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Yesterday was a total bust.
I drove way out of my way to get to Dunedin only to arrive too late to see any penguins or albatroses because the sun was setting and no more tours were going out.
Throwing my hands up in the air, I said “screw it” and drove five more hours to Christchurch, where I set up my camper for the evening.
My goal now will be to get to the North Island today, which should give me plenty of time to return my vehicle and get prepared for Fiji before I have to leave New Zealand.
Before I started in New Zealand I check to see how big NZ was compared to other US states so I could get an estimate in size. New Zealand is closest to Colorado in both population and area. However, driving across Colorado is way easier than driving across NZ. For starters, NZ is really stretched out, so driving along the axis of the islands takes longer than going across a square. Second, the roads here aren’t designed for long distance travel. The pavment and such on the roads are fine, but they are all two-lane roads which go smack through the center of every town on its route. Finally, my campervan is a piece of crap. I can barely go the speed limit (100k/h) if I put the pedal to the metal.
That being said, traveling on the east coast is much faster than the west coast. For one thing, there are no single lane bridges everywhere. Pretty much all the bridges on the west coast were one lane, and a few were one lane with a railroad track on it. I’d hate to be caught on that bridge with a train coming at you. Also, its much flatter, so its not an endless series of hairpin turns.
New Zealand has given me a great appreciation for the Interstate Highway System.
I also would like to pronounce myself to be officially an ambedextrious driver. I’ve been driving on the left now for over two weeks (including Rarotonga) without incident. At Milford Sound, I met some Irish girls who were going to be in the states in a few weeks and they were terrified at the idea of driving on the right. They should just be happy we don’t have roundabouts.