Saturday, January 23, 2010
planes, trains, and automobiles
New Zealand is a relatively small country with a population of about 4 million, about the same population as Minnesota. Of this 4 million, 3 million resides on the North Island. So, that leaves only about 1 million for the South Island. One thing we have noticed is how quiet it is here. There is an airport in Nelson, but most flights are domestic prop jets and it is right on the ocean so there is very little airport noise. In a town of 50,000 like Nelson, there simply is not as much hustle and bustle like we are used to. It is very serene:).
They drive on the left side of the road here. A huge adjustment if you've never done that before. One tip I received early on is to "look right". I repeat this over and over to myself while behind the wheel. The road system is very straightforward and basic. Almost all roads are 2 lane. Only in the major population areas like Auckland and Christchurch do they bother with multilane divided roads. In many respects this makes the adjustment to the left side of the road a bit easier.
The spine of the country is formed by the mountain range known as the Southern Alps. When the rain falls or the snow melts this water needs to find a place to go. There are many, many streams and rivers that make their way across the country. Consequently, there is a need for many bridges to cross these rivers. In many cases, due to cost or space restrictions, these bridges are one lane. While quaint, this creates a new traffic issue for the uninitiated. The law is that one direction has the right of way and is indicated on a sign posted on each side of the bridge. Usually the roads are not very busy so it is not much of a concern. However, in theory, the side without the right of way could sit for a long time before being able to cross the bridge. In any event, caution must be exercised when approaching one of these bridges.
Chris, HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Sorry we aren't there to celebrate with you. Have a great day!