Now to state the obvious….this is not London or New York or even mad, bad Paris this is New Zealand so be prepared for:
Of course with the wide open spaces and lack of people motorbikes are very common as a leisure machine but not so much as a work tool [for instance there are NO motorcycle courier companies in Auckland or Wellington – they use pedal power bikes!] - indeed it is said that the South Island has some of the best biking roads in the world.
Along with their big engined cars a vast number of Kiwis own boats or jet skis and, like cars, these tend to be over powered……a decent little day boat with an 80 horsepower outboard will set you back about $8,000 (about £3,000).
As in the UK you can get both petrol and diesel engines and both manual and automatic gearboxes.
There is an additional tax premium paid for diesel engined cars based on the mileage driven (yep just a crafty old tax) – but is bought separately rather than included in the price at the pump so if you will do plenty of miles then go for a diesel. Prices for Petrol and Diesel are lower than in the UK but still seen as high here. You can also run your car (if it can be converted) on LPG but not sure what that costs - although it will be cheaper than either of the other 2.
There appears to me to be a preponderance of automatics and I did struggle to find a manual with the size and power I wanted.
You can obviously buy brand new and there are deals about but our experience is that the main dealers are very reluctant, at present, to do deals particularly when they hear a Pom accent……there is a general view that you are getting $3 to the £ [we all wish] and that you are therefore “well off”!
There are plenty of second hand car dealers about and of course there are good and bad amongst them. In addition there are a lot of dealers importing second hand cars from Japan. These used to have a terrible reputation for being dodgy but regulations both in NZ and Japan have been tightened and if you use a reputable dealer buying a 'Jap import' should not be a problem.
Now for a shock…..you do NOT have to take any car insurance out here in NZ!
Naturally it is still very worthwhile doing so and we would certainly recommend that you do so (as you would be liable for any damage to the other vehicle or property) but they do run a sort of 'no fault' system here but I would suggest caution is the better part of valour here!........and……the cost is very reasonable compared to the UK!
In general my impression is that Kiwis love their 4x4s and they must be the main cars on the road.
A further warning now for parents of teenagers - Kiwi kids can start the driving process from age 16! Gaining a licence is a lengthy process and the advice we had from Kiwis was to start as soon as legally allowed.
The only drawback to this, as a generalisation, is that apart from restricting the hours they can drive and who they can have in the car the system does not restrict the engine size/power of the car they can drive but they have to start sometime – I still find it weird to have had my 15 year-old son say he is popping out to surf and off he goes into his car down to the beach!
As a driver in NZ with a UK licence you can drive with no problems for up to a year but will then need to switch to an NZ license. This is very easily done at any AA shop and does not involve any tests – just money!
With regard to the law, as you my imagine Police re not always very popular so I suggest always stick to the limits in towns etc and be careful on the open road and very, very careful going through road works when temporary speed limits are in force and particularly around schools when the speed limit is rigidly enforced.
The 100 kph limit is very frustrating with such large distances to cover, but for good reason, roads in NZ aren’t as good as UK. Usually windy and narrow over mountainous terrain …..but then you do get to see more of this magnificent country!
For more information on how to move about in NZ, car dealers, prices and driving licence requirements, please contact us.