New Zealand Nuance #6: The perils of crossing the road

In New Zealand if you are within 20 metres of a crossing and you don’t use it, you are guilty of the crime of jaywalking, the penalty for which is a $35 fine. If you are at a crossing and the pedestrian light is red and you cross anyway, you’re jaywalking. If you cross the road diagonally, you’re jaywalking. It’s rarely enforced but it’s probably a good idea to check you’re not being watched by a police officer before you leave the pavement, particularly in the city.

In Waikanae Beach there are no official crossings so you just step into the road and make your way to the other side safe in the knowledge that you won’t get busted for jaywalking. But that’s not to say you don’t need to be careful, particularly if you are used to crossing roads in the UK. New Zealand roads are WIDE, far wider than roads in England and so crossing them as an English pedestrian is deceptively difficult as it takes you longer than you think to get from one side to the other. Even after checking left, right and then left again, and substantiating with some degree of confidence that the road is clear in both directions, you can guarantee that the moment your foot leaves the kerb, you’ll find a large ute bearing down on you, the driving wearing an expression of incredulity as they swerve to avoid you and your badly miscalculated jaunt across the tarmac.

Apologies, New Zealand drivers. I’ll get use to your wide roads soon, I promise.


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