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Published: July 21st 2010
Pretty, eh? I decided to stop here
So, I pick up the car by one because they can't do an earlier pick-up from city central. Its nerve-wrecking getting into a tiny car that has gears on left hand and hitting a damn, bloody roundabout within 200 metres. Got through it, drove to intersection to get on highway and nearly pulled into the wrong lane with approaching truck. Quick jerk on the wheel, a bit of swearing and I am on my way to Queenstown. The first part, along Canterbury plane is flat with very few cars. I relax and crank up the radio. As the land gets higher the roads twist but the scenery gets lovely. I appreciate the gears now because I can gear down on the steep slopes. I wonder how many accidents are caused by the lovely scenery; when tourists crank their heads to linger at postcard views?
Its a weary trip the first day in rental car, driving along new and challenging roads. I stopped for the night at Lake Tekapo. Hotel was pricey but the view of lake spectacular. Next day I wait till after ten to get on the road. You have to wait for frost to melt from the roads.
Setting off from Christchurch, the land is flat.
The tires on the cars are crap for winter (like England). I stopped at Cromwell for lunch. This is fruit capital of South Island I am guessing by the size of the road display.
The roads continued to be challenging, espeically at the pass. A car was off the road, a British tourist stopped to take a photo and didn't realize how soft the sides were (plus the tires have no traction). We couldn't push him out and another person stopped with a tow rope so I left them to it. Its unnerving the lack of houses or traffic if you go off the road into a deep gorge....you might not be missed for days.
The bridges are mostly one-way and often right after a downward twist in the road. Later in the afternoon I noticed the 'empty' light flashing. Crap! How long was I running on empty? Can't imagine what would happen if little Bob sputtered to a stop on one of these narrow, no-side, twisting parts of the road. It seemed forever before I found a turnoff to a town. Arrowtown....travelers beware! There are NO petrol stations here, and no one has any gas to sell
Insane One Way Bridge
What throws you off are the one-way bridges, at the bottom of twisty roads when you cover these kind of wide rivers
or give. I was told not to worry, keep driving the 12 kms to Queenstown. Nerves on edge I proceeded. When I got to the outskirts of town I pulled into the first gas staion. Where is the gas release lever????? Hell if I knew or could see. I had to ask a fellow to find it....a small, we are talking about three centimetres in length, black as in NO words or symbols, lever near the driver's door. Fine! But no....I wasn't allowed to purchase petrol here. Why? You needed a card.
I was assured if I drive down the road 300 metres there would be a gas station for me. Nerves really frayed I got to it and put $59 of petrol into Bob.
Aaaah, yes, renting a car can be an adventure. But, you know what??? Its great getting scared and still managing to get through the day fairly well. Yes, everyone should test themselves, get out of the comfort zone from time to time. It feels wonderful to be alive.
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