We rented a car on the South Island and another car on the North Island. Both times we went with the super dooper deal (i.e. cheapest) for the rental. It meant we were driving old cars with high mileage and tape decks! Despite their lack of media options, these old cars can still hold their own on the mountain roads.
We drove it right out of town and straight on to the steep inclines and declines of the Banks Peninsula. I was navigator/coach and Paul was our brave driver. Our bravery behind the wheel was worth it since it allowed us to go where we wanted to, no matter how off the beaten path it was. We were soon rewarded when we reached a lookout point partway through the drive to Akaroa. This was the point in the trip where we both exhaled and said, "Yes! This is what we had imagined this trip to be like!"
Akaroa! We went to this little town of French origins in order to meet up with our guides/hosts for the next 24 hours. We parked our car, had a lovely picnic at the park and then jumped in to their 4WD drive to begin the next part of the adventure!