Me and My Car: Kiwis for Kiwi's Michelle Impey
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Michelle Impey is executive director of national kiwi conservation charity Kiwis for Kiwi, and she drives a Mazda CX-5 Kiwimobile
Tell us about your kiwimobile … It’s a 2016, six-gear automatic transmission Mazda CX-5 and has a beautiful kiwi wrap on it.
Mazda Foundation supports our trust, providing the kiwimobile plus one other CX-5 for another staff member. I chose the CX-5 because they wouldn’t let me have an MX5. (Kidding.) I love the versatility of having a midsize SUV that is easy to park, has good fuel economy and is fun to drive. It’s also small enough that I can rack my surf ski on it without a step ladder. It is big enough to load up with the people, equipment and occasionally endangered wildlife that I need to transport. And the 4WD allows me to go into project areas that require something more rugged than a sedan.
The reversing camera; the hatchback’s rubber mat that lifts out and can be easily cleaned; and the hands-free Bluetooth options that allow me to safely listen to music or talk on the phone while I’m driving.
I’ve added kayak cradles and sports racks to transport my surf ski and my partner’s waka. There is also a trailer ball for my bike rack. It’s an impressive sight when it’s loaded with two boats on the roof and two bikes on the back.
Who else drives your car?
Other staff from Kiwis for kiwi. My partner, as well.
Do you prefer SUVs over sedans/hatchbacks?
Yeah, I do. In an SUV you are sitting that wee bit higher in traffic than in a sedan (for visibility reasons) and I just find it a bit more practical for my lifestyle.
How often do you clean it?
Every two to three weeks, more often if needed. The beautiful wrap hides a multitude of sins and I think a bit of dust adds to the authenticity of it being used to access conservation areas.
What do you keep in your car?
USB phone charger; tie-downs for the roof racks; menu in the glovebox for my favourite local Indian takeaways for the spontaneous driving-home-can’t-be-bothered-to-cook nights; a pair of sunnies; yoga mat; and Jandals.
Most memorable road trip?
I had a superb trip in the winter to go mountain biking and hiking with a couple of girlfriends. The kiwimobile was loaded up with chilly bins, cycling gear and three bikes on the back. We started with a ride in the Hunua Ranges, then picked up a friend in Cambridge, on to Rotorua for a ride in the redwoods, and then over to Raglan the next day to hike up Mt Karioi.
Who taught you to drive?
I’m the youngest of five kids, so my parents and my brothers all had a part in teaching me. I grew up on a farm so we started at a young age sitting on our dad’s knee and just steering the wheel while he worked the pedals, all of this at about 10km/h. I got my full licence when I turned 16 — on the actual day. Growing up in a small town, your licence is your freedom.
If you could take a road trip anywhere in the world?
I would love to do a road trip through Eastern Europe with my partner. My mum’s family emigrated from Hungary to Canada and his father’s family from Croatia. It would be a meaningful trip to visit the homeland of our ancestors. It would be in something sporty and fast, so maybe back to that Mazda MX5.
Favourite movie car scene?
The final scene in Thelma and Louise but — as weird as it sounds — under the influence of my partner’s 5-year old grandson, I’ve seen Cars a million times. There are great scenes in that movie.
Great day trip out of Auckland? The west coast and Waitakere Ranges. In less than half an hour you’re into an incredible wild rugged landscape with heaps of options for getting into the outdoors.
If you could change one road rule?
This may be Auckland-focused, but I would love to see more dedicated commuter lanes for people with two or more passengers in their vehicle. It would encourage more people to carpool and would help keep traffic moving. It works in other countries.