A travelogue of our journey to the south island of New Zealand.
Arriving at LCCT earlier than the rest, I had to wait for the others. Waiting is B.O.R.I.N.G. The Internet line’s SLOW. Forget the public wi-fi at peak times and there’s nothing to do.
After a while, grab something to eat at Starbucks. For an airport like LCCT, catering A low-cost carrier airline, makes it a very busy terminal, it’s the main choice for travellers in the region, hence the crowd is just incredible. Starbucks which is normally a quiet peaceful sanctuary is just chaos, chaos, chaos here. Can’t blame the barista if they are bit tensed and hyped, even feel kind of pity for them having to endure all that while I was sitting by the counter observing for half an hour with nonstop coming orders.
Well done to them for being patient and professional… As for the rest of the airport terminal, a circus going on every hour of day.
The rest of the group came few hours later, checked in without any glitch, and were on our way.
Flight took 7 hrs 50 min to land at Sydney. Landed Sydney 1:00 pm, local time. We just waited at the airport terminal, because the next flight to Christchurch is just a few hours. There’s some shops and eateries, enough to keep you entertained for that few hours wait, just don’t let your budget run out of control. From Sydney 7:30PM, depart to Christchurch and landed 1:30am (Christchurch time). Flight took about 3 hours. At this point the time zone was getting confusing.
With all the cafe’s and restaurant already closed, our hungry stomach made us ask the security officer at the airport where we can get some food and he pointed to us the nearest McDonald’s direction… we walked there for 15 minutes, found out that it’s closed for dine-in except for drive through customers. So the poor guy had to take our orders ran back and forth from the counter to the front door, and he did it nicely for the eight of us. We had our meal outside the restaurant in the cold and didn’t mind it though as we were too hungry.
In general, this what the drive looked liked. Probably some discrepancy but for viewing purposes it is as close as it can get.
Day 1: Christchurch
Waiting at Christchurch airport, until. 9:00 am (8 hours later). The caravan pick-up finally came and took us to his office. We sorted out all documents, driving license, insurance and deposits with a cost of about NZD 2000 per camper-van for that 10 day duration, the owner demonstrated to us the operations and instructions of the vehicle, which I miraculously was able to understand even though being deprived of sleep. After that we drove off to Pak n Save (A Supermarket chain in New Zealand) to buy some supplies and food for the kitchen.
On our way, we stopped at this small town, Fairlie, and our camper van seems to be leaking water. Checked it and found that it was just siphon prob. Hose sucking out water. Had it been anything more serious, we would have to call AAA and had the thing fixed, might have lost a lot of time there. The camper-can comes with insurance for the duration of your stay, types and coverage depends on how much you’re willing to pay and is available with some options but still is compulsory.
Then continued to Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki. Nice view. Tasted a slice of fresh salmon, bought from the salmon shop at Lake Pukaki. Feels kind of expensive even though we are buying it kind of directly from the source, don’t know why.
Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki
At the end of our first day, searched for a camp site to park our camper van. Found Holiday Park Lakefront Lodge at Lake Tekapo. Beautiful landscape. The site is just within 5 minutes walk to the waterline of the lake. Hot shower is NZ 2 for 10 minutes. Cost per person per night, NZD 20 so a total of NZD 160 for all of us at the campsite for that night.
As our first experience handling a camper van, it was kind of funny and amusing at the same time, you had to plug-in the power outlet, park properly, setting up the table and not to mention getting the bed out afterwards, which I had to struggle a little bit. Anep the vogue, Prepared some dinner, and I had a short walk after that stretching out the legs.
Day 2: Mt cook.
Next day, after our breakfast of fried rice, by Anep, our official cook. Refill the water tanks, dump waste, yet another first time for all of us. After all is done, we head to Mount Cook.
We were presented with an awesome view all along the road. Stop for a pictures few times and continued to Hooker Valley . There’s a parking site, no entry fee and toilets provided there.
A few pictures at mount cook and we were on our way again.
Then, its straight to Dunedin, but we managed to get lost a few times, made some wrong turn. Asked directions from friendly locals, and continued being amazed by the stunning landscape.
We passed small town Omarama, then a little detour to Elephant Rocks, more pictures and landscape, the Maori’s paintings, drive along the road besides the beach (Waianakarua Rd) down until the Moeraki boulders and Finally at 9:00 pm reached Dunedin. Searched for the booked camp site, and found the place with a map, compass, and good teamwork.
Day 3: Dunedin
Next morning, wake up, breakfast at camper van some rice and pre pack meal of meat. There were other camper van there, smaller than ours but very practical. Maybe if I come again I’ll think of going smaller.
while the others went for the Cadbury factory tour, I didn’t as I prefer to walk and explore the Street’s of Dunedin and do more sight-seeing.
I stopped for a drink at a cafe, had some nice coffee as usual and enjoying the view.
Back from walking around the streets at 1:30pm, and went back to the Cadbury factory to meet up with the rest of the guys, waited for them at the cafe, awesome with nice food and drinks, great staff service as well.
Next, went to Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world, I had a walk up, took some pictures..
visited the souvenir shop located at the beginning of the street and some bought their certificate as a little memento.
And then we were off sightseeing University of Otago. 2:30pm.
After an hour hanging out, we drove to Purakaunui waterfall reached there quite late at 7:30pm, Parked our vehicles, and after a 10 minute walk from the parking space, reached the falls, but didn’t hang for a long time there as we had to go to Invercargill for our camp night.
Arrived Invercargill Kiwi Holiday Park, where we are supposed to camp for that day, at 10:00pm. It was late and the owner was really kind to wake up from bed to fill us in. Tried to find some food in the town but all was closed except a 24 hour minimart where we just grab fish n fries. Anep was too tired to cook.
Day 4: Invercargill
Next morning, 11:20am Left Invercargill after dumping grey water and refill tanks with fresh water. Bought internet 500MB or 2 hours of internet connection for NZD 5 Via IAC, Internet Access Company. Internet connection in New Zealand is kind of expensive so it’s better off subscribing for an ISP if you plan to stay for a while.
The beautiful country side at our camp, and I just can’t resist taking pictures of these adorable lambs there. They were busy grazing that they didn’t notice me coming.
and since one of them seems curious for a selfie, why not…
New Zealand chips and chocolate milk and cookie. I really liked the flavours. About NZD 10 for both.
Arrived at Te Anau, camped there for the night at Kiwi Holiday Park, bought some souvenirs and wandered around the little town. A very small town where an hour walk would cover the entire street. At night, Anep cooked some pre pack food, and after a good meal, we had our rest. Today was a bit relaxing so I could hang and wander the streets of Te Anau. There’s more place to dine and more choices of shops compared to Invercargill. We booked the Milford Sound cruise for tomorrow at NZD 70 per person from Southern Discoveries, which the office is located at the lakefront drive. As the tour starts 9:00 am tomorrow, we would have to wake up and start rolling by 6:00 am. Practically, booking for tours here is relatively easy as there are almost everywhere.
Day 5: Milford sound
Wake up early 3:30am. It was freezing cold outside. We all packed up and got ready for the day.
To Milford Sound is 120 km from Te Anau, still very early and everything was dark but after the morning light came out, the view along the way was magical. We didn’t stop and take pictures too as we had to keep up with time but did some video from the van. Reached Milford Sound at 8:00am, as scheduled. Took photos, and some videos of the tour as well. Great scene, beautiful 1 hour tour and complemented with a nice breakfast.
On the way back toTe Anau, we stop for few minutes at as much places that we can, including Mirror Lake for some sight-seeing and pictures.
Arrived Te Anau, we rested and had some lunch, got some souvenirs, relaxed for a while, then off to Queenstown, about 5:30pm local time. We were behind schedule actually, lost one day as we are supposed to be in Queenstown today.
7:30 pm still on the road to Queenstown.
Arrived Queenstown 8:00 pm. Look for a camp site and found one, Top Ten Holiday Park, Queenstown. Camp site NZD 98 per night per camper van. The park is 5 minutes walk to town, which was very convenient. At Night, I had a walk to town for some sight-seeing and pictures.
End part 1..
Seriously, I’d love to make this only one entry and be done with it but the length of the blog was ridiculous. Anyway… will continue again at another entry. Day 5-10… New Zealand awesome landscape and its friendly people makes the adventure so memorable.
continued at part 2