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New Zealand Trip Report - 24th May 2013 to 7th June 2013

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New Zealand Trip Report - 24th May 2013 to 7th June 2013

First and foremost, i wish to thank all who had taken the time to advise me while i was planning the trip. As such, in return, i thought it is best to write a short trip report for the benefit of others. I am not particularly good in writing - so, please pardon any mistake you may spot as you read on :-

Day 1 24th May 2013

We set out early morning to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. It was unusually packed – I guess because people had been putting off their travel plans due to the uncertainty over the election dates in Malaysia. Now that it is out of the way, travelling has gone on a full swing. Bag dropped and we had a quick bite at the airport lounge. Soon, we were on the flight bound for Auckland. After a few movies and two meals, we were ready to touch down. We spent the night at Novotel Airport Hotel.

Day 2 25th May 2013

Rise and shine – just strolled across the road to catch a shuttle bus to the local airport – it was a breeze and soon we were on Jetstar bound for Queenstown. Caught up with sleep on the flight and voila, we arrived in no time. Got our vehicle from Hertz and found our way to Oaks Club Resort, our home for the next four days. First stop, lunch and then to Queenstown Skyline Gondola as the place will be closed down in the next few days for maintenance. The ride up the Gondola offered spectacular view and the kids had a great time riding the luge. The weather was bright and sunny. Next, we headed to Fresh Choice to stock up some snacks and drinks

Day 3 26th May 2013

Since the road leading to Milford Sound was closed, we took the Doubtful Sound trip instead. We woke up to a cold and rainy morning – not the perfect weather for an outing. At 705am, we were up and waiting for the coach from Real Journey to pick us up. After 2 hours of riding in semi darkness, we reached the jetty at Lake Manapouri – boarded a ferry to take us across the lake in 45 minutes; transferred to another bus and then onward to another ferry that takes us to Doubtful Sound. The dark and looming skies didn’t seem to be the perfect condition for photos – took a lot of “grey pictures”. But apparently, the waterfall is at its best with the bountiful rainfall. Anyway, inspite of the strong winds, it was quite a pleasant ride except when the ferry approaches the Tasman Sea. The highlight of the trip was when the ferry edged its way to a waterfall and handed paper cups for passengers to catch the falling water. Some went all out to get the drink and was drenched! After 3 hours, we were at the jetty again and a coach took us to a nearby power station for a quick tour before boarding another ferry and then a coach for our ride home. It was a pity we did not see any wildlife

Day 5 28th May 2013

Woke up to see snow fall and the hills across the apartment were a pretty sight. It was definitely a surprise to see so thick a snow at this time - May 2013. The boys were so excited – they went on to roll around in the snow, threw snow balls at each other. The driveway was filled with snow and the workers were busy shovelling. I called up Hertz to ask if it was necessary to fit the snow chains, but they advised us not to travel far because the snow chain wouldn’t help much either. So, there goes our Glenorchy plans….stayed indoor and ate our supplies and watched TV. Later in the afternoon, we decided to try our luck and drown to the town nearby. It was a pretty sight with snow everywhere. We walked round the lake, did some shopping and grabbed a bite. The snowfall stopped just then – so we decided to drive to Glenorchy which is just an hour drive away. The view was amazing – but it was very cold and windy – basically the town seem deserted. We were just glad we managed to do some sightseeing from the car

Day 6 29th May 2013

After breakfast, we left for Lake Tekapo. The drive past Lindis Pass was amazing. We stopped by Mt Cook Alpine Salmon for some fresh salmon picnic by Lake Pukaki. Next, we headed to do some touristy stuff – paid a visit Church of the Good Shepherd and the Mt John Observatory just before dark. After checking in into Lake Tekapo Scenic Resort which is just by the lake, we took a walk to the nearby shops and eateries. My hubby, in particular was so happy to find Chinese food after missing it for a couple of days

Day 7 30th May 2013

Checked out after breakfast at 10am and headed to Mt Cook. It was an easy 1.5 hour drive and needless to say, the view was simply amazing. We checked in into Aoraki Court Motel which is right in front of the village – a clean and new place. Dropped our bags and went to check out the Tasman Glacier. We drove a good 8km to a carpark and thereafter, it was about 30mins walk uphill. Some parts were quite tricky with the ice in the path but boy, when we reached the peak, it was an amazing sight to behold -the Tasman Glacier still intact on the left and we could see blocks of glacier floating on the lake. After, some exercise, we were ready to dig in into some nice warm food but there are not many places to dine at Mt Cook. We headed to a cafe at Hermitage Hotel and bought whatever pies and pastries they have on sale. We blissfully munched in the café overlooking some beautiful mountains. But when night came, it was pitch dark.

Day 8 31st May 2013

We made our descent from Mt Cook and back tracked where we came from, passing Lindis Pass. It was a different scene as the snow had melted, giving way to dash of yellow and red leaves/grass on the way. We stopped by another salmon farm but the fish were too quick for me to get a good picture. Upon reaching Wanaka, we took the kids to the Puzzling World since we didn't do any else exciting like skydiving

Day 9 1st June 2013

We set off very early on this day - even though it was only 286km to get from Wanaka to Franz Josef, it is not an easy road to travel. The sceneries changed from snow capped mountains to rain forests as we travelled through Haast Pass. The roads were winding and rain poured on and off throughout the whole day. There were very few places to eat along the way and we were glad we seized the opportunity to eat when an eatery came along. It took us close to 6 hours to complete the journey and by the time, we got there - all glacier walks were closed ( apparently, all activities were suspended that day due to the rain)

Day 10 2nd June 2013

Today we set off on the last leg of our Southern Island journey, travelling from Franz Josef to Greymouth. We returned our car and boarded the TranzAlpine, touted to be truly one of the world’s great scenic train trips through the dramatic contrast of dry beech forests and tussock land on one side of the Alps and lush green landscapes on the other. From Greymouth, we moved through sub tropical rain forest past beautiful Lake Brunne and emerged from the long Otira Tunnel. Then, after stopping at Arthur's Pass (the wind was so strong, that it stopped me on my tracks) , we climbed into alpine scenery on a series of spectacular viaducts following the Waimakariri river before we cross the patchwork farmland of the Canterbury plains. We stayed a night at Christchurch before flying off the following morning to Wellington

Day 11 3rd June 2013

Took a very early flight (645am) into Wellington - after a good breakfast, we proceeded to Zealandia, a conservation effort for native animals in NZ. Later in the afternoon, we strolled along the waterfront, heading towards Te Papa museum (must go). Wellington is a very compact city and it is so not happening at night

Day 12 June 4th 2013

With nothing planned, we drove aimlessly round the city and went up to Mt Victoria for a panaromic view of the city. As it rained in the afternoon, we spent some time in another museum , Museum of Wellington City and Sea. Spent the evening in a supermarket, marvelling at the selection of fruits and vegetables

Day 13 5th June 2013

We left Wellington early morning for a 422km journey up north. It was an easy drive as there were a lot of small towns on the way in which we could stop for a coffee break. Didn't take many photos as i was the one behind the wheels while the rest were snoring away. One place i would have loved to snap a pic was when we passed through Desert Road. The place was shrouded in mist and was somewhat mystical. We stopped by Taupo for lunch at a Thai restaurant. Somehow, Asian food tasted SO good. We pressed on and reached Wai-O-Tapu, giving us a good 2 hours to make a quick walk before their closing time.

Day 14 6th June 2013

A trip to Agrodome was much anticipated by the kids. Very touristy but it has all that you need to see in a farm in 2 -3 hours. Then, we made our way back to Auckland. It was already late evening by the time we reach Auckland. Had a quick dinner, freshen up and drove around town. I find Auckland more happening than Wellington - at least there are folks still walking around at 10pm. And some supermarkets stay open round the clock.

Day 15 7th June 2013

The following morning, we checked out after breakfast and set off to see what the city has to offer. Then we headed to Auckland Fish Market - not as interesting as i thought it would be, but at least, i got to eat bluff oyster - at last! Next on the agenda is Auckland Zoo - the kids were adamant in wanting to see a kiwi before they leave New Zealand. We count ourselves pretty lucky when we spotted one in a dark enclosure. By late evening, our craving for Chinese food got the better of us - luckily we manage to find one which lives up to our expectation. After a yummy last meal in Auckland,we headed to the airport. We had a fantastic holiday, but i guess there is nothing like home - i was actually looking forward to going home and digging into some local food

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1. Re: New Zealand Trip Report - 24th May 2013 to 7th June 2013

Hi WLC, you write a very good report with some great detail. It is a lovely read, thank you.

If you were advising a friend planning a trip here, would you suggest they do anything different from your itinerary?

Kuala Lumpur...
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2. Re: New Zealand Trip Report - 24th May 2013 to 7th June 2013

Thank you WLnz - you have been one of those who were patiently guiding me with the itinerary as before.

Well, i didn't regret the bit about passing Lindis Pass twice - it is an amazing drive. Would have loved to cut one night off Lake Tekapo and pressed on to Mt Cook, but it was winter and it was dark by the time we finished checking out the church, and the Mt John Observatory. We could have gone to Mt Cook first ( spend 2 nights there, allowing more time for other treks) and at the end of the two nights, check out Lake Tekapo and Mt John.

Secondly, the drive from Wanaka to Franz Josef - is tough, especially on rainy days - dull, gloomy - stop when there is a place to stop - else there are some stretches which are really long and you can't stop to stretch your legs. I went that stretch because i wanted to experience the train ride from Greymouth to Franz Josef. But for those who are going to Franz Josef for the glacier hikes, spare 2 nights - because the hikes are weather dependent.

Well, guess it is a case of "been there, done that". New Zealand is a place that I would love going back to -it's my second visit in 15 years! I hope i will have the luxury of spending more time in each place instead of rushing through the next time i visit.

Edited: 27 June 2013, 02:29
Kuala Lumpur...
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3. Re: New Zealand Trip Report - 24th May 2013 to 7th June 2013

Oops - sorry - the train ride should be from Greymouth to Christchurch.

The last para should read " luxury of time"...

Edited: 27 June 2013, 02:32
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4. Re: New Zealand Trip Report - 24th May 2013 to 7th June 2013

A great trip report - thank you for sharing!

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5. Re: New Zealand Trip Report - 24th May 2013 to 7th June 2013

I also adore the Lindis Pass - and yes, it would have been easier with two nights Aoraki/Mt Cook.

And I agree the Haast Pass is a tough drive, especially in marginal weather, glad you got through safely.

Hope to see you back this way before too long :)

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6. Re: New Zealand Trip Report - 24th May 2013 to 7th June 2013

Thanks so much for this very useful report.

I have taken notes, especially about the lack of places to eat on the Haast to Wanaka trip. We will likely be making our own lunches anyway. You have also better prepared us for the walk at Mt. Cook. We will be two nights there and will be bringing in groceries.

You have made me even more excited about our trip starting this August.

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7. Re: New Zealand Trip Report - 24th May 2013 to 7th June 2013

Thank you expatkiwiwairoa!

And Hi! maryann-ns - great to be able shed some light on some places you are heading to. Yeah - some snacks and hot coffee/hot choc in a flask will come in handy if you overshot an eatery or something. The other thing to note is the speed limit is 100km/hr - we know this but i guess after trailing some campervans for so long and when there is a rare "straight and empty" road ahead, it was almost an instant reaction. My hubby received a ticket for travelling at 110km/hr :-( ! So, be mindful of the speed limit.

And Mt Cook is beautiful - the Tasman Glacier walk is a must. I heard there are other fabulous walks eg Hooker Valley etc - but we didn't do it due to the lack of time.

Have a great trip !

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8. Re: New Zealand Trip Report - 24th May 2013 to 7th June 2013

Thanks for the warning. Here we are usually given about 10 Km/hr. leeway. I can see the temptation on the straight stretches. The highway police know where to catch you.

9. Re: New Zealand Trip Report - 24th May 2013 to 7th June 2013

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