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car rental

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brooklyn, new york
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car rental

Hi there,

Am traveling with 3 others to Raro in late Oct, coming from the US. We wanted to rent a car but realize that we would need to drive on the opposite side of what we're used to here in the States.

My question is, how difficult is it to switch driving to the opposite side for most people? Will it take me awhile to get used to driving on the opposite side of the road? Or will it only take me about 20 minutes to get the hang of it? And how much traffic/congestion on the roads there? What's the speed limit?

If we don't end up renting car, is it easy enough to get around the island by bus (day and night)? Someone mentioned scooters but I'm worried about our safety on the scooters.

Thanks!!

Joannie

Rarotonga, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland
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1. Re: car rental

Kia Orana Joannie, welcome to the forum.

An introduction to left-side driving is much easier driving on Rarotonga roads compared to bigger countries with greater volumes of traffic. What I suggest you do is delay collection of your vehicle until you have recovered from long-haul flights and become accustomed to the local road conditions and traffic patterns if you are unsure how well you will cope. This would entail arranging a shuttle service through your accommodation, or directly with one of the providers including Tiare Transport or Raro Tours.

The direct LAX flight arrives around 7am (depending on season) on a Monday morning. If you are considering having your rental available at the airport you will exit onto the main road at the time many commuters are heading to work. 8am and again at 4pm is a busy time on the roads around the airport area. Speed limit is 50kph around the airport and outside of the Avarua and Muri localities. These zones are 30kph. Alongside schools when pupils are arriving and departing are also restricted to 30kph, warning signs are put in place at the time during school terms.

For a small island, the bus service is good. The current bus timetable posted to reply #62 on this thread is:- tripadvisor.com/…52982761. Scooters get lots of people moving around, except you cant carry much gear. There is the safety aspect as you have mentioned. Yet scooters remain a very popular form of transport for visitors and residents on Rarotonga.

All the best with your travel plans. Any decision yet on which accommodation you will be staying at on Rarotonga? The less busy areas for traffic are those furtherest away from Avarua township.

Kia manuia.

2. Re: car rental

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Hobart, Australia
Destination Expert
for Vanuatu
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3,547 posts
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3. Re: car rental

How difficult is it to switch driving to the opposite side for most people? I just drove in LA which is bumper to bumper traffic and freeways - I was terrified by the prospect being the other side of the road for me - but it was easy. You just have to keep reminding yourself that your steering wheel has to be in the middle of the road and to be careful when turning off a road into another one.

Seriously it will be a piece of cake in Rarotonga - there is hardly any traffic compared to what you would be used to and there is only one traffic light. The whole island has single lane roads and the speed limit is usually pretty slow. Just make sure you look out for those on bikes

Regards

Suzi

Masterton, New...
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4. Re: car rental

No traffic lights here :) I think they had one many years ago, but it has been long gone.

I wouldn't recommend scooters unless you have ridden them before. Our roads are not the best, and many tourists loose control of them in the loose gravel.

The speed limit here is only 50km per hour around the island (30 through towns) - so compared with the USA I think you will be fine.

Aitutaki, Cook...
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for Aitutaki
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5. Re: car rental

A couple of things to keep in mind when driving here. Watch out for people pulling out of side roads and drive ways. They don't always look to see if anyone is coming. Also, lots of people don't indicate they are going to turn. So the best advise is to always drive defensively. The times when you will have to concentrate on staying left will be when you turn a corner and going around a round-about. As Suzii says, just keep the white line on the drivers side of the car and you won't have a problem.

brooklyn, new york
9 posts
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6. Re: car rental

Thanks everyone, this is very helpful!!

Aitutaki, Cook...
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for Aitutaki
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7. Re: car rental

JW, One other thing, the turn signal and wiper levers will be on the opposite sides of the steering wheel than what you are used to. Whenever I go back and forth to the states, I keep turning on the wipers instead of the turn signals until I get re-acclimated.

Canby, OR
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245 posts
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8. Re: car rental

JW...are you from Bethel, per chance? PM me! We used to live in NY too, and I agree with a previous poster, the big city traffic is far more terrifying than anything you will likely encounter in Raro! What my husband and I do the first day or so til we get acclimated is calm, but vocal "co-piloting". If you can appoint on of your companions that is alert to help by saying, "stay left", or "they will be turning IN FRONT of us" (so you don't turn right because the oncoming car from the left is signaling that they are turning right onto your road!) But it sounds like Raro is the perfect place for an intro to left-side driving! I'm sure the islanders don't even bat an eye at all us crazies driving around in the sun with our windshield wipers on!

brooklyn, new york
9 posts
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9. Re: car rental

vocal co-piloting is a great idea! the 50 kmh sounds very do-able.

nz
Destination Expert
for Norfolk Island, Noosaville, Rarotonga
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10. Re: car rental

Yes, vocal co-piloting is a great idea as long as the driver doesn't think the passenger is back-seat driving! LOL

You'll be fine - but be a bit more vigilant after dark.