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Trip Report - warning long.............

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Trip Report - warning long.............

Well hubby and I have been back two weeks from our Camper holiday in the South Island and we both agree we don't know how anybody can tear themselves away from the place.

We were spoilt for choice with scenery - amazing countryside, beautiful lakes, snow capped mountains & after two weeks we were definitely on sensory overload, photos just don't do it justice!

The weather according to the locals was unusually cold for Spring 15th October - 28th Oct, following a great winter with lots of sun filled days.

It started to rain in Hokitika and didn't stop until we reached glorious Wanaka, that threw a few spanners in the works but we just adjusted our itinerary and still enjoyed our time.

When we reached Franz Josef it was raining and flights were grounded. After visiting the I-site we learned that the weather ahead was pretty much the same for the next few days, so unlikely to get a flight landing on glacier.

We did do the walk to Franz Josef from the carpark but it was pretty poor visibility, lots of low clouds, fog and still raining, not the glacial experience I was after, so we decided to go on to Wanaka and check the weather from there & double back if/when the weather improved.

Wanaka was sunny and we loved the place at first sight, hubby even got a real estate book to check out the house prices lol. We decided to do a flight from Wanaka airport a couple of days later with Southern Alps Air – that flew over Mt Cook, Tasman, Franz and Fox glaciers, money well spent and at least we got to see the glaciers from the air but no landing, save something for next time;)

Hubby took a flight in a Pitts Plane, if adrenaline activities are your thing then check out Ivan Krippner's Extreme Trial Flight (Southern Lakes “Learn to Fly”) from Wanaka airport. Ivan was recommended by the lady at Wanaka I-site because hubby wanted to do the Silver Demon flight but found it was not running any longer.

Ivan is New Zealands very own Evel Knievel (2 x aerobatic champion) hubby performed the stunts which Ivan taught him and bought the DVD to prove it , with Ivan hamming it up in the background pretending to take a nap. Hubby loved every minute of it and was sick as a dog after landing haha, anyway if you like that sort of thing hubby highly recommends.

We had more bad luck in Queenstown with a rockslide on the Milford Road, we were collected at 6.25am for our Milford cruise and we were back at the holiday park by 7.30am, due to the road closure – luckily we got a refund from Mitre Peak cruises.

We could not afford another flight so we decided to go on to Dunedin. A couple of days later we checked the weather and the road had re-opened so we drove 7 + hours to get back, (not recommended;)!

We booked by phone with Mitre Peak cruises, even got a discount due to the cancellation of the first trip which was very nice of them. The cruise was great and I loved the road journey from Te Anau to Milford, stunning scenery with a fabulous informative bus driver, all in all a good company with smaller boats and very comfortable experience. Milford was definitely a highlight as we saw penguins, seals and dolphins and the sun was shining from the moment we arrived, on the way home we even had snow, so a unique experience for us.

CAMPER –

We hired a Star ST (shower toilet) from Wendrekreissen – the price was affordable but gee you better be good friends as it was tiny! Only one can stand up at a time, it took a few days to work out a way to get things done, on the plus side we slept like logs.

We agreed that the shower was not needed as 99% of the holiday parks we visited had heated ablutions blocks, good to have the porta potty at night though.

The multi media centre provided by Wendekreissin was useless for TV even in Christchurch. We only got a clear picture in Dunedin, the rest of the time we got one station with a shocking picture, so good for DVD's only, fortunately all the holiday parks have a few DVD's which they will loan for free.

The van was a Mazda Hitop & in good working order but top speed was 80 kph and it did not handle too well in the wind but other than that was fine.

On our last day part of the plastic lever that you use to open the rear door broke off in hubby’s hand and we were slugged $407 NZD for that (I only had to pay the excess of $250 ) but as we only opened the rear door three times, thought this was more wear n tear than negligence, claimed on our travel insurance back home, so no biggie. Apart from that I would use them again but def go with a bigger camper.

HOLIDAY PARKS

We mainly stayed in Top 10 and Kiwi parks, the cheapest was $32 per night for a powered site and the dearest $49 in Queenstown. They were all in good locations, well run with mostly friendly staff, clean and had good facilities – our favourite was Akaroa for the stunning view and Geraldine for the most hospitable staff and general layout of the park.

Our least favourite was in Haast – Aspiring Motel and motorhome Lodge – no atmosphere, felt like a car park.

FAVOURITE THINGS

Some of my favourites places were Arrowtown, Cromwell, Wanaka, Oamaru, Akaroa, Te Anau and Queenstown.

My favourite drives, gosh hard to name just a few but off the top of my head - Te Anau to Milford is definitely stunning, Christchurch to Arthur’s pass, Wanaka to Queenstown over Cardrona Pass and the drive into Akaroa.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Petrol was quite expensive, the cheapest for unleaded was $2.16 litre and dearest was on the west Coast $2.40, average was about $2.20. We used the discount vouchers on our 4-Square supermarket shopping dockets for the Z fuel service stations.

Listen to the experts, the distances are not great but the roads really require concentration, most days we capped it at a 3 hour drive except for the mad dash from Dunedin to Queenstown, exhausting.

Kiwi's were mostly friendly and hospitable everywhere we went, they love to chat & have a laugh

Be flexible as the weather in October can throw you a few curve balls.

Two weeks is not enough time to do the South Island justice, have to go back, what a shame;)

Christchurch was a very humbling experience, the scale of the damage caused was far greater than I had expected but good to see that the city goes on and the container city was fabulous.

I- sites were very helpful, loads of free maps and useful information.

Pies are delicious in NZ, hubby had the best Butter Chicken one at Darfield Bakery and a Satay chicken one in the little pie shop in Te Anau.

I loved picking up fresh produce at little farm stalls enroute , yummy asparagus, apples etc

I love Keas, I know they are cheeky and destroy stuff but gosh they are cute and fun to watch.

We will be back as soon as we can afford it, hubby is an adrelaline junkie.

San Antonio, Texas
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1. Re: Trip Report - warning long.............

Yeah, the petrol is crazy expensive at $8-$9 a gallon (here in Texas it costs $3 a gallon). I gotta agree on the pies. Some of my favorites were the chicken and mushroom pie I got at a small cafe in Mount Aspiring on the drive between Haast and Wanaka, and the chicken and apricot one I picked up at the New World supermarket in Greymouth (though I didn't have a single pie in the South Island that wasn't great).The keas I saw eating the road in Arthur's Pass were killing me with laughter.

Portland, Oregon
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2. Re: Trip Report - warning long.............

Thanks for the report...I'm getting really excited for my trip, but hope I get better weather and no road closings!!

San Antonio, Texas
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3. Re: Trip Report - warning long.............

That flight your husband took sounds amazing! I might have to look into that for the next time (wonder if I could convince Ivan to let me have a parachute exit? haha, probably not)

Edited: 15 November 2012, 03:01
New Zealand
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for South Island
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4. Re: Trip Report - warning long.............

A really great report, thanks Nefertari :)

Love that you didn't let a few spells of bad weather ruin your plans.

But how come it took 7+ hours to drive to Queenstown? Where were you? Dunedin to Q'town, even in s slow campervan, is only 4 hours.

And yes, gotta love the kea - sadly their numbers are declining.

I look forward to your next visit and next report :)

Greymouth, New...
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for South Island
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5. Re: Trip Report - warning long.............

thank you for posting such an awesome trip report.

yes the wether is spring is alwys fickle. this year on the coast, it rained only around 15 days instead of the usual 28, but come October and it October certainly performed well with rain leaving us with about 5 fine days.

I am pleased that you tried the pies from theDarfield Bakery, they are my all time favorite pies

on the west coast , we now have only satalite TV (digital) so unless you you have a sky dish, there is no TV, and the rol out is moving over all of NZ.

just like cell phone and in places radio, not a lot of coverage., but it is a hoilday so hopefully wasnt too much of an inconvienience.

Melbourne, Australia
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6. Re: Trip Report - warning long.............

Fantastic trip report! Shame the weather wasn't kind but you made the most of it anyway! Thanks for sharing your adventures. WL, Nefertari said it was Dunedin to Milford Sound that took 7+ hours. Couldn't miss out on the jewel in the crown though.

Rockhampton...
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7. Re: Trip Report - warning long.............

Great report. Love hearing about your highs and lows but always enjoying no matter what. Keas - you gotta lov'em.

Next time your here, try the pies at Garston Hotel which is between Queenstown and Te Anau. The owner Al, is a chef and he makes the most scrummy pies - we keep going down there just to get a supply of his delicious pies!!

I hope next time you come you get to see up around Nelson and the Abel Tasman area - awesome places to visit and explore.

The Catlins down south of Dunedin is must as well - waterfalls, birdlife, forests, coastal vistas, this list goes on.

Lets hope next time the weather rewards you with some fine weather - still, this is paradise. (in my opinion) :)

cheers

New Zealand
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for South Island
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8. Re: Trip Report - warning long.............

Hi Kiki :)

It seems they took a bus trip from at least Te Anau to Milford.

Dunedin to Te Anau is an easy 4 hour drive so I'm still a bit puzzled about the 7+ hours?

Melbourne, Australia
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9. Re: Trip Report - warning long.............

Perhaps it was the total time it took to get there, car then bus? That's determination for you :) You wouldn't want to miss out on Milford Sound or that gorgeous drive.

Birmingham, United...
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10. Re: Trip Report - warning long.............

Great trip report!

That fuel ain't expensive..... In the UK I live in an area where it's classed as pretty cheap.

Unleaded is equiv' of NZD$2.70 per litre, down in the big smoke it's closer to NZD$3 per litre, diesel is about 10-15c more per litre.

Think I'm going to have to knock OH out so we can do Milford Sound, he doesn't want to do that coach trip (flight is out of our budget) butnobody has ever said "Don't bother"