Date: 2006-08-06 22:54:00

After almost exactly four months after we moved into our flat in april and returned our rental car, we are finally the owners of a white 1993 Honda Civic hatchback! We bought it at an auction on thursday evening. Unlike most used cars here, it was originally sold new here in New Zealand (instead of Japan), has had only one owner, and came with complete service records. There are some minor problems like the idle speed seems set too fast, but we're still really happy with it.

Today we took the car for a bit of a spin to see how well it does on a road trip. We drove up to Hanmer Springs, had some lunch, did one of the local forest walks, drove out toward Kaikoura, stopped at Mt. Lyford Lodge to check it out as a possible wedding venue, arrived in Kaikoura, drove around to try to find a place to eat (not much was open on sunday evening), had some wedges and a steak sandwich, found we needed to fill up the car, but found the local service station closed already.

Heading back toward Christchurch along highway 1, we got further and further into the middle of nowhere without a gas station, or even a town, in sight. It was only about 6pm, but we were running out the scenarios in our heads about what we would do if we did run out of gas. Finally we made it to Cheviot where the only gas station in town was already closed, but we managed to locate the owner who kindly opened it up just so we could fill up! It's easy to take for granted the ability to pull into any gas station on any highway at any time and still be able to fill up. So, lessons learned: (1) Our car goes not much more than about 400 km on a tank of gas. (2) Fill up when you can. (3) Fill up before 5pm.

I think we mostly got out today just because we could. While the bus service here is quite good and we'll continue to use it, getting around anywhere outside of town really requires a car. We think we got a good deal on a good car and we just wanted to see some more of the country. It was overcast the whole day so we didn't get to see the tops of the mountains, but the bits of scenery we did see were very good.

[info]edm : Honda Civic milage
FWIW, my Honda Civic (1991, but otherwise looks the same as your picture) will do a bit over 500km on a tank of petrol. To be precise I've driven from Wellington to Hamilton (530km) on a tank of petrol. Although that was starting from a completely topped up tank (as in "Fill" on the petrol pump, stopping only when it wouldn't take any more), and it was nearly empty by the time I got there. I figure maybe 550km total, and that's highway milage.

But as you say, the East Coast of the South Island is somewhat short on petrol stations, especially ones open on Sunday afternoon/evening. I remember my family having a similar "I wonder if we'll make it" trip down from Picton to Christchurch one year after discovering one too many petrol stations were already closed (we did, but it was a close thing). Fill up when you can is de rigeur in long distance driving in New Zealand (and Australia AFAIK).


PS: Re the idle, you are aware the car has a manual choke, which needs to be pulled out to start it, but pushed back in after the engine has run a while? Idling fast is the most obvious indicator that the engine is warm enough to run without the choke.
[info]ghewgill : Re: Honda Civic milage
Yeah, it sounds reasonable that it could do more than 400 on a tank. We hadn't filled it up completely (I usually just stop when the pump stops the first time), it was still reading a bit above E when we did stop, and it wasn't all highway driving (ie. we went part way up to Mt. Lyford on the way).

I didn't really mention the whole story about the fast idle. Our car has an automatic choke, and the idle returns to normal once the water temperature gauge indicates above a certain temperature. The weird thing is, the water temperature gauge only goes up when the car is stopped. When it's moving, it eventually goes down again. If you stop when it's reading low, it idles too fast again. It's pretty weird and we're going to have somebody look at it.
(anonymous) : Re: Honda Civic milage
Doesn't that imply a whacked out thermostat? Or an electric fan that's always on? Not to digress but does it have emissions equipment on it? Catalytic converter and the like?
[info]ghewgill : Re: Honda Civic milage
Yeah, the thermostat is almost certainly whacked out in some way. Not sure about emissions but I suspect it does.
What are the gas prices like there, and why the scarcity of gas stations? Is owning a car a rarity?
The gas prices are about NZ$1.80 per litre. At the current exchange rate, that works out to about US$4.20 per gallon. I think the scarcity of gas stations along that particular road was just due to the scarcity of towns. It's a pretty sparsely populated area, and the people who do run gas stations don't want to attend to them 24h a day. There's no credit-card-pay-at-the-pump except at some places in larger cities. New Zealanders actually have a high rate of car ownership despite the gas prices, probably due to the low cost of imported cars themselves.
Apparently there are more cars than people who can drive them. Oh, the kiwis love their cars. I was shocked to find that there were so few gas stations and that they were closed on sunday after, say 4pm, but that's what I love about this country.... It is a little bit USA circa 1950.
Greg Hewgill <>