Tuesday, February 13, 2018

New Zealand: South Island

Date: 10 - 15 October 2018

After 5 days in North Island - all about the North right here, we continued our exploration of New Zealand to its breathtaking South Island!

Our Itinerary:


Day 6: 10th October 2017

We rented 2 x 6-seater campervans from Star RV by Apollo to accomodate our 12-pax. As we landed at Christchurch Airport, a representative from the campervan rental company transited us to their office. The documentations and what-not took about 1 to 2 hours!


Our destination today was to Lake Tekapo, but first, we stopped by Mahan Supermarket & Halal Meat (about 20 minutes from the airport) to stock up on some groceries.

The view from the RV's window.

The trip to Lake Tekapo took about 3 hours and by the time we arrived at Lake Tekapo Motel & Holiday Park, it was already dark. We just had a bit of a glimpse of the lake at this point. The most memorable thing about this park is that, during our stay, the guys' bathroom was under maintenance, so we had to share the toilets and shower area with both males and females. I have never experienced a unisex bathroom before! We tried our best to minimise using the campervans' ensuite shower and toilet to avoid having to deal with any stinky outcomes.

My mom had a migraine, and I wasn't feeling too good either. Sitting at the back on the campervan was far from comfortable. The chair was too upright and the amount of swaying was a bit ridiculous. Honestly, I was not enjoying this part. Anyway, for dinner, my dad took the lead and together with the boys, barbecued some lamb.

Day 7: 11th October 2017

Woke up to the lovely view of Tekapo! After checking-out, we explored the breathtaking view of the lake right outside the park's gate. The water was crystal clear and I enjoyed just sitting by the lake very much ;)

A bit cloudy...

We visited the Church of the Good Shepard, and at this point, my phone was out of battery! Plain silly! I had to steal some pictures from the fam =D

Thanks Mak for this shot!

Had pizzas for lunch at Tin Plate Kitchen & Bar at Tekapo Village on the State Highway.


At a nearby souvenir shop, I witnessed the shopkeeper, an angry old lady, scolding so rudely to a couple of tourist boys who accidentally dropped some items. I have heard from friends about how the Kiwis in South Island can be aggressive and unfriendly, I have to say that is quite true.

Headed towards Queenstown, another 3-hour drive. Checked-in at Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park. My brother, Am bought our dinner from a halal restaurant, Pedro's House of Lamb and we ate them at the common room at the holiday park. This is a very nice park, clean and tidy with great mountain views.

Day 8: 12th October 2017

Woke up very early and waited for our pick-up van for our Milford Sound bus tour. We were gathered at their head office at the center of town. The journey took approximately 5 hours to reach Milford Sound, with 2 picturesque stops along the way.

1) Te Anau for a toilet break.


2) Fiordland National Park for pictures.

Mirror Lake!


We were very lucky with the weather because Milford Sound is absolutely stunning under the sunshine! We spotted seals sun-bathing on the rocks. You can view our trip to Milford Sound here.


Arrived home late in the evening and needed a full rest from sitting on the bus for too long!

Day 9: 13th October 2017

We had a quick walk around Queenstown in the morning. The campervans were sooo huge, we found it challenging to find parking spots for them. Another angry man (a bus driver I assume) was screaming at us for dropping off passengers at a bus parking spot. He thought we were going to park there. I don't know why the locals (especially those working in the tourism industry) were unable to talk nicely to visitors. *Shaking my head*

At Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park.

We bought some souvenirs here and interestingly, met an ex-Toowoomba sales lady at Kathmandu! She didn't remember us, but we took a photo with her anyway... Small world!

Stopped by Kawarau Gorge as my little brother Afian wanted to do the bungee jumping. Pressured Hasben to do it too, but failed... Haha! He's usually very keen to try these things... Hmm...

Very proud lad!

Back on the road again, this time headed towards Mount Cook. Bought some fresh salmon on the way and stopped by Lake Pukaki - another very very very beautiful lake! I have always loved lakes and dams, so never could get tired of them.

 

We reached Hookers Valley in the evening and planned to do some hiking (or walking, tbh) but the sun was already setting behind the mountains and the day was getting colder. Wouldn't want to risk anything especially with the kids.

And we jumped for no reason...!

So we checked-in at Glentanner Park Centre for the night.

Day 10: 14th October 2017

Took some morning pictures of the snow-capped Mount Cook. Wished we stayed here longer so we could do some hiking along the trails. Not sure if it is possible with all the kiddies though.

 

Headed towards Christchurch and again, stores were closing when we arrived - around 5PM. Unlike Asian countries, New Zealand's towns and cities are very quiet after office hours. Kuala Lumpur is alive up until 10PM, everyday! With the city emptying very quickly, plus the challenge of driving the huge campervans on the city's road, we decided to end our NZ trip by checking-in at our last accomodation, North South Holiday Park.

 
Kebab for late lunch at Christchurch!

It was a busy night, packing all our belongings and mom's extra Malaysian food (Brahmin, Maggie etc...), there was a whole luggage of them still! She had asked us to bring them all back to Australia. Anyway, packing for 3 kids + myself, needless to say, I didn't get much sleep...

Day 11: 15th October 2017

Dropped-off our campervans and boarded our Jetstar flight to Auckland. Here is my video of the ever-changing landscape as we flew from Christchurch to Auckland.


Waited for hours at Auckland International Airport for our Air Asia flight back to Australia. Coincidently, my family were also on the same flight which transited in Gold Coast before heading towards KL. Missing them loads!

- End of our New Zealand adventure! -

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

New Zealand: North Island

Date: 5 -10 October 2017

Our ultimate 2017 trip was to New Zealand, both North and South Islands, bringing along 3 little (below 5) boys. Honestly, it was very tiring, especially with my 3 year old having bad eczema. So our adventure (or itinerary) for the 10 days covered Auckland City, Waitomo Caves, Hobbiton, Rotorua Maori Village, and the must-do South Island campervan experience that included Christchurch, Mount Cook, and Milford Sound. Here goes!

North Island, New Zealand

Day 1: 5th October 2017

Our 10am flight was from Gold Coast Coolangatta Airport to Auckland International Airport.


Arrived ahead 1day from the rest of the family who were travelling from Malaysia, purely a mistake during booking. Good news was, we had 1 extra day in Auckland City ;) We pre-booked our airport transfer online, this is a good tip as the van was ready when we arrived to take us straight to our accomodation. Link here.

Stayed at Bianco off Queen Serviced Apartments for this one extra night. Absolutely recommended as all the kids stayed free and the room was lovely for its rate.


Both Hasben and I were not feeling too well so we just rested for the rest of the day. Hasben walked to a nearby Asian Market to stock up some food while I ordered Domino's Pizza through their website to be delivered to the apartment. Since we did not have any transport yet, and Halal restaurants were not nearby, we ordered vegetarian pizza with gluten-free base. My son with the eczema, he is allergic to gluten, so we had quite little choice in food. The delivery costed about $10 I think, so yeah, not a bargain really.


Day 2: 6th October 2017

Checked-out from the hotel and left our luggages there to be picked-up later. Using the traditional paper map, walked our way to the city center for Auckland's Sky Tower. We had 2 strollers which are a necessity for all the walking we did. Our 5 year old was a champ, despite the occasional "Tired" whining, he did okay. On our way, stopped by the Central City Library for a toilet break.


Indian food for lunch at one of the malls along the way.


Enjoyed the city from above!


Walked back to our second apartment, Waldorf St Martin Apartment Hotel. The rest of our family landed around 4pm and picked-up our rented 12-seater van from the airport. Tomorrow, the road trip begins!

Day 3: 7th October 2017

Headed towards Waitomo to visit the glow worms. Made a few stop on the way, particularly Countdown (for groceries) and a halal butcher shop.


Toilet stop at Lake Ngaroto:


Arrived at Waitomo caves at 10am and joined the tour which was pre-booked online. All attractions in NZ can be purchased online, so we did not have to worry about all the entrance fees during the trip. This is highly recommended as some sessions were fully-booked when we arrived.


No strollers here as we will be riding a small boat through the caves. Prior to the boat ride, we had to walk for a bit in the dark cave while the guide provided some background information on the caves and glow worms. This part was a bit tricky as the kids got a bit bored and started making noises, which obviously was not welcomed by the guide or the rest of the visitors.

Lil Bro 1 with Lil Nephew 1 =)

Back on our van and headed for Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand!


Had some trouble with the accomodations, they were only expecting 2 people and was shocked to see 12 people instead! So, with Booking.com, we found a motel close by to accomodate us all. Truth be told, at this stage, I couldn't care less to remember the names of the motels we stayed in. It is a whole different experience when travelling with kids, you get tired easily, and this sort of made me forget to enjoy most things. I promised myself to try better next time! Anyway, once we have unloaded our luggages, it was already dark. The whole family went for a night stroll at the town center.


Waited for 12am to wake Hasben up and gave him his birthday present - North Face shoes that I successfully hid from him in my luggage (^u^) Happy 33rd birthday Babes!


Day 4: 8th October 2017

Mom cooked our breakfast in the motel, she was always worried that one of us was going to starve to death. After packing-up and checking-out, we had a bit of a stroll (again) around Lake Taupo Town Center and the stores nearby. It was mostly cloudy and rained a bit, so we couldn't really enjoy the view to the fullest.


Moving on, just a short drive later, we reached Huka Falls. We were not too adventurous to track the area, so the beautiful views are accessible with strollers. Love the emerald coloured waterfalls. Do be mindful of the children.


Back on the road, we headed for Rotorua for our Maori cultural experience. We did arrive a bit early and found ourselves a little Islamic Center to perform our prayers. We just needed to contact the person-in-charge (contact number displayed at the door of the center) for the passcode to enter the prayer hall.

Later, we visited Kuirau Park, New Zealand's only geothermal public park, meaning - it's free! So, if you do not have enough time or on a tight budget, this is a place to be to experience the bubbling geothermal activity (and its 'unique' smell) of North Island.


At 4pm, we reached the Tamaki Maori Village office, waited for the busses to arrive which brought us to the actual live village. It was a very good experience, to learn the Maori's culture and understand New Zealand better. There was a bit of walking throughout the tour and we found that small strollers were manageable.


After the show, we drove to Waikato and checked-in around 9pm.

Day 5: 9th October 2017

Woke up with a swollen eye and I blamed it on bed bugs! So here in Matamata, it can mean only one thing for us (especially Mom) - Hobbiton! We booked the 10am tour and arrived just in the nick of time, as the tour bus was about to depart to the movie set. We were praying hard that the rain would stop and thankfully, it did. However, a bit of sunshine would make the pictures more brilliant but, I'll take it! Definitely no strollers here and plenty of walking.


Our little ones did well, but near towards the end of the tour, Afi wanted to pee so you can imagine how Hasben felt as he had to rush straight to The Shire's Rest, interrupting his photo spree. 


The toilet at the cafe was so adorable, a must visit LOL! (Ignore my deformed right eye):

End of our Hobbiton tour.

After the tour, it was straight back to Auckland as the next morning, we needed to catch our domestic flight to South Island. For lunch, we ate tandoori and naan at Tandoori Hutt, Mount Roskill, located very close to a mosque.


The boys also had a haircut with the Palestinian barber right next door.


We strolled around Auckland City after struggling to find a parking spot. Most of the shops were closed by then, so after a few pictures, checked-in to our accomodation near the airport.


That night, we celebrated Kimi's 6th birthday + Hasben's belated birthday + Akiff's and WinZie's advance birthdays. The birthday boy had a great time unwrapping his pressies. Love you baby!


Day 6: 10th October 2017

Checked-out from the apartment early morning. The ladies were dropped-off at the airport to proceed with flight check-in while the guys went to return the van at the rental office. The van hire company sent them back to the airport for free. Our flight was delayed so it was near noon that we actually took-off to Christchurch.

To be continued!
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