Ed: Feb/March 2013

I have to admit to chuckling to myself when I hear Kiwis moaning about traffic conditions, particularly out-of-towners heading to Auckland.

When you’ve driven a car (driven, not been driven!) in Mumbai, New York, Bangkok, Cairo or London, then you’ll really know what traffic is. To my mind, we get off rather lightly.

Take, for instance, the recent eight-day national holiday in China. By 4pm on the first day of the holiday, some 85 million travellers had taken to the highways. That’s a scary statistic – we don’t even have that many sheep, let alone people!

I know some of you find it frustrating to leave Auckland for the beach house, only to arrive there hot, bothered and ill-tempered because of traffic congestion, hours later than what you had intended.

Perhaps it’s just a case of planning your departure time a little better – personally, I love setting off on the road at 3 or 4am when there isn’t a car in sight and I have the motorway to myself. I turn the music up loud and sing along – and, yes, the kids have slept through my awful caterwauling!

You could also take the route less travelled if you do intend to head off in peak traffic periods.

You may end up travelling more in distance, but you’re likely to get there in the same amount of time, and you’ll certainly be less frazzled! Plus, the added bonus is that you’ll get to see a new part of the country, and you may even find a great spot to stop along the way.

Travel isn’t always about the destination – Kiwis need to learn to enjoy the journey, too! We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the world. Why on earth would you just be interested in getting from A-B in the fastest possible time frame? You’re missing so much – vistas and lookout points that foreigners pay a fortune in airfares to be able to see.

Another gripe that I have are the number of New Zealanders who think nothing of heading off on their Big OE, when they have never left their town or city, never travelled to the “other” island. Why would you want to ski Europe before Queenstown or Whakapapa? Why climb Mt Everest before Mt Cook? Why sail the Med before you’ve set foot in the beautiful Bay of Islands?

Seems to me, Kiwis are taking their backyard beauty for granted. Let’s all make 2013 the year that we aim to visit and explore at least one new area within our own country, even if it’s just a weekend getaway. You’ll have new adventures to relay, new family capers to laugh about and you’ll certainly be doing a lot for the local economy!

Safe travels.

“The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognise you as a tourist.” (Russell Baker: August 14, 1925 – )

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