Emeryville Amy

This blog will be a combination of my favorite places in the Bay Area and abroad, memoirs, recipes, restaurant reviews and travel experiences.

My Photo
Location: Emeryville, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Driving New Zealand Style


I survived my first day of driving in New Zealand! I didn't realize until I got in the car that we got a stick rather than an automatic. I knew that I would be driving because Laurel lost her wallet and doesn't have her license nor does she drive stick. There was no place to practice in the parking lot so I signalled to turn out onto the main road. True to form, I actually managed to turn on the windshield wipers, the spray and the lights rather than the turn indicator. While my left hand was trying to figure out the gear shift Laurel was directing me into a roundabout. Might as well try to learn everything at once. With just a few choice words from my mouth we made it through the first roundabout and were on our way.

GPS in hand, Laurel calmly talking me through every lane change and placement. She was very encouraging and cheered my small victories. We had a 7 and a half hour drive to get to Queenstown from Christchurch. Most of it was on narrow 2 lane country roads, often through mountain passes. The scenery was breathtaking and it kept changing every 30 minutes or so. I had to remind myself to not clutch the steering wheel to tightly because my hands were cramping up. I felt like my brain was being almost over taxed to get my left hand to do what my right was used to doing as far as the shifting. I realized that I haven't even driven stick at home in over 4 years but luckily since I learned to drive on it my feet knew what to do.

At one point just past a small town there was a house being transported down the road. It took up both lanes so the cars coming from the other direction had to pull off into the grassy shoulder. We inched down the road following the house for about 15 minutes before it got to a place where we could pass. Later, I had a big truck pull over in front of me blocking half the lane and forcing me to go around it. I just made it back to my lane before a car came in the other direction. Nothing like getting your heart rate up...

About half way there we came around a bend in a mountain pass and the amazing light aqua colored lake Tekapo came into view. It was absolutely stunning. There was a place to pull over to get a closer look and then we went a bit further and stopped for lunch with a view of it.

So, all in all, an amazing day. I felt completely spent by the time we got to our hotel. We checked in and Laurel went for a run. I ordered pizza for dinner so that we could just relax in our room which is by far the biggest room yet. It has a balcony surrounded by flowers. The lupin are stunning- pinks, purples, yellow, peach, white and they cover the hillsides. Laurel came rushing back into the room, flushed pink and told me to drop whatever I was doing because I had to go see the view right that moment. I grabbed my shoes and jacket and camera and we went out to the extremely steep street that the hotel is on. The light coming from between the clouds was brilliant. We trotted down to the lake and looked up at the towering craggy peaks and the rays of sunlight coming through the clouds onto the green valleys at the base of the hills. Truly, one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. We stood there in the chilly 40 degree weather and watched until the sun was gone. The hike back up the hill was worth it.

Now we are deciding what thrills we are going to have tomorrow since we arre in the thrill capitol of the world. Bungee jumping is out but almost everything else is being considered. I want to go on a flight to Milford Sound and Laurel is thinking about hang gliding.

Hope everyone is well! More soon...



Blogger Rush said...

Yeah Amy! Keep driving and enjoy that beautiful coastline! I'm so jealous right now!

10:15 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I had a similar experience in South Africa - stick shift with the left hand going around round-abouts... fun times! Glad you pulled it out!

4:05 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home