Saturday, 2 February 2013

New Zealand : South Island Roadtrip

Alhamdulillah, we had the privilege to travel to the picturesque South Island, New Zealand for 10 days last December.  We took a direct flight from KLIA to Auckland where we had the opportunity to spend the night there before taking a domestic flight the next morning to Christchurch.  Our road trip started and finished in Christchurch before flying back to Auckland and to the homeland.    
Lupines and sheep
Day 1      TGG – KLIA – Auckland 

We took a cab to Kuala Terengganu airport and the journey to the land of the long white cloud began. Upon arriving at KLIA, we had some dinner and solat before boarding our next flight.  We safely arrived in Auckland as per schedule and more importantly, the immigration process went smoothly including  the  biosecurity screening part.   
It is wise to list down all your food supplies
We had already printed a list of food we brought and put them into one bag for easy inspection just in case.  However, upon showing the list and answer few simple questions, we were directed to the scanning line instead of going to the other line where we saw people had to open up their bags for thorough inspection. 
Beautiful wild flowers
Then, we took a free shuttle bus to our first hotel nearby.  After refreshing ourselves and solat, we walked back to the airport to take a bus to the Auckland CBD.  The bus stopped right in front of a halal kebab restaurant in the town center.  
Found in Auckland, Christchurch, Te Anau & Queenstown
So, we filled-up our hungry stomach first before exploring further where we had the opportunity to go to the Albert Park, University of Auckland, Skycity and lastly the Viaduct Harbour from which we took the bus back to the airport and then the shuttle back to the hotel.  It was almost 10 pm by then.
Lupines and Lembu
Day 2           Auckland – Christchurch – Ashburton – Fairlie – Lake Tekapo 

We took a very early morning flight to Christchurch.  Upon arriving, we went to the i-site for some info gathering and to pick-up free maps.  Then, we called the car rental company using the free phone available. Not long after that, the car was sent to us at the airport by the owner.  After some paper works, we were off to the city center.  Our final destination for that day was more than 200 km away, but first we went to the Westfield Mall, Hagley Park and Botanic Garden.  
Old church at Lake Tekapo
Then, the journey to Lake Tekapo began with several pit stops along the way for photo taking opportunities with cows, sheep and beautiful background scenery.  We arrived at our hotel in the late afternoon and upon checking in and showers we went out again to the famous church and dog statue by the lake surrounded by so many colourful lupines in full bloom.  After lots and lots of photo taking sessions, we went back to our hotel, had dinner and went to bed to be ready for an even longer trip the next day. 
Colorful lupines at Lake Tekapo
Day 3     Lake Tekapo – Lake Pukaki – Mt Cook – Twizel – Omarama – Dunedin  
Upon checking out from the hotel, we drove towards majestic Mt. Cook.  On the way, we stopped at the beautiful Lake Pukaki and also had the chance to sample a fresh fish at a salmon farm.  We stopped at Twizel and Omarama before arriving at historic Elephant Rocks.   
Beautiful Lake Pukaki
Majestic Mt Cook in the background
Then, we went to another historic place, Moeraki Boulders where we somehow bypassed Oamaru town, unintentionally due 100% trust given to the GPS, before arriving at Dunedin.  After checking in at our hotel, we walked to the city center to buy some dinner and took the opportunity to go to the most photographed building in New Zealand, the beautiful Dunedin Railway Station.
Historic Elephant Rocks
Mysterious Moeraki Boulders
Day 4          Dunedin – Balclutha – Clinton – Gore – Riversdale – Te Anau 

Our first activity for the 2nd day in Dunedin was a tour to the Cadbury World which lasted for about 2 hrs.  On the way back to the hotel car park, we met a nice friendly malaysian couple who were in the middle of their month-long journey of North and South Islands.  The wife was studying in Dunedin a long time ago and the husband was a retired high ranking government officer.  
Photogenic Dunedin Railway Station
After that, we went to Baldwin Street, claimed to be the world’s steepest road.  Upon arriving, we parked our car by the road side and make our way to the top of the road by walking.  Secondly, we drove the car up the steep road which was quite a scary experience since the car almost came to a full stop for a few seconds at the steepest section of the road.  Nevertheless, we managed to get certified for our feats from one of the souvenir shops nearby. 
World's Steepest Street
Before proceeding to the final destination of that day, we paid a visit to the Dunedin Botanical garden where we met the same friendly couple again.  After saying good bye, we went separate ways and another long and tiring journey to Te Anau commenced.  We arrived at around 8 pm at our hotel, but the check in went smoothly without a hassle.  However, we were given a bad news by the hotel caretaker that the road to Milford Sound, which was our planned destination for the following day, was closed due to a massive landslide.
Sheep are everywhere
Double rainbows after the rain
Day 5          Te Anau – Cromwell – Arrowtown – Queenstown
Upon being told by the supposedly our ferry operator  in Milford Sound that the road to there was still inaccessible, we decided to go straight to Queenstown for our next pit stop.  Before that, we made a detour to Cromwell to taste some real fruit ice scream and visited cherry orchard by the roadside. Unfortunately, the cherry picking season had not started yet.  We drove by a historic Arrowtown and went to Queenstown city center before checking in at our hotel.  
Calm Lake Wakatipu
Since the day was still early, we took the chance to experience the Skyline Gondola before spending the rest of the time at the city center looking for souvenir till late at night.  We tried to buy bus tickets to go back to Milford Sound hoping that the affected road would be opened the next day, but disappointingly the buses were fully booked.  Certain tour operators simply refused to sell the tickets since at that moment nobody knew for sure when the road would be back in normal condition.
Kawarau Bridge for adrenaline junkies
Day 6          Queenstown – Milford Sound – Queenstown

Since we had planned to spend another night in Queenstown, we tried our luck again to purchase tickets for  a cruise at Milford Sound.  With the help of the hotel receptionist, we managed to buy the tickets even though the road clearing was still in progress and out of order.  However, since the time was on our side, we took a gamble and drove back to Te Anau while praying hard that the road would be fully repaired by the time we arrived so that we could catch the last scheduled cruise of the day at 3 pm. 
Awesome Mirror Lakes
Upon arriving at Te Anau at around 11 am, we were told by a gas station operator that the road was finally fixed and already opened for traffic.  After grabbing some kebab, we headed to what was considered the 8th wonder of the world.  Along the way, we made a stop at the Mirror Lakes and got to meet some friendly kea birds.  The cruise itself was very wonderful, relaxing and worth all the troubles.  
Kea bird found on Te Anau-Milford Sound stretch
After the cruise, we traveled a long way back to Queenstown for a very good night sleep.  Because of the landslide issue, we had to rearrange our itinerary and had to skip a cruise around Lake Wakatipu and a trip to Glernorchy.  Anyhow, they were only optional in our agenda.
Wonderful Milford Sound
Day 7               Queenstown – Cadrona – Lake Wanaka – Haast – Fox Glacier – Franz Josef 

The trip from Queenstown to Franz Josef was the longest in all of our journeys.  First stop of the day was the exciting Puzzling World followed by a lunch by the splendid Lake Wanaka before continuing to the west coast where the scenery along the road started to change from almost bare mountain with small vegetation to the mountain with thick tropical forest. At Puzzling World and Lake Wanaka, we met another group of friendly malaysian.  
Exciting Puzzling World
Splendid Lake Wanaka
Peaceful Lake Hawea
Before arriving at Fox Glacier, we made a stop at the Blue Pool and Thunder Creek Waterfalls located just within short distance from the main road.  We arrived at Fox Glacier quite late in the afternoon where we were among the last visitors on that day.   
Cool Blue Pool
After that, we drove further to Franz Josef township to look for our pre-booked accommodation.  Since we arrived quite late, a message was left on the front door of the motel office saying that our room key was left at the room door itself.
Amazing Fox Glacier
Day 8          Franz Josef – Ross – Hokitika – Arthur Pass – Christchurch

After checking out, we went straight to Franz Josef glacier.  Apparently, we were the first ones to arrive.  Even the park ranger arrived later than us.  The walk from the parking lot to the base of the glacier took about 1½ hrs.   
Equally amazing Franz Josef Glacier
After taking pictures including with the one with the ranger, we walked back to our car while more and more tourists started to arrive.  We traveled back to the direction of Fox Glacier in order to go the magnificent Lake Matheson since we did not have time to go there the previous day as planned. 
Magnificent Lake Matheson
After that, we drove back to Franz Josef township and went to Westcoast Wildlife Center to see the famous kiwi bird .  The experience was not that exciting with costly tickets and we had to see the shy kiwi in  total darkness where photography, even without the flash, was prohibited.   
Clock tower at Hokitika
Kea bird found at Arthur Pass
Then, the long journey back to Christchurch started.  We stopped by at Hokitika to buy some food and had a sandwich lunch by the sea before proceeding to the final destination through beautiful Arthur Pass.  We arrived at our pre-booked motel at around 9 pm. 
Mesmerizing scenery along Arthur Pass
  Day 9          Christchurch – Kaikoura – Christchurch 

Actually we planned to drive to Kaikoura, but due to tiredness and also as advised by the motel owner during check-in, we opted for the journey by train.  So, we drove to Addington Railway Station instead of taking the free shuttle offered by the motel since the distance was very near and free car park was in abundance at the station.  The journey to Kaikoura went smoothly, but the return one was another story.  
Whale watcher meeting point
We arrived at Kaikoura on time where the station itself, called the Whaleway Station, was the meeting point for whale watching activity.  We were briefed by the staff prior to being  transported to the nearby jetty by bus.  From there, we went onto a boat and off to the open sea.  Not long after that, we spotted some dolphins and managed to see 4 different whales.  Even though we only got to see a very small part of the gentle giant, it was once in a lifetime experience which worth every penny.  
Once in a life time experience
There were few people succumbed badly to the sea sickness, but luckily we were not affected after taking some precaution pill just before the trip.  Back at Kaikoura town, we had some fish & chip and nasi goreng pattaya for a late lunch at a restaurant owned by a malaysian chinese. The return train was I hr late.  When it finally arrived, it turned out that it had problem with the air-conditioning system.   
Tip of the iceberg of the sea giant
So, we had to endure the heat all way back to Christchurch.  Sometimes, we went to the open-air section of the train to take some photos or just to get away from the heat.  As a result, we had no time to go to Akaroa which was an optional place in our itinerary.  So, we proceeded back to the motel, had maggie & kebab for dinner, packed our things and went to bed for our final night in the South Island.
Unforgettable experience in Kaikoura
Day 10          Christchurch – Auckland – KLIA – KUA

On our final day in Kiwiland , we went to the Christchurch town center where we could see restoration activities were still on-going on buildings affected by powerful earthquake back in Feb 2011.  After last minute shopping of whittaker chocolates, we returned our rental car to a specified location, but not before we refilled the gas and washed the car at self-autowash near the airport in order to avoid any penalty.  
Punting along the Avon River
When we arrived at Auckland, instead of taking a free shuttle, we pushed our luggage on a trolley by foot for quite a distance to the international terminal.  After checking in our luggage all the way to Kuantan, we went to pray first at a designated area on the 1st floor before taking a flight home which was 1 hr late due to some technical problem.  Nevertheless, we arrived safely at KLIA before boarding our next plane to Kuantan.  Finally, we took a cab to our home sweet home.
Roses found in botanic garden and home compound
In conclusion, it was certainly an experience not to be forgotten where what people said about New Zealand was amazingly true. So the saying “indah khabar dari rupa” was not applicable here.  Even though we went there when the summer season had just begun and only very little snow could be seen left at the top of mountain, the scenery was nevertheless spectacular and mesmerizing.  
Summer also means lupines are in full bloom
Summer also means we could enjoy the surroundings even more due to the longer daylight.  It was quite an expensive trip though with minor hiccup here and there, but the overall experience was priceless.  We would certainly do it again if given the opportunity, insyaAllah.


  1. Boleh saya jumpa tuan utk dlptkan gambaran yg lebih jelas sebab saya dan keluarga akan ke nz hujung sept ini.

  2. Terima kasih kerana sudi singgah...saya mengumpul maklumat drp blog & info yg sgt byk di cyberspace...

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