Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stay to the left, stay to the left... Opps! Stay to the left!!

I had to get out of Auckland, out of the city, and wasn’t ready to get on a bus and travel with other people. So I hired a car (because that is what they call it here) and then worried for a couple days about driving on the wrong side of the road.
The night before I was to leave I packed back up and said bye to my new friends then was a little melancholy about leaving my hostel…which I thought was strange and bizarre, since just the day before I was saying how much I couldn’t wait to leave. But I had started to enjoy looking out my window and watching the cars drive along Queen Street and the people coming and going. It was my own private TV.
But Monday morning I was up and out waiting for my pick up from the car rental, nervous about not really knowing the driving rules and such. I ended up paying the extra insurance per day on my car because, one I didn’t know exactly how I was going to do, but mainly because I didn’t want them to charge my credit card and then have to pay the fee at the end of the month (I’m trying to be frugal with my limited funds at the moment…). So they packed my things in the car, I adjusted the seat and creeped out onto the road, then onto the SH1 north.
After about 30 minutes I was fine, driving along with everyone else out of the city and out into the country. What was I worrying about?
I stopped for coffee, at a park with a settler’s house, and a couple beaches along my way, never really getting lost, and only once did I pull to the wrong side of the road. All in all I think that day of driving was a success.
This one's for you Antoinette!

Ha! How cool and random?
It was a couple days later when I traveled to the west coast to the Kauri Forest that I ran into a bit of trouble.
Care free tracking through the Kauri forest...
I drove out of town with a little more than half a tank of gas, thinking it should be enough to get me by for the day, or I would stop and get more. No. One thing I learned about New Zealand and back roads is that there are not a lot of gas stations around. There I was after visiting the Kauri Forest, thinking I was driving the right road to get back to Piahia when the “I need gas” light blinks on. I started praying to God, blessing myself and telling him I will never leave town again without a full tank of gas if he would only help me find a station. I kept driving until I came across a truck picking up the mail on the side of the road and when I asked where the closet gas station was I was directed in the opposite direction of which I came. A few choice words popped into my head at that moment. If not for the kindness of this Kiwi woman and her children, who took pity on a stupid American girl, I am sure I would have had to walk quite a ways just to get to the closest station.

So the lesson I learned that day? Always know where your gas stations are, know how much and fast your car guzzles gas, and never leave a town without filling up if you plan to drive aways.

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