Driving along in my automobile.
I highly suggest staying away from the roads if you come to New Zealand (just kidding). They will let anyone drive here, even Americans. All I had to do was show that I had a US driver's license and I was allowed to hit the open road. They didn't give any instructions or even mention that they drive on the left here. Of course, I don't think we tell people we drive on the right in the US. Hopefully, you just figure those things out. I've driven on the left in Bermuda before, but I was still worried to be heading five hours north to Picton.
The coast just outside Kaikoura.
When I first got the vehicle, I just kept telling myself drive on the left and right equals frights because driving on the right would be bad and I need to be careful on right turns. I managed to run a few errands and then make it out of the city center without any excitement. I then set off on the highway which isn't like highways in the US. They had a small stretch of 4 lane highway just outside of Christchurch, but most of the highways that I've been on the South Island are just two lane roads. They go right through towns and force you to slow down. They are really windy if they are in the hills or mountains. They have passing areas galore to allow you to get around someone. It was a little weird, but I think I like it. It keeps each town linked up and they aren't building extra roads just to gain a few extra minutes time by skipping a small village or city.
The scenery on the roads was fantastic and the hills were pleasant enough that I think it would make for fabulous bike touring. I'm a little worried about the cars using the same road as their major artery, but I'm sure it works just fine. At least to other cars, the drivers were really friendly. The first part of the drive had me cutting through rolling pastures. For the second part, I was against the coastline and could see snow capped mountains in the background. I finished out the day going past more lush green rolling hills before arriving in Picton where I'd spend the night. For future reference, it is cheaper to take the bus than to drive yourself and only takes a little more time. However, having the freedom to explore a little is definitely worth the extra cost.
This duck walked right up to me like I owed him a levy for using his park bench.
The town of Picton didn't inspire me in the twelve short hours I was there. I was tired and just wanted to sleep. However, the scenery around the area excited me. The harbor reminded me of Maine, but it was a lot warmer and sunnier than Maine is right now. They also have the Queen Charlotte Track which is a multi-day hike or bike along the coast line. I might head back there at some point to do it.
Picton Harbor where the ferry picks you up to go to the North Island.