As we hit the three-month anniversary of our life here in Wellington, I'm happy to report I can back up without feeling like I have to look over my right shoulder, signal my intent to turn instead of turning on my windshield wipers and ride in the slow (left-hand) lane on the highway without too much anxiety. These are all relatively recent developments.
For our first two months here, I got into the passenger's seat every time I went to drive the car. Embarrassing yes, but it was a good reminder that I needed to be alert and not just drive on auto-pilot. Situationally, I still do it though: after filling up at the gas station and whenever I have passengers other than my family in the car (embarrassing for me, and probably alarming for those passengers.)
I also had difficulty trusting what I was seeing in the rear-view mirror or over my left-hand shoulder: instead I had to look over my right-hand shoulder and crank all the way around. Not great for city driving by any stretch, but that was exactly what we were thrown into. Our residence hotel was smack in the middle of downtown Wellington, with the craziest parking in the world (a one-way, glass-railing cantilevered ramp 6 stories above the ground).
After years of predicting I would meet my doom because of my wife's "directional ambiguity" (credit here to 4kiwiwannabes for the phrase) I've developed the same problem here. In order to drive on the "wrong" side I've had to mentally mirror everything, so for some reason at times I still think of the easy left-hand turn (not having to cross traffic) as a "right". I'm sure she is relishing my confusion while appreciating the horror I've felt in the past.
Parking lots and gas stations are where I am most likely to revert to driving on the old side of the road: there's a lot to juggle with one-way directions and looking for spots, and for some reason it feels more familiar than other driving situations. Again it's good that I get in the wrong side first, to remind me of what I'm doing.
On the bright side, I've gone from being really frustrated and annoyed at the "right of way" rule (turning right from the left-hand lane, across traffic when a car from the other direction is turning the same way) to appreciating the beauty of it. The phrase makes more sense here, to me at least. I've also learned to appreciate the complexities of the roundabout, which make doubling back after a missed turn almost effortless. The city and suburbs are lousy with them, so we get a lot of practice.
Which is all really just to say we're ready for company to arrive, so we can take you for a spin!