Tag Archives: Auto Club

New Zealand Travel Tips

Driving:

  • On the left
  • “roundabouts” go in a clockwise direction.
  • Divided freeways are limited to the Auckland area.
  • Highways are two lanes with periodic passing lanes.
  • One way bridges are the norm, so be aware of oncoming traffic.
  • Traffic signals are only in LARGE cities (Auckland mainly)
  • Picnic areas and public toilets are pointed out by blue road signs.
  • Picnic areas outnumber toilets 50 to one.
  • Roads are VERY winding and often precipitous.
    • WARNING: If you suffer from car sickness you may want to reconsider a road trip in New Zealand.
  • Gas (petrol) stations are few and far between on the open road, so keep your tank at least half full.
  • A town name on the road map, doesn’t indicate a town. There may be nothing more than an intersection.
  • Gas costs $2.15 NZD per litre. This equates to $8 NZD per gallon or $7 USD (as of today March 26, 2014).

Rental Car vs RV:

  • Reserve your car in advance. Supplies are limited, especially in smaller areas. You may be told there are none available at the last minute.
  • If you rent a car, be aware that insurance is mandatory and cannot be waived.
  • There is a Excess Insurance amount of $3,000 NZD which is your deductible. It will cost you an extra $35 NZD per day to waive this deductible. If you book through the NZ Auto Club with Thrify, this amount is reduced by $11 NZD per day. Since we don’t normally drive on the left, we opted to pay the extra amount per day.
  • If you are a member of your countries Auto Club, you probably have reciprocity with New Zealand. If so, see my comments below on “Auto Club”.
  • If you opt for an RV be aware of the following:
    • Narrow winding roads are more difficult to maneuver in a wider vehicle.
    • Gas consumption is generally greater than a passenger vehicle.
    • One option for renting an RV, with a smaller frame is to use Jucy Rentals. http://www.jucy.co.nz/vehicles/ These are converted passenger vans.

Auto Club:

  • If you are an auto club member in a country with reciprocity, you need to register with the New Zealand Automobile Association. They will issue you a free New Zealand AA card. You can use this card for fuel and rental car discounts. Thrifty is the NZ AA rental car partner. You can book a Thrifty rental on line with your NZ AA club card, once you have it.

Food Along the Way:

  • There is no proliferation of fast food chains. Don’t expect to find a McDonald’s outside of a major metropolitan area.
  • You will find individual cafe’s along the way. We found these ALWAYS to be clean, friendly and predictable.
  • Food seems expensive, but prices include tax and tips.
  • Food choices will include:
    • Toasted sandwiches
    • Meat pies
    • Sweet bakery items
    • Fish and chips
    • Hamburgers (sometimes). Be aware they include a fried egg.  They also sometimes include beetroot and bacon.

Coffee:

  • We never saw a Starbucks.
  • All of the cafes serve the same coffee menu:
    • Flat white – Double shot of espresso with steamed milk. Similar to a latte but with more coffee.
    • Long Black – A double shot of espresso poured over hot water. This is similar to an Americano.
    • Short Black- basic espresso

Tipping:

  • Not required. We were told by a NZ couple that the staff are paid adequately. You only tip for EXCEPTIONAL service.
  • Accommodation:
  • We opted for hotels and vacation rentals that included kitchen facilities.
  • We found that everywhere we stayed, they gave you a pint of milk upon check in. No non-dairy creamer in this country.
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Discounts and Road Service Too!

I am in the process of planning a three month trip to Australia and New Zealand for 2013.  I recently became aware of two memberships that can net substantial discounts.

One is my US Auto Club membership.  We can show our US Auto Club card and obtain roadside assistance and discounts at International Auto Clubs.  This is true in many other countries.  I had no idea when I rented a car in Europe that I could use my Auto Club card.  If you are in the US, check out this site http://exchange.aaa.com/automobiles-travel/international-travel/international-clubs/.  If you are in another country, check with your local auto club for reciprocal agreements.

The second savings tip is to join your country’s Youth Hostel Association.   They also provide discounts on rental cars, tours, attractions, travel insurance and other services.  You don’t have to stay in Youth Hostel’s although you might want to consider checking out my prior blog about Hosteling.

In the US Senior membership  for a year is only $18.00. http://hiusa.org/membership/ways_to_join.  This member ship will save us 40% when we travel from Darwin to Adelaide on the famous Ghan train.  http://www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/site/the_ghan/fares.jsp

site - The Ghan - Main Image April 11

So those are my tips for today.