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Monday, October 31, 2011

New Zealand Itinerary

We love to travel and we know that many other people do too, especially with the availability of cheap flights and the increment of people's financial ability nowadays.

Usually, before any of our trips we would spend a lot of time and effort in customizing our itinerary to ensure that we will have a lot of fun and a phenomenal time there.

Thus, we are including our Itinerary specially for our friends and fellow readers who are also passionate in traveling and it would mean a lot to us if these itineraries could help you as well.

We will start with our New Zealand trip since it's the most recent one. We'll try to dig out our past itineraries and post them in this blog too.

Feel free to use it :)


NEW ZEALAND (16 DAYS)

Day 1 (Wed, 12.10.2011)
• Flight depart from LCCT at 11.40pm

Day 2 (Thurs, 13.10.2011)

• Reach Christchurch Airport at 2.55pm (Pick-up by shuttle)
• Take the rental car and drive to Christchurch city center
• Check-in at Amber Park Holiday Park - 4.5 star
• Lunch at Northlands Shopping Center
• Visit Christchurch earthquake location

Day 3 (Fri, 14.10.2011)

• Lake Tekapo
- Church of Good Shepherd
- Sheepdog Monument

• Lake Pukaki
• Mount Cook
- Mount Cook Village
- Glacier Explorers tour on the Tasman Glacier Lake

• Drive to Twizel
- Dinner and overnight in Twizel

Day 4 (Sat, 15.10.2011)

• Twizel
- Lord of The Rings Tour
- High Country Salmon Farm

• Wanaka
- Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World
- Lake Wanaka

• Crown Range Summit
• Arrowtown
• Shotover Lodge - 3 star (overnight)
• Queenstown

Day 5 (Sun, 16.10.2011)
• Queenstown
• Skippers Canyon Jet
• Lake Wakatipu and Aggy's Shack
• Skyline - Gondola, Luge, Haka
• Queenstown Garden
• Shotover Lodge (overnight)

Day 6 (Mon, 17.10.2011)
• Te Anau
• Milford Sound - Cruise
• Distinction Luxmore Hotel, Te Anau - 4 star (overnight)

Day 7 (Tue, 18.10.2011)
• Te Anau
• Dunedin Cadbury Factory
• Christchurch
Amber Park Holiday Park (overnight)

Day 8 (Wed, 19.10.2011)
• Flight from Christchurch to Auckland at 7.10am
• Reach Auckland at 8.10am (Pick-up by shuttle)
• Take the rental car and drive to Auckland city center
• Sight-seeing in Auckland city center (food + shopping + Queens Wharf)
• Jucy Hotel - 2 star (overnight)
• Have dinner in Auckland
• Drive around Auckland city center at night and enjoy the ambiance

Day 9 (Thurs, 20.10.2011)
(to be continued)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Zealand - 8

Wednesday
Christchurch

Tosh woke up first at 4am with the help of the alarm clock and we washed our face before we checked out by leaving our key in a box outside of the lodge office. It was freezing cold outside.

The road was empty and quiet but bright enough and Tosh drove our car slowly to the Ace Car Rental office near the airport. Even though there were just the two of us, we felt safe. The Ace Car Rental office was closed but the gate was open and there was a spot light that brightened the porch. We drove in, parked in the compound and waited in the car since our taxi hasn't arrived yet. The area was dark since the Ace office is surrounded by factories and they were all closed at that time.

About 10 minutes to 5am, we saw a car coming towards us and he stopped by the roadside a bit far from the gate. We weren't sure if that was a taxi because it was dark and we could only see the headlights. Since it was early, we decided to ignore it and be safe in the car. Then that car went off but after a while came back but this time he drove into the compound and the driver came out. Then only we saw his car clearly and it was our taxi!

It was drizzling and he helped to open the bonnet to put our bags while Tosh dropped our car key in a box provided by Ace at the entrance.

The taxi driver was an old man and very friendly too. It only took him 8 minutes to send us to the airport with a fee of NZD 10 and guest what, the domestic terminal was still closed! The domestic airport is small and the staffs were just about to get to work and they haven't open the doors. We waited outside with our bags in the cold, hoping the they would open the door the soonest.

We were the only passengers there and we were relieved when they opened the door for us. It was warm inside and there were plenty of seats in the small terminal. Even the check-in counter hasn't open yet.

In our booking tickets, it was stated that the check-in counter opens 3 hours before flight and it closes 1 hour before flight, but other passengers only checked-in 30 minutes before the flight while some came on the dot at 7.10am. We could have slept longer if we knew that the domestic airport is not strict with the check-in time, but it's ok, better early than late right :)

Auckland

Our flight to Auckland was by Jetstar (NZD 146 for 2 pax) and it is a 1 hour and 20 minutes flight. We reached Auckland at 8.20am and there was a shuttle waiting for us, since we have pre-booked our car with Ace.

It is the same procedure in Auckland, where they pick us up from the airport and take us to their office nearby. There we have to sign a few papers and pay the balance and take our car. The total booking value was NZD 114 for 2 days and we only paid a deposit of 5% which was NZD 6 during the booking.

Equip with a map, Tosh drove the car to the city center to find our first lodging in Auckland, the Jucy Hotel.
Auckland is big and we got lost a few times, but it was good because we saw many halal restaurants along the incorrect way.

Auckland City Centre


Jucy Hotel (2 Star)

During this Rugby World Cup season, almost all of the accommodations in Auckland were fully booked & those that were left were charged much higher than usual, so we just grabbed the cheapest deal we could get. We managed to find a double bedroom with shared bathroom at this Jucy Hotel, Emily Place, Central Business District, Auckland through booking.com at NZD158 @ RM398.43 for 2 nights.
This Jucy Hotel is at the central of Auckland and it is within walking distance to the shopping area in Auckland. Auckland is very modernized and everything requires money here. It is very hard to get a parking within the central area and even if there is, it is very expensive. It was a good decision to stay here because we were given a parking space in the garage of the hotel and we could just walk to find food, to shop or just to enjoy our walk.


It was early in the morning and we were not able to check-in so we walked from this hotel to the city center to find some food.


Auckland City Centre

We found this kebab store not far from our hotel and we ordered chicken and beef kebab.

We were super excited to see the RWC Official Store! In Auckland there are many stores that sell the RWC merchandises and rugby jerseys since Auckland is one of the cities that hosts the RWC matches.


Queens Wharf

We walked through the whole stretched of streets and ended up at the Queens Wharf.

There was a RWC carnival at the Queens Wharf!

And a fashion show too!
It was raining outside so we kept ourselves warm in here while enjoying the fashion show :D
video


After the rain has stopped, we continued to walk through other streets in the city center to pass the time, since we could only check-in at our hotel at 2pm.


Delicious soft cookies!

Our feet brought us to this place. We are not sure what this place is called but we saw many camps / tents.

Maybe the rugby fans camped here because the accommodations were full?

There was a group of guys in red which looked like the rugby players from Tonga. Not 100% sure though, and they have a serious look on their faces so we didn't dare to go there and ask or take pictures with them. We just sat nearby enjoying our soft chocolate chip cookies and took their pictures from far hehe.

At about 1.20pm, we started to walk back towards the Jucy Hotel and rest for the day since we didn't get a good sleep the night before.


Jucy Hotel

Our room at the Jucy Hotel was very small with a double-decker bed, 1 small side table, a small window and a dim light. The lower bed of the double-decker can fit two person while the top bed can fit one person. There is no tv or any other facilities in the room and there was not much space in the room either. We were only left with a very small space to pray, 1 person at a time.

The heaters are only available at the corridor and there was none in our room, so we closed our window as tightly as possible but our room was still cold.

The shared bathroom and toilet are a few doors down the hallway. There were 2 bathrooms and 3 toilets and we shivered every time we went to either. It was just cold. Nevertheless, we were grateful that there was a hot shower, but we had to let the water run for a while before it gets hot. The hot shower is only available early in the morning or at night though, and it is not available at any other time, even though the temperature is still low and it is very cold!

At night, we went out to have dinner.
We went to the road which we accidentally found in the morning, where we saw a Malaysia Restaurant. At first we wanted to eat there but then we found out it is actually a Chinese Malaysian Restaurant and we didn't see any halal sign. So we changed our plan and ate at a kebab restaurant instead. It was raining and cold and we were a bit sleepy still :)
The restaurant was empty and at first we thought that it was closing. Then the owner came to the counter and said that they are still open.Tosh had a kebab dish while Tawaf ordered fish & chips.
After dinner, we went around Auckland in our car and we saw many teenagers walking around. The city sleeps very late even with the shops all closed, excepts for the diners, some kebab shops, cafes and pubs. There was also one well-known clothes shop that was still open at about 1am.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Zealand - 7

Tuesday
Te Anau

There are a few things that we could do in Te Anau, such as to take a walk around the Te Anau lake early in the morning and witness the mist rising, visit the native bird sanctuary, take a day trip across the Lake Manapuri and experience the Te Wahipounamu @ Fiordland National Park, which is the largest park in NZ.
Sadly we didn't get to do any of those activities since we woke up a bit late, maybe because we were tired from our trip yesterday and it was drizzling the whole morning. We also have a long journey ahead of us with a flight to catch on the next morning, thus we could only drop by at the shops and bought some food and gifts to remind us of this place :)

Te Anau is a small town with good supermarkets and lots of small places to eat or buy take out food. The items sold here, including clothes and gifts are also quite cheap with a variety of choices.
From Te Anau we can also go further south to Invercargil, to Bluff and to the end of the South Island but that would require a few hours as well.

At 10am, we started our 9 hours (700km) of driving to Christchurch and our first stop was Dunedin, which is 4 hours away by driving through Gore.

The distance from Te Anau to Dunedin is 289km and it was raining all the way.



Dunedin


Dunedin is in the Otago region and it is the second largest city in the South Island. It is New Zealand's oldest city and it is very big compared to the other towns that we've been to in NZ.

The only reason that we visited Dunedin was to go to the Cadbury Factory!

Dunedin Cadbury Factory

The Cadbury World tours are at 9am to 3.15pm and it is best to book in advance, but you can also just go there and book the tour on the spot like we did. We booked the 1.30pm full tour at NZD 20 per pax.
The scent of chocolate was so good!!!
Before we went in for the tour, we were required to remove all jewellery, cameras, phones and handbags. We were only allowed to bring in our rings and the provided plastic bag with a couple of free chocolates in it and the shower caps. Tawaf had to wear the shower cap too, even though she had her tudung on.

The tour last for about 75 minutes and it includes this Purple Silo where they dropped 1 tonne of liquid chocolate!
We also learnt the process of making chocolate while tasting the warm melted chocolates in cups :). It was really good!! They gave a lot of free chocs along the way too and if you answer questions when they ask, then you'll get even more!

After the tour, we went to the Cadbury Shop and got ourselves more chocolates! The chocolates here are cheaper than the stores outside and there are so many varieties that are not available in Malaysia.
Other than this Cadbury Factory, there are other attractions in Dunedin such as the Dunedin Castle and the Dunedin Yellow-Eyed Penguins. There is also the half-day Pacific Coast train trip, which travels from Dunedin to Palmerston and return.

Dunedin is also famous for its Cheese Rolls, a cheesy mixture wrapped in white bread and grilled with butter. These Cheese Rolls are sold in many cafes around Dunedin at NZD 2 - 3 each.

We continued our journey from Dunedin to Timaru, which is 197 km away (2 hours and 35 minutes drive) and then drove straight to Ashburton for another hour (77.4km). There weren't much to see on the state highway even though it is by the seaside, maybe because it was raining heavily and our views were limited.

As we passed Ashburton, Tosh were already tired from driving but he continued driving towards Christchurch with a smile. It took us another 1 hour and 20 minutes (86.2km) from Ashburton to Christchurch.
The whole journey actually took us 11 hours of driving instead of 9 hours! Wow!!


Christchurch

By the time we reached Chrictchurch, it was already dark and we were exhausted. We checked-in at the Amber Park, the same hotel that we stayed in Christchurch a few days ago for the ensuite Tourist Cabin at
NZD 68 per night.

Our flight to Auckland was at 7.10am the next morning and we have to return our car at about 5am, so we asked for the receptionist's help to confirm our taxi to fetch us from the car rental office to the airport at about the same time.

After it was done, we went to see our room.
This room could fit 3 people even though it is a bit smaller than our previous room here.
It was so good to have a bed after the long journey, Tosh was right. It was a good decision that we changed our plan from sleeping in the car or at the airport to this lodge.

After our bath and dinner, we packed our stuff back into the car and got ready in our layered clothes and jackets. We decided that we should go out and find our way to the airport just to make sure that we wouldn't get lost early in the morning.

That night, we only had a few hours to rest so we slept in our jackets and layered trousers just in case we over sleep and have to rush out.