Driving in New Zealand – tips

Driving in another country is often fraught with issues: driving in New Zealand is no different.

Think about it, you are in another country, in a rental car, possibly driving on the ‘wrong side’ of the road, there are few motorways, the dual carriageway roads are often narrow and winding, you round a corner – and this is what you see!

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Now what!?

Slow down, and if there is a vehicle ahead of you, right in front of the sheep like in this photo, you are lucky, get close in behind it and tailgate slowly through the mob of sheep.

If there is no vehicle for you to follow keep to the left and drive very, very, slowly: the farmer will no doubt get his dogs to move the sheep to the right and out of your way.

However, if the sheep are moving towards you, in other words travelling in the opposite direction to you, once again keep left, and drive very slowly – although I would suggest you just stop on the left, wind down the windows, grab your camera, and enjoy the quiet and smells of the country while being engulfed by a flock of sheep.

Chances are you will never have this happen again so why not just have fun.

For up-to-date and legal information about driving in New Zealand, and to make sure of your safety, please read this  and most of all remember to keep left – especially when turning at intersections.  Many of the trolleys at airports have notices to tell visitors ‘your journey will take longer than you think’ – take heed of this message!

This was the first flock of sheep I had met for years and years so I made the most of it by driving through, then stopping and have the sheep pass me as I stood at the back of my car, with my camera. Enjoy the shots I took.

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Feeding the lions!

When I arrive at Christchurch International Airport my favourite car rental company  (Rental Cars New Zealand) has a car ready for me and I immediately  head to Orana Wildlife Park to feed the lions!

I recall my father being very dubious about a brother giving a little money to support the idea of a wildlife park and now, how surprised he would be to see what a successful place it has become. My kids have always loved a day at the park and especially driving into the lion enclosure, always hoping a lion would rub against our vehicle. This has since stopped because of stupid people who could not follow directions about keeping windows up – endangering not only themselves but also the lions and Orana staff.

I don’t have to worry about windows on this safari! I’ll be in a cage and the big cats will be fed through the wire with the big chunks, hair and bone included, down a chute.

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Planes fly overhead and memories of previous trips waft through the air, along with the smell of exotic pines and eucalyptus mixing with our native trees and the hot dusty Christchurch summer breeze. Families, young couples, the Christchurch Star’s Christmas party group, mingle with groups of tourists – all enjoying the day and its surrounds.

I have my ticket and a stamp on my arm, which guarantees my entrance into the lion’s den and arrive early at the gate in anticipation: it’s a hard day at the office – NOT!  I have two cameras and a backup battery primed for the lion encounter, an well-worth extra on the entrance fee.

Before long our guide arrives, we’re given a safety briefing then are led to the vehicle. We, about 20 of us, are chattering excitedly. Being up close to the King of the Jungle, Leo, the symbol for my birth month is thrilling.

We leave our bags at the entrance and go into the wire-caged truck back and before we push through the gates are again reminded to keep our fingers inside the vehicle. We are not to attempt to touch the lions – they’re cats but not as we know them!

It’s a wonderful experience, and my only regret is it doesn’t last long enough … that we didn’t stay still for a few minutes after the last food has been given to them, so we could just watch them.

However I’ll let the pictures tell part of the story … for best results, have a lion encounter yourself!

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To get to Orana Park see here … including taking a shuttle from the city and here is their Facebook page

Interestingly, most of the endangered animals at the Park do not belong to Orana Wildlife Trust but to the relevant international breeding programme which makes decisions about which females are best bred with which males to make sure the most diverse gene pool possible in the captive populations. From time to time animals are moved between various zoos and parks to enhance the genetic diversity of their particular species. See here for more of their conservation activities

More stories from my Orana Wildlife Park visit to follow … also other Christchurch stories including about the lovely Eliza’s Manor House where I stayed.

 

Another day juggling in the life of the kiwitravelwriter

Some-ones best friend
Some-ones best friend

What does a planning day in the life of the kiwitravelwriter look like?

Often it feelings like juggling eggs and despite once attending a  3 day clown workshop, physical juggling is not something I’m good at despite having taught many friends the skills. (Beware the pupil who outstrips the teacher!)

However with ideas for travel, blogs, and bookings I seem to be able to keep them many in the air. A recent day saw me planning 3 trips (November, December & January) at the same time – two in the South Island of New Zealand and one an island off the coast just north of Wellington, here on the North Island: all very different.

This means some great blogs are coming up over the next few months (and in-between times I still have some amazing tales to tell, and an article, and an e-book to write, about Sabah and Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo) AND re-writing a webpage about Christchurch for a UK travel company,  while at the back of my mind is an October trip to Poland that will need sorting once I’m back from my January trip to Dunedin. I really love my life – doing what I love to do, writing and travel, a great combo.

So, if you could see this mental juggling it would be mini-globes spinning through the air while staying on their axis.

The result of the days planing means I have:

Check out the links and let me know if you have any questions about the different places so I can cover them in my blogs … or maybe you have suggestions of places or things for my to-do list.