New Zealand: Where Driving Left is Right
As you may know, people in New Zealand, Australia, and on many Pacific Islands
drive on the left side of the road... or as Americans refer to it, the Wrong side
of the road. Although
I had driven a rental car in Rarotonga for a day, I was still a little uneasy about
driving on the left side. The cars are screwy too: you tend to get in on the passenger
side, the steering wheel is on the right side
of the car, which feels pretty strange, and the turn signal and windshield wiper
levers are exactly opposite of where you'd expect to find them..
As I was driving my Corolla down the streets of Auckland, I kept turning on
my windshield wipers before making a turn. Aucklanders are probably used
to this, though, and when they see this, I'm sure they snicker to themselves, "There goes another dumb
American." Also the slow lane is the left lane, which
feels a bit strange.
Despite all this, though, I arrived safely 30
minutes later at The Amberley, the Bed-and-Breakfast in Devonport north of
Auckland where I had made reservations.
Most countries in the world have right-side driving, although England and many former English colonies,
such as Australia, New
Zealand, and Hong Kong have left-side driving. Why do some countries have
left-side driving and others right-side driving? From what I've learned,
left-side driving had its beginnings back in the days of King Arthur when
jousting knights, carrying their weapons in their right hands, would pass to the
left of each other. Right-hand driving had its beginnings in Pennsylvania
in the 1790s on one of the first toll roads in the U.S.
of how it got started,
driving on the left side of the road isn't that big of a deal and I've gotten
pretty used to it. I don't even think about it anymore. Of course,
that's when old habits take over and accidents happen.
Above left: Clearing customs in Auckland was
Above center: Then
it was on to Easy Rentals, where I rented this Corolla from Sigit. I've
gotten used to driving on the left side and haven't had any accidents... yet.
Above right: Before I committed on the rental
car, though, I wanted to check out the Auckland Car Fair. I was hoping to
purchase a single-cab pickup here, like my truck in the U.S. But, as I
discovered, there are very few single-cab pickups in New Zealand.
Travels (2001-02) >
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New Zealand and Cook Island Stories > New
Zealand: Where Driving Left is Right