very competitive streak in our driving in NZ. If someone is in front of you, they should be behind you (unless it is night and they are doing a good speed which makes life easy following them).
    The thing that pisses me off in NZ is the arbitrary speed limits. A straight smooth good road has the same limit as a piece of narrow single track.
    Speed is by far the easiest thing the cops can put a limit on and control, and they do so to the extent of ignoring slow drivers and idiots that follow too closely or don't get out of my way.



  • @Crucial said in Driving in New Zealand:

    However, myself included, I think we have a very competitive streak in our driving in NZ. If someone is in front of you, they should be behind you (unless it is night and they are doing a good speed which makes life easy following them).
    The thing that pisses me off in NZ is the arbitrary speed limits. A straight smooth good road has the same limit as a piece of narrow single track.
    Speed is by far the easiest thing the cops can put a limit on and control, and they do so to the extent of ignoring slow drivers and idiots that follow too closely or don't get out of my way.

    You talking about the "open road" speed limit?

    Yes a dirt track has the same speed limit. That doesn't mean you can go that speed.

    On those sort of backroads it would be impractical to try and sign post a lower limit, and speed restrictions tend to be self imposed.

    FYI assigning a lower speed limit to a piece of road in NZ requires a fairly strict compliance with specific criteria.

    I got myself into a bit of a tangle back in the day (late 90s) as the Council I was working for required some 70k signs to be put up in a specific location.

    Somebody told me to check out how to ensure these were gazetted properly.

    In order to make it legal you had to plug in various criteria like traffic volume, % heavies, road width, shoulder width, number of side roads, number of entrances, number of pedestrians, presence of children/schools, shops/businesses, distance to obstacles ... the programme would then drop out the recommended limit. Which would then require a proper gazetting process.

    You couldn't just whack up some signs on a whim. Well you could (and they did) but not legally. And it wouldn't be enforceable if someone knew and challenged it.

    Different on this side of the Tassie where I'm pretty sure Councils can just slap up a sign.



  • @booboo Yeah I totally understand that some roads that are 'open' are in no way suitable to 100kph ley alone faster, or in many cases even nearing that. You drive to the circumstances.

    It is more on the other side of the equation where a dual highway of straight well sealed road with median barriers and multiple lanes is restricted to a speed that is well below 'safe' capabilities in a modern vehicle.

    I can drive an equivalent vehicle on an equivalent road in Europe 30kph faster with no problem whatsoever



  • @Crucial There is a move to increase the speed limit on certain stretches of the main highways to 110 kph.

    Still not the same as travelling around Europe at 130 kph.



  • Couple of years ago, I drove frok Hokitika to Wanaka via Haast Pass on a gorgeous April day (midweek so not much traffic). Un-fucking-believable. I'm surprised there aren't more crashes from simply taking in the scenery - I won't forget that affording vista in a hurry.

    Plus the pepper steak pie from the Franz Josef foodmart was not only tasty but was at a reasonable price point.



  • @Crucial said in Driving in New Zealand:

    Speed is by far the easiest thing the cops can put a limit on and control, and they do so to the extent of ignoring slow drivers and idiots that follow too closely or don't get out of my way.

    Tail gating is a chronic problem. There are fuckwits who seemingly think they can follow at "round town" distances on the open road.

    Nelson is infested with stop-go merchants. They also dig up the same stretches of road about three times a year - presumably as some sort of traffic management or "make work" plan.

    I was talking to my brother the other day about hiring a knuckle boom to prune some roadside trees. He informed me I would doubtless need a TMP ("A what?")...a Traffic Management Plan - or a bureaucrat would doubtless hastily arrive to shut me down.



  • @Crucial said in Driving in New Zealand:

    However, myself included, I think we have a very competitive streak in our driving in NZ. If someone is in front of you, they should be behind you (unless it is night and they are doing a good speed which makes life easy following them).
    The thing that pisses me off in NZ is the arbitrary speed limits. A straight smooth good road has the same limit as a piece of narrow single track.

    What infuriates me the most is dual-lane divided highways like the Hume have almost the same speed limit as the old Princes Highway when people were driving on cross-ply tyres and had drum brakes.

    @Chris-B. said in Driving in New Zealand:

    @Crucial said in Driving in New Zealand:

    Speed is by far the easiest thing the cops can put a limit on and control, and they do so to the extent of ignoring slow drivers and idiots that follow too closely or don't get out of my way.

    Tail gating is a chronic problem. There are fuckwits who seemingly think they can follow at "round town" distances on the open road.

    Welcome to the ACT where most people appear perfectly happy sitting 1-2 car lengths off your arse at 100km/h



  • @Chris-B. nah you should be right, alot of the H & S things dont apply to weekend warriors around the home.

    I nabbed a traffic cone last time they did some works out at my place, we are on an 80km stretch, but vehicles go down 100+ cos its a straight of about a km, so if I am dealing to the flax by the roadside drain, I put the cone in the middle of the road, works a treat 🙂

    Yeah the NZ habit of needing to be the car at the front of the line...not knowing how to use round abouts, not aware that someone slowing, leaving a big fucking gap and flashing thier lights is letting you into the flow of traffic.

    Problem in WHangarei is people still think there are the same number of cars on the road as there was 20 years back...newsflash asshole, the city is prety much twice the size it was, with pretty much twice the number of cars plus visitors



  • Coromandel.
    Ride/drive around that, and then try to tell me that Great Ocean Road is anything special.



  • @Kruse said in Driving in New Zealand:

    Coromandel.
    Ride/drive around that, and then try to tell me that Great Ocean Road is anything special.

    It's not as windy ...



  • What is 50kpm? I would not know how to drive that speed any more.



  • @broughie said in Driving in New Zealand:

    What is 50kpm? I would not know how to drive that speed any more.

    It's a suggestion, not a hard and fast rule



  • Recently went up to Raglan via Taupo. There is a piece of road that takes you to Te Awamutu via Poihipi / Waipapa Rd, which I hadn't been on in decades. Typical Waikato countryside, but I'll tell you what, whoever built that piece of road knew what they were doing. A very satisfying drive

    Next dry weekend I'm going to do it again just because.