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Get Yourself A Car & Escape the Shaky City
By Therese Bruning
17 May 2011

 We all know of the terribly sad & tragic events of the Christchurch earthquake in February, so although a lot of Christchurch is out of bounds for tourists, that doesn’t mean the rest of the South Island is closed for business. The tourism industry is ready & waiting and the best way to get around is to hire a car.

We flew from Auckland to Christchurch, collected the car from the Airport & were on our way. While enjoying our 11 day drive, I came up with a few of my own tips to make the journey a little more pleasant.

1. If you like background noise or music while you’re driving, take some CDs with you. Most of the rentals these days have a CD player and there were large parts of our journey where we were unable to pick up any radio reception at all.

2. When driving from one town to another, take careful note of the estimated driving time rather than the kilometres you are travelling. Although the roads are really good, many of them can be winding through the mountains where you have to drive slower & take extra care. Many of the travel guides available will give you the estimated driving time from point to point & we found they were pretty accurate with their information.



3. There’s no point in being in a rush. Allow extra time for the numerous scenic spots you’ll just have to stop at en route.   



4. Be patient. Although sometimes you can be the only one on the road, at other times you are guaranteed to be driving behind other tourists, & sometimes locals who aren’t in a hurry & will be doing 20km below the speed limit. If you can’t safely pass, take a deep breath & enjoy the view while you’re driving. Remember, you’re on holiday.

5. Get used to the sight of squashed possums on the road. Sounds gross – I know – but there are a lot of them. "Ohhh" I hear you say, but these aren’t the cute little possums we have in Australia. These are pests who are a menace to native plants & wildlife & are in plague proportions in NZ. For more information, refer to http://www.kcc.org.nz/possums

6. Because of the possums, a lot of beautiful hawks come in for a free feed either on or beside the highways. Please be careful as being large birds, they can be slow to get out of the way & you don’t want to ruin your day by running one over. We came across one in the middle of the road who refused to leave his lunch & we had to drive around him.

7. Fill up with petrol when you can. There can sometimes be large distances between petrol stations & you really don’t want to get caught in the middle of nowhere having run out of petrol, no matter how lovely the views.

8. Although everything is well signposted, I recommend a GPS if possible. Many of the ones you buy in Australia are already preloaded with NZ maps & it takes away all the thinking – giving you more time to enjoy yourself.

For more general information about self-drive holidays in NZ,  click here 


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