The Expressway

After finishing up my 3 nights in Raglan I was on the road again, but for much different pastures – next stop was Hamilton.

Hamilton has a reputation it seems of being ‘boring’ to New Zealanders. I came for the main purpose of having my car serviced. Every 6 months a car has to undergo a Warrant of Fitness inspection to ensure it is still drivable on New Zealand roads. This is your typical service inspection – tire treadlife, brakes, drive belts, safety system, those sorts of things are all checked. As I’d had the car for 4 months and 7,000km by now I also got an oil & filter change. Who knows when it was completed last.

The car passed all inspections without a problem, but they unfortunately wouldn’t fix my cigarette adapter easily – they figured it would be an hour’s labour to get the console out and such. Well more than $20, which was the limit I set on getting that thing fixed. Oh well, I haven’t gotten too lost without my GPS, yet.

Then it was time to explore Hamilton. First I wanted to find a place to stay in the city. Only there was a problem – Hamilton apparently hates backpackers or something. There is ONE hostel in the entire city, and no relatively decent priced camping options nearby. New Zealand is a great country to backpack around normally – numerous hostel options are found in all but the smallest, out of the way towns, and camping has been relatively easy to find as well (I camped in Raglan, Waitomo and Taupo with ease). Yet here in Hamilton, nothing. This is New Zealand’s 4th largest city. Baffling.

Having found such an unwelcoming feel to the city, I instead took my money and drove 90 minutes north to Auckland via New Zealand’s only major divided highway.

New Zealand doesn’t really understand at times how expressways work, at least not yet. The expressway would often start and stop, going back to single lanes in sections, adding stoplights and such. Closer to Auckland it finally stayed a freeway, but up until then it just felt uncompleted. A little bit of research seems to indicate that is just the case – the highway is in progress of being twinned. I imagine the drive time (ignoring traffic issues) would be quite a bit faster (20-30 minutes I bet) once complete. Still, I wasn’t in a rush anyways.

And then the traffic slowed to a crawl. I was quickly reminded why I dislike driving in Auckland. Much like Canadian cities, New Zealand simply doesn’t know how to handle large volumes of people. Auckland is laid out horrifically for driving, and it shows that the city came to be by joining numerous other small towns, all with their own ideas of proper ways to lay down streets. As a result, the city is a nightmare. After getting to my hostel I happily parked my car, where it shall remain for the next several days. I’ll just walk. It’s a very enjoyable city to explore by foot.

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