So here are some tips to help keep you on your journey…
1: Big tides make for dangerous beach driving
Your Hitch insurance will be void as soon as you drive on any beach and you may be liable for the value of the vehicle. This is due to parts of many beach roads in NZ being completely underwater at high and even mid tide. From personal experience I know it’s amazingly, amazingly easy to get cut off. The government here expects any drivers foolhardy enough to use beach roads to at the very least know the tides. The government also only advises beach driving if you have a 4×4, and a recommendation for these people would be to let your tires down a little for extra traction/float. Hitch rents out AWD SUV’s but not full differential lock 4×4’s which are the only vehicles which can cope with beach driving. Additionally, many roads here, such as the Ahipara peninsular, actually become cut off as far as 2 hours either side of high, and for even longer on spring tides. Making getting stuck an inevitability at the right time of day. A lesson that the writer learned the difficult and very wet way.
2: Wash your brakes after contact with sand.
Again, your Hitch insurance will be void as soon as you drive on any beach, however if you do come into contact with sand, for example on carparks near beaches, make sure to give your breaks a good wash at the end of the day. Volcanic minerals in much of the sand here is incredibly corrosive to brake pads, and if left will cause brake failure or at least a reduction in braking ability. This is why you’ll see 4×4 owners washing their brake pads at service stations near beach roads!
3: …Just don’t drive on the beach.
You may be coming to the conclusion by now that driving on the beach is a bad idea. It is. And as stated your Hitch insurance will be void. In fact it’s such a common occurrence to get stuck, that most beach drivers pack a couple of spare planks of wood and a spade. In the ridiculously likely event of getting beached (stuck in the sand), it helps them to dig a space for the planks either side of the stuck wheels – for them to roll onto, providing traction and non-sinking-ness.
4: Water and petrol up.
Although not as savage as Australia, NZ has long stretches of unpopulated hazardous terrain. Where petrol stations close for no foreseeable reason and tap water is nowhere to be found. If driving on particularly remote stretches of road, just take some extra gallons of liquid fuel for you and the motor. Gerry cans and 5litre water containers can be bought at service stations and supermarkets like Pak n Save.
5: Keep lane discipline.
On some of the best, winding roads in NZ like the Otira Highway you’ll also find cops. They really love to hang out on the most stunning roads in NZ, who wouldn’t? They’re there ready to catch you and fine you for driving dangerously, or even spiritedly. Stick to your lane religiously and drive under the generous speed limit on these kinds of roads if you want to avoid numerous fines.
6: Keep your coolant topped up.
NZ can get really hot and really cold, and so can your engine, especially when driving up steep terrain under heavy load and at altitude. Make sure to keep your coolant topped up so it can keep its temperature regulated, otherwise it’s easy to blow a head gasket or stuff the engine. You do have breakdown cover but blowing up your care will likely make you a little delayed, as well as potentially cost you some dollars in excess. Coolant can be bought from almost any service station inexpensively, and checked via the coolant reservoirs min and max lines. To locate this check your cars handbook under ‘Coolant reservoir’ or ‘coolant’.
7: Check your tire pressure after long drives or high altitudes.
Low tire pressure will ruin your fuel economy but can also easily lead to punctures. Despite the notion of baloons popping when they’re too full, car tires get punctured far more easily when they are deflated. There can also be problems with overinflation. The easiest way to fix this is to simply check your tire pressure at a service station and compare results to what the handbook says they ought to be. If needed top up. They can get deflated after entering high altitudes or just after long drives, and it’s an easy fix to avoid the hassle of a blow out.
We hope this guide will help you avoid the common driving pitfalls in NZ and enable you a smooth driving experienced filled with wonder and delight. As the saying goes, look after your car and it will look after you. That’s the Hitch Car Rentals way. If you have any issues just call 0800 93 95 03 or your breakdown cover number, which will be given to you upon collecting your Hitch car.