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A Year Around The World

The Death of Betty White

NEW ZEALAND | Saturday, 24 January 2015 | Views [549]

I’ve always thought that American auto makers benefit greatly from American rental car companies. I’ve never known anyone who actually owns a Chevrolet Sonic or Buick Verano (I don’t think such models even merit TV commercials). Yet rent a car from a company like Budget or Dollar, and you’ll more than likely be tooling around town in one of these generic, ultra-unhip, American made sedans. 


Despite its blandness, the American rental car fleet tends to be low milage and in decent shape. I don’t think I’ve ever rented a car in the U.S. with more than 20,000 miles on it. Such is not the case in New Zealand, at least for cars that cost $25 per day. The car we rented in Christchurch looked like the type of car you’d buy a 16-year-old boy so you’d no longer have to chauffeur him to band practice and his part-time job at Sbarrro, a shabby little boxy hatchback with tiny tires, a broken gas cap, and (as we’d learn several hours into the road trip) a radio that constantly cycled through the stations without ever stopping on any. Due to the 162,000km on her odometer (that’s 101,000 miles to the metrically challenged) and her dirty eggshell like paint job, we immediately dubbed the car “Betty White.” We hoped that like her namesake, our Betty White would be old but strong, at least strong enough to get us around the south island of New Zealand for five weeks.


Alas, our hopes for Betty were not to be realized. As I write this, I am waiting for Betty to be towed back to Christchurch and for a “new” rental car to be delivered. Betty no longer goes in reverse at all, and even when moving forward, she skips gears nearly as often as she skips radio stations.


Though, I am happy to report that New Zealand hasn’t been all busted ankles and blown transmissions. It’s actually been everything I’d hope New Zealand could be, amazing landscapes and friendly people. In a week’s time, we hiked in three National Parks (Abel Tasman, Kahurangi and Nelson Lakes) and swam with Dolphins. Where else can you do that?


So long Betty. You won’t be missed. I just hope your replacement fairs better than Rue McClanahan. 

Tags: abel tasman, dolphins, kahurangi, nelson, new zealand, rental care

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