What drives, New Zealand?
Two worlds apart: NZ vs. UK
New Zealand and England couldn’t be geographically further apart – but what sets them apart even more is the automotive culture.
Not much is known about the small, isolated Pacific island at the bottom of the globe – the general consensus is that it’s inhabited by hobbits, we are the classier version of Australians and well, we are the best at the rugby in the world.
New Zealand culture is largely inherited from British and European custom – yet Kiwis seem to be in a world of their own when it comes to cars.
What gives New Zealand? Well a few things. New Zealand has the highest level of car ownership in the world. With a low population density there is little scope for mass public transport outside the main centres. There are 15 people per sq.km in New Zealand, whereas in the UK we are looking 243 people. Another frightening fact is the population of NZ is not even half of the population of London alone.
Auckland for example is a huge city, however unlike Great Britain our transportation system lacks, well, any sort of system. If you catch a train to work, I would also advise to take a half-day off. Low-investment in public transport means delays, delays and more delays.
Wage levels are low by Western standards, however cars on the whole are a lot cheaper so they are easily affordable – you would be hard pressed to find a Kiwi who does not own a car.
New Zealand, although a quiet nation has a very noisy problem, we have a thriving boy racer community. Illegal street racing is so common that we even have anti-boy racer laws – it is illegal to provoke “sustained loss of traction” (a wheel spin) however despite efforts made by local authorities, burning rubber and skid marks in inner city areas is not uncommon.
Despite the dangers involved with boy racing, we have a mass of custom-made cars on the road that, despite not being road worthy, are certainly interesting to look at.
“She’ll be all right mate”
Kiwis have always been pioneers when it comes to make-shift solutions, whether it be a flat tire, broken windscreen or even a broken door. Want to lower your car? Well why not just remove the coil springs and let the tyres wear out on the inner wings. If that is too low you can always jam some rocks where the coils used to be. Is the seating a little hard? ‘Stuff a bit of hay under the seat chair, mate.’ Broken air con? No worries mate.
Headlights broken? No dramas
Supercars are a rarity in any country – however if you are spotted driving a Maserati in New Zealand, you are either an ‘Aucklander’ or ‘Not from around here mate’. According to a recent study, only 45% of Kiwis buy a car based on its appearance. And 49% of Kiwis consider cars that reflect their personalities. Not surprisingly fuel economy ranks high with 73% of Kiwis considering how far a car will go on a litre of gas as part of their buying checklist.
New Zealand has come a long way since 1898 when the first petrol car was introduced. Since then a great Kiwi love affair with motoring began. While our automotive culture may differ from that of Great Britain, we are certainly a nation of petrol heads with a very healthy curiosity for the world of cars.
Also, on behalf of Tourism NZ, without a vehicle one would not be able to visit some of the most beautiful locations in the land of the long white cloud.
*It should also be noted this piece was written by an adopted New Zealander – therefore the views expressed may not necessarily reflect that of the organisation- in particular, I am referring to All Blacks being the best rugby team in the world.