Some of these posts are hilarious.
For starters, drink driving is not socially acceptable and is seriously frowned upon. If you got the impression that NZ tolerates drink driving you need to question the company you keep on your travels. Losers drive drunk, anyone in NZ will tell you the same and we have very harsh legal penalties for anyone found over the legal driving limit, which is very low - about one beer an hour.
Cycling is fine in NZ. I've cycled the country from top to bottom. Like anywhere else in the world, if you get hit by a truck you will die. My advise would be very much don't get hit by a truck and you will be fine.
My one piece of advice would be to use good judgement when trying to obtain marajuana on the street. Anyone wearing an american sports cap, baggy pants and who talks like a rapper is not telling you the truth when the say "Give me your money and I'll be back soon". They will take your money, you will not see them again. Wait until you meet people who you trust. Even better, don't smoke weed, it's illegal and can destroy weak minded individuals.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Warning to foreigners in NZ..
NZ is the most dangerous country in the world for foreign visitors...more than 1 500 dead in less than ten years since 2000 till 2008!!
This is an incredibly high stat, and unfortuanately prove that NZ is easily the most dangerous place in the world for a foreigner.
It seems actually that foreigners are deliberately targeted, specially for robbery with assault, and or robbery with rape...a good many victims end up dead, others seriously injured and broke...Related to:
- Women's Travel
Don't drive on this road
If you are driving standard car or any hire car please don't drive on Skippers Road. Your hire car insurance will not be honoured if you damage the car on this road. There is a sign at the entrance of the road stating this.
The road into Skippers Canyon is a gravel road with many tight bends, steep inclines and often only one lane wide. The sides of the canyon are precipitous and there are no guard rails.
Any tour vehicles are 4 wheel drive.Related to:
- Road Trip
The car eating Kea
The Kea is New Zealand's alpine parrot. He is a cheeky fellow. He is very inquisitive and can be quite destructive. Keas especially love cars - yes, they will eat the black rubber around the doors and windows. Be aware of the warning signs when parking your car in areas where they are known to visit.
Also take notice of the signs asking you not to feed the Kea.
They are a medium sized bird with dull green plumage but brilliant orange under the wings. Keas have a fearsome looking beak.
One lane bridges
New Zealand has many narrow bridges which are only wide enough for one car. There are signs warning you they are ahead and also whether you have right of way or must give way. More often than not they have tight corners on either side so even if you have right of way you must slow down because you may not see another car coming.Related to:
- Road Trip
another backpacker murder
this week it was a Czech girl aged 31
She was always taking a risk hitching rides alone
Be very careful in NZ, do not travel alone
The Dutch Gov issued a travel warning and the German Government said one more serious incident to a GERMAN NATIONAL and they will do same
Murder and rape and assault is very common against tourists in NZRelated to:
- Family Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
The strange Give Way rule when turning left
... is going to change at 5am on Sunday, 25 March 2012, and New Zealand will have the same turn left and right rules as the rest of the world.
Meaning all traffic turning right has to give way to a vehicle coming from the opposite direction and turning left. This applies at cross roads, T-intersections and driveways where both vehicles are facing each other with no signs or signals, or the same signs or signals.
A second rule change will be introduced regarding the give way rule at uncontrolled T intersections. All traffic from a terminating road (bottom of the T) will have to give way to all traffic on a continuing road (top of the T). This will bring it into line with T-intersections where there are Stop or Give Way signs on the terminating road. The NZ Transport Agency recommends that you think: Top of the T goes before me ;-))
Here is the story about the old give way rule.
The absolutely funny thing about this rule is that I did not know about this rule on my first two trips to New Zealand and nothing happened. Perhaps this was due to low traffic in the countryside or - in the cities - the cautious New Zealanders who automatically stop in such situations because they know that even their fellow contrymen and -women have problems with the rule... ;-)
Anyway... The rule says that if you are turning left, you have to give way to vehicles on your right that are turning right.
New Zealand is the only country in the world which has this rule, and there are endless discussions about to abolish it to make driving safer for everyone. The rule creates absurd and dangerous situations because it is not done with giving way to right-turning cars. Just try to imagine this situation: You want to turn left and see that an oncoming car wants to turn right. You stop to give way but this damn car does not turn. Of course, this is because either a tourist not used to the rule is driving this car - or a car behind you or even on a second lane behind you is heading straight on. So the oncoming car has to give way to this car. This means that you have to look into the rear mirror when turning left and only stop if there is nobody behind you who drives straight ahead...
Apart from that rule there is a nerve-cutting tendency not to drive to the middle of a big intersection when turning left or right and stay in front of a green traffic light, so sometimes only one or two cars can turn while the lights are green. I think the reason for this bad attitude is the lack of professional driving training. New Zealanders are not obliged to take driving lessons, so they can only learn what their accompanying friends and relatives teach them, and if they have never learnt how to properly turn by waiting at the furthermost point of an intersection until the oncoming traffic has passed this will not change for generations to come.
See also: http://www.landtransport.govt.nz/overseasdrivers/driving-in-nz.html
Update 4 March 2010
The Government has decided that this crazy rule will be changed - but only in early 2012. It is so hard for New Zealanders to give up old traditions ;-) So in early 2012 the turning right rule will work as in the rest of the world. I think this will be a great relief for tourists.Related to:
- Road Trip
Camping on Side of Road
If you intend to camp on the side of the road ("Freedom Camping"), you will need to be aware whether or not this is allowed in the region concerned.
Some regions require you to have an onboard toilet to Freedom Camp. Therefore small vans without and people planning to tent, should not Freedom Camp.
The website http://www.camping.org.nz/ has been set up to help you research the locations you wish to Freedom Camp. It provides useful links to help you become aware of regulations.
2011 - new laws in some regions, so be sure to check the region you will be visiting.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Fire Danger and Fires as Traffic Hazards
If you have once travelled in New Zealand and come back to your second trip you feel like home when you spot the first Fire Danger sign. They are huge signs in striking colours beside the road which indicate the actual fire danger in the area. A big needle points like a watch hand to the extent of the danger, if it is low, moderate, high, very high or extreme.
As we already have a huge problems with arsonists in NZ who love to set alight schools and houses which are easily inflammable because most are lightweight constructions around wooden framework, please try to avoid bush and other fires under any circumstances. Do not throw cigarette butts out of the car windows. If we want to blaze a paddock and make the highway disappear in thick smoke the farmers do it themselves by lighting stubble fires in strong wind, they do not need tourists to kill their weevils LOL
In summer there is a total fire ban in most regions, as you can surely imagine that the dry tussock grass landscapes of Canterbury and Otago would burn like hell. But some local people have still not come to grips with not being allowed to burn their cabbage tree leaves and other rubbish in the garden. It is more important for them to save a trip to the dump than to save the environment.Related to:
- Road Trip
"Oh well, why not ?!" ...
... is what one might say when seeing a Pizza Hut across the street in Nelson.
But before you know it, you have become a regular customer and the well-trained body you so intensively exercised for, becomes even jellier than ... anyway, you get the point.
In many car parks around the South Isalnd, we see the kea, a New Zealnd mountain parrot. I didn't expect it to be so tame. Apparently keas are a real nuisance in New Zealand, as people feed them and they become too tame and mischievous, causing damage in camp grounds and car parks. Keas are thought to number about 3,000 in New Zealand, are a protected species and one of the most intelligent birds around.
Late Winter/ Early Spring Warning!
If you are in Rural areas between late July - late August beware of the new born lambs.
They are so cute, you can hardly handle it. You'll find yourself rapping on some Taranaki or North Otago Farmer's door, saying "Please Mr. Farmer can I take a lamb back to Germany (or Israel, England, USA Botswana, or Nicaragua wherever)." And New Zealand farmers are so laid back, and kind they'll say "Oh yeah, Go and pick one. Do you need a bag to carry it in." And this is all fine and dandy.
But I warn you now, You will encounter problems at the Airport. First you'll have to declare the animal... and If you try and do it secretly, Lambs have a habit of Baaaing loudly until they are fed. And once its declared, MAF (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries) will be on you like a Fly on Sheep Poo.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Farm Stay
It might sound trivial, but you have to be very careful to avoid sunburn in New Zealand. The sun burns more intense here, so use sunscreen with a protection factor of minimum 30, and apply it at least every four hours.
In many areas of the South Island, sandflies (tiny mosquitos) can be a major nuisance. I am used to mosquitos, but 72 bites in four days were a bit much, and they are still itching. Insect repellent is recommended, but works rather unperfectly. As long as you are moving, they are not a big problem though. Try to cover as much of your body as possible, long light trousers and longsleeved shirts are recommended clothing and will at least reduce the exposure to sandfly bites.
Fight sandflies effectively
Of course, sandflies are not a real danger - but as I want to recommend to buy insect repellents in New Zealand and how to fight sandflies effectively, I cannot add them to a packing list. It always makes more sense to buy insect sprays in the countries where they should be effective..
Sandflies surely are the most annoying nuisance to humans. They are not much larger than fruit flies (up to 2.5 millimetres), and look like fruit flies - but their bites are worse than mosquito bites.
Many years ago it was said that they were most common on the West Coast, and on my frist trip to NZ in 1991 they only drove us mad there. Now they seem to be more widespread. On the South Island they are about everywhere in Fiordland and, as said, on the West Coast.
A really bad area is around Maruia Springs - just the other day we wanted to picnic on a carpark on the bank of a river but it proved to be impossible without being bitten by one million sandflies. Also in the Abel Tasman National Park there can be lots, depending on the weather. Kaiteriteri Beach can be rather a nasty spot. In the past few years they have crossed Arthur's Pass and now bite east of the dividing Southern Alps. This is also the case in the Mt. Somers area where it has the nice side effect that the nasties attract a lot of insect-eating birds, in particular the lovely fantails. In a restaurant in St. Arnaud in the Nelson Lakes National Park we found a complimentary bottle of insect spray on each table - beside pepper and salt!
On the North Island I remember we had to apply repellent wherever we went in the Bay of Islands. On the Coromandel they attacked in late afternoon on Hotwater Beach.
The intensity of attacks depends on how humid it is and if it is windy (then you will not have a problem). Covering up helps but they would still bite in your hands. If you do not want to use repellent without sense just carry it with you and apply it quickly after the first bite. Or better: sighting. Although the sandflies are tiny, just as small as fruit flies, their bites can itch for weeks and months and leave big bite marks which last a long time.
Sandflies are not found in dense bush but on the edges, in clearings and large open spaces like banks of rivers and lakes, and beaches. The classic case of being bitten is when you get off your car and think of nothing bad, and bong - you are bitten before you even think of applying insect repellent.
Or you leave the window of your accommodation open on a summer evening and turn on the light. Be assured, you will receive a hundred bites if you do not kill them with KillRaid or whichever spray you want to use. You will not find sandflies in altitudes over 1600 metres - but sure, there are not many tourist areas at this altitude ;-) You rather go to Milford or Doubtful Sound, and on a humid day with not too much wind you will see swarms of them. On a boat trip at Lake Te Anau there were zillions of them lying at the bottom of the boat's windows, luckily dead.
You surely do not care about the fact that only females suck your blood. The interesting thing is that normally they are only active during the day - but in summer also after sunset, however, not at night. But be sure, they would bite you first thing in the morning if they overnight in your room or tent or campervan ;-)
In regions where winters are really cold you will not have problems during the winter months, for example Milford Sound and Arthur's Pass. But in mild climates (particularly on the North Island) sandflies are active throughout the year. In dull, humid and overcast conditions they are most likely to bite.
There are two good thing about sandflies: They do not see at night, and they are very slow. That is why they cannot keep up with you when you walk, and they are not strong enough to fly against the wind - or the wind blows them past you. But once you stop for a photo or a break, best you find a windy spot for it ;-))
The most effective way to stay bite-free is the double strategy: Apply repellent onto your body and spray the car interior with insect spray. Spray repellent has the big advantage that you do not have it on your hands and can still eat your sandwiches without getting the stuff in your mouth. It is sold in pharmacies and supermarkets, as well as the insect spray for the car. When you, for example, leave the car for a walk spray it, so it is sandfly free (at least without living beasts...) when you come back, and just to be on the safe side spray one more shot into the car before you start again.
Once you are bitten, I have found out that tiger balm is fantastic for easing the pain and heal the bite marks. Everyone has his/her own recipe on how to deal with sandfly bites. I have tried a lot of things - but tiger balm is my number one recommendation. Tea tree oil also helps. The best, of course is to try to not get bitten.
In other countries similar species to New Zealand's sandflies are called blackflies. There are 13 species in New Zealand but only two of them bite: the New Zealand blackfly (Austrosimulium australense), and the West Coast blackfly (A. ungulatum).
More info here:
There are no big problems in New Zealand with mosquitoes. They do exist, and clearly more in the North than the South Island. I have been bitten at dusk when watering the garden but the bites have not bothered me, they were forgotten after an hour or two.
More info here:
- Road Trip
- Hiking and Walking
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