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On The Other Side Of The Tasman Part 1: Plannung a Trup Un New Zealand

Quite a few Australians are thinking of heading over to the other side of the Tasman during the upcoming Rugby World Cup.  And quite a few of them are considering hiring cars to get around while they’re over there.  What do you need to know about driving in New Zealand and what are some good road trips to do while you’re over there?

Driving in New Zealand is pretty similar to driving over here, and you can use your Australian driver’s licence without any problems if you’re only over here for the Rugby World Cup.  You won’t have any hassles about remembering what side of the road to drive on – it’s just the same.  The give way rules at intersections and roundabouts are considered to be unique but it’s not that different to what happens over here: if you’re turning left, give way to anything that’s going to conflict with you. If you’re turning right, give way to things going straight through.  If you’re going straight through, give way to anything going straight through from your right.  If you want more details, you can read about it on the NZ Transport Agency’s website.

Regarding fuel, you have the choice of 98 octane unleaded, 91 octane unleaded, diesel and LPG. CNG is available in the North Island only.  Oddly, New Zealand doesn’t seem to have cottoned onto the idea of ethanol and ethanol blends much (at least not yet), so don’t go looking for these at the bowser.  Fuel prices are higher than over here, even when you take the exchange rate into account, so it could be wiser to hire a more frugal vehicle – a little hatchback might be all you need.  The garages tend to warn you if they’re the last one for a big stretch, although their big stretches aren’t as big as ours.

That’s the required stuff – now for the fun bits.  What’s a good drive to do while you’re over there?  New Zealand is tiny compared to Australia, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get some good drives with good scenery.  You can get from one end of the country to the other in a couple of days (provided the ferry crossing in the middle works out right), but most visitors like to take their time.  Australia will be playing in a number of places: Auckland, Wellington and Nelson.  Two of these are in the North Island, and one’s in the South Island, so you can plan your drive depending on where you want to go.

However, don’t feel limited to stick to the cities and towns where the Wallabies will be playing.  There’s a lot of the country to
see, and you may as well make the most of it while you’re over there, especially if you’re down south.  The fishing season will have just started, and you can probably find a bit of time to do a Lord of The Rings movie location trip if the fancy takes you that way.

If you want to take in both islands, give a little thought to how you’re going to get from north to south or vice versa.  You can put a hired car on the ferry, but it may be easier to hire separate cars on each side of Cook Straight, depending on how much luggage you have – if you have a fair bit, keeping to the one car might be the easier option.