South New Zealand 12 days Itinerary (Part II)
Continuing from my previous post, here is part II of my South New Zealand itinerary!
My South New Zealand Route Map for your reference:
Milford Sound (Rating: 7/10)
Milford sound is a fjord and it's known for its heavenly-like scenery around the area and the towering Mitre Peak, along with waterfalls that can be seen up close. Milford Sound cruise is a popular day trip from Queenstown or Te Anau. There are many tour companies that run the cruise tour and we went with Mitre Peak tour for its relatively smaller size cruise, which means less crowded and the cruise went further than most other cruises too. According to the tour guide, it is mostly rainy in the Milford Sound and it is even known as the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand and one of the wettest in the world. Due to the nature of its weather, the sky is often seen gloomy. However, it is still a photography heaven, especially for photographers. Whereas in my personal opinion, as much as the view and surrounding are beautiful, I find it quite monotonous after a while, and I reckon the view paired with a clearer sky would look a tad better too, tho when it rains waterfall would be seen streaming down the mountains, which makes a very unique sight too.
Lake Hayes / Jacksons Orchards / Cromwell (Rating: 8/10)
Jacksons Orchards was for photography purpose, ha! We got to know about this place from other tenants in our air-BnB, saying it's a fantastic spot for photos, and since it is not far from Queenstown, we decided to take an alternative route so that we could stop at Jacksons Orchards. We were so glad we changed our route because it led us to the beautiful Lake Hayes with the perfect autumn colours reflection, as well as a few wineries in Cromwell and we were carried away by the beauty of this rather secluded area. We got to cancel our initial plan to Nugget Point Lighthouse and went straight to Dunedin instead as we lost track of time in Cromwell and realized it would be too late to arrive at the lighthouse to catch the sunset view.
Accommodation: Airbnb - The Rock 2, Dunedin : Get MYR120 Travel Credit NOW!
Tunnel Beach (7/10)
Only 10 minutes drive from Dunedin, Tunnel Beach has become a compulsory attraction for travelers who visit Dunedin. It was named Tunnel Beach because you can only access to the beach via tunnel. Hence the best time to visit is during low tide so you are able to walk down onto the beach without getting your feet wet. Do take note the rocks at the beach can be very slippery so it is advisable to wear sturdy shoes and be extra careful when climbing over the rocks. Other than that, it has sea-carved sandstone cliffs and rock arches which make this place very picturesque. There is a walking track which leads you to Tunnel Beach and the journey takes about 1 hour return from the car park. It sure was easy to walk down but damn, what a work out when we hiked back up to the car park. As if it wasn't difficult enough for us, it started drizzling when we were hiking up, oh great.
Dunedin (Rating: 5/10)
The weather started to get nasty and the wet weather continued for the next couple of days, meh. To be very honest here, I was pretty disappointed in Dunedin. Given the positive reviews that I have come across on the internet, I actually expected something much, much more. To us, there wasn't much to do there really. We went to the famous Railway Station and reckon it was overrated. While the steepest street in the world sounds interesting, it really is just a very steep street that's all. But there were some good eateries to save the day!
Recommended cafe and restaurants:
- Cadbury Cafe - Love their hot triple chocolate which is a combination of white, milk and dark chocolate. Really good!
- Best Cafe - A no frail cafe for the best fish and chips and bluff oysters in Dunedin. You won't go wrong with a mixture of natural and battered oysters!
- Lone Star - Hearty portion and popular for steak and lamb, highly recommended!
Moeraki Boulders (Rating: 5.5/10)
It was a Saturday morning. We initially planned to visit their weekend Otago Farmers Market but the weather was not doing us a favour. Hence we decided to scrap the plan and headed straight to our next stop - Moeraki Boulders, hoping that the rain would have stopped by the time we arrived. Unfortunately, it was still drizzling when we arrived so we made a quick visit to the beach to see the unusually large and spherical boulders lying along the stretch of Koekohe Beach. In fact they looked like huge dinosaur eggs to me, with the cracked or broken ones looked like hatched eggs.
Nearby MUST EAT: Lockies Takeaways - Seriously the best best best Fish & Chips we have had during our entire NZ trip! We love the battered mussels too! So YUM!
30, London St, Hampden 9410, New Zealand.
Opening hours: 11AM - 7PM daily
Lake Pukaki (Rating: N/A)
Only beautiful if Mount Cook is visible and the sky is clear. Hence, I think it would be unfair for me to rate Lake Pukaki as we did not see the best of it due to the gloomy weather. However, Alpine Salmon did make up for it with their fresh salmon and caviar. Highly recommended for raw fish eaters if you are there.
Accommodation: Omahau Downs - highly recommended - beautiful views of Mount Cook and starry night if the weather is clear.
Hooker Valley Track / Lake Tekapo (Rating: 5/10)
Rain in New Zealand sure is persistent. We were surprised to see snow (in April) when we arrived at Lake Tekapo. As the weather was not promising, there was nothing much we could do. We literally wandered around aimlessly, kept hoping that the rain would stop so we could go for Hooker Valley Track. Unfortunately that did not happen. However, if the day is clear, I highly urge you to do the Hooker Valley Track as it's known as one of the best hikes in New Zealand. In the 3 hours return journey, you get to experience this rugged land of ice and rocks by passing through Hooker Valley and walk beside the Hooker River, ending at the glacier lake. It was a bummer we did not get to experience it as we didn't think it was worth the time and effort going for it in an overcast day, as we would literally see nothing and the view would be spoiled by the grey sky and clouds.
Accommodation: Tailor Made Tekapo Backpackers
Due to the limited choices of accommodation, if you wish to stay around Lake Tekapo, do book your accommodation in advance before accommodations run out.
Gem Alpaca Stud (Rating: 7/10)
Meet and greet the adorable Alpaca, Llama and sheep, and even the cria (baby Alpaca/ Llama)! Located on the Main Highway between Tekapo and Christchurch, this farm was a perfect stop over as we travelled through. Farm visit took approximately an hour and we spent one good hour feeding and patting those cute darlings, as well as gaining interesting knowledge about them. Tour operates on the hour so do give them a call before you go so they know to expect you. For more info: https://www.gemalpacas.nz/home.html
Recommended eateries nearby:
- Fairlie Bakehouse - very popular for their pies - taste good but honestly did not blow our minds
- Cafe Verde @ Geraldine - A very pretty cafe set amongst a garden - I had the best Salmon Risotto here (their special menu of the day) - Worth a try!
Visiting Christchurch was not in our plan initially as we did not want to push too hard on the limited timing. But it turned out that our flight was delayed so we had extra time to spend in Christchurch. We visited the Cardboard Cathedral which was built to replace the badly damaged Christchurch's iconic Cathedral due to Earthquake in year 2011. This eye-catching cathedral is literally made up of cardboard tubes, which amazed us that it could support the frame and structure of the building. After visiting this fascinating cathedral, we proceeded to New Regent Street which is Christchurch's pedestrian mall. It is a quaint street with Art Deco buildings and shops that is on the tram route. Most shops were already closed when we arrived hence the street was unusually quiet. Nonetheless, we managed to grab some hokey pokey from 'Rollickin' Gelato' before leaving Christchurch!
Important Information & Travel Tips
- Car rental : Go Rental NZ
- New Zealanders drive on left hand side of the road (same as Malaysia)
- Due to the road condition in NZ (narrow or windy roads), it's easy to underestimate drive time when looking at the map hence always buffer extra driving time on the road when you plan
- Driving a motorhome takes even longer time on the road as maximum highway speed limit for motorhome is 90km/h as opposed to 100km/h for normal cars.
- Driving and staying in a motorhome is not necessarily cheaper than driving a car and staying in Airbnb or motels (so do your calculations precisely!).
- Weather is unpredictable in New Zealand so the trick is to wear layers to keep yourself warm so you are able to take off layers when the weather becomes warmer later in the day.
- Except in exceptional circumstances, New Zealand tap water is universally safe to drink. Usually there will be a note stating on taps which the water is not drinkable.
- Sun sets at different time during the year in different season. Daylight hours are longer in summer and shorter in winter. Thus, you may want to take this into consideration when planning your journey.
- Autumn is known to be the best season to visit New Zealand for its spectacular foliage colours. The peak period for autumn colours is usually between mid and end April, tho it may extend till beginning of May.
- Most sought-after activities (like skydiving or heli-hiking) in New Zealand are very weather dependant hence you may want plan for an extra day or have a contingency plan should there be any cancellation or changes due to the unforeseen weather.
- Weather is relatively dry in New Zealand so cracked skin, cracked lips or dry hair especially during winter months are not uncommon. Make sure you pack the necessary items like lip balm, rich moisturizing cream and hair conditioner with you.
Till next time~
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