Tuesday, 18 April 2017:
First proper day in Auckland and we’ve discovered a few quirks about New Zealand, primarily related to road traffic incidents.
Crossing a road here feels like Pacman is going to come out from a side road and eat me. When the pedestrian man goes green, an arcade gaming sound familiar only to the fat yellow blob formally known as Pacman, seems to sound, followed swiftly by a countdown clock which makes seconds go by faster than seconds go by in England. Maybe it’s the time difference…it is ahead here. For more dad jokes, read on. All I know is if I were an old lady named Doris crossing a road in New Zealand with a zimmerframe, it would quite possibly be the last road I (tried to) cross.
The next subject on the agenda for today is parking.
Parking, parking, parking. Where to begin?
This has been my favourite quirk so far. Today we picked up our Jucy car rental, sadly not in Jucy theme colour (snot green) but we have a wonderfully feminist Jucy slogan sticker on our windscreen, so there is that at least.
After picking up the car, we parked it outside our place of residence. The parking meter advised us to pay via text message, so we reluctantly left the car without a pay and display ticket and went up to the apartment. An hour later, after unsuccessful attempts to pay for parking via phone, we came down to the car to try a credit card. Unfortunately we arrived to a parking ticket. Great. First day, first fine. Haere mai!
Curiously, upon unravelling the parking ticket, we found that we hadn’t been fined for not paying and displaying. Our parking offence was for a crime much worse than this. We’d ruined the appearance of kerbside parking!! Allow me to explain: in New Zealand, when parking, it is an offence to park facing in an opposite direction to the flow of traffic! Taking neat and orderly conduct to the next level, New Zealand road user regulations require that drivers park facing the nose of their vehicle, in the direction of car travel. I looked around at all the other cars on the roadside on my side and the opposite, sure enough, all beautifully synchronised and facing the same direction. I thought it was a little military but also quite a stunning kerbside treat. Everyone had parked facing the same way and there I was from Yorkshire, ruining it all!
Lessons from day one: walk fast crossing the road when you’ve got a green man because he disappears faster than Mr Rabbit and park neatly, or pay $40NZD for the pleasure.