10 days in South Island -New Zealand

miragerahul

Active Member
Day 1 and 2 -25th-26th May(Wanaka): Weather was really not on our side for the initial part of the trip and forecast was of heavy rain for next 3 days ,In wanaka we visited some of the famous spots and had to return by 3 P.M since rain was intermittent throughout the day. Meanwhile at airbnb our host had a lovely dog and tabby kitten which kept us occupied during the evening. We slept by 10 P.M since a long drive next day to fox glacier in gloomy weather was waiting for us. In winter day light is only between 8 A.M -5P.M so you really need to plan your travel and advisable time to travel is between 10- 4 P.M to avoid black ice on the road. With this on our minds and long drive for next 3 days we dozed off...
 

miragerahul

Active Member
27th May: Wanaka to Fox glacier though Haast Pass ~ 260 km -motel.

It was pouring the entire time that we were on the road but we did manage to cover lake wanaka and lake hawea look out point, also did blue pools walk which is 15 mins(it was good that we brought ponchos with us from Brisbane) each way from the car park. There are couple of waterfalls which is 5-10 mins from car park (fantail and Roaring Billy falls). We reached our motel at fox glacier around 5 P.M, At 100 NZD it was a ok deal but since rain was playing a dampener till now, We both were wondering whether rain Gods are really against us this time around. Slept @ 11 P.M after having staple dinner. Tomorrow we go to Franz Joseph glacier and will also cover Lake Matheson in the morning ! Not much drive tomorrow as stop for the night was Franz Joseph which is hardly 30kms from Fox glacier.
 
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miragerahul

Active Member
28th May Fox to Franz Joseph Glacier, stay ~ motel. Weather was overcast in the morning and it even rained the entire night. We checked out from motel by 10 A.M and moved towards Lake matherson which is only 2-3 km from the village. We got lucky for 1 hour as rain stopped between 10 A.M -12 P.M giving us window to cover Lake circuit which is around 40-50 mins on foot. After having coffee break at Cafe near lake we started towards Franz joseph glacier and that's when all hell break loose and it rained the entire afternoon and it continued till next morning , LOL. For dinner we went to one(and only) of the Indian restaurant, food as expected was nothing short of nightmare.
 
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miragerahul

Active Member
29th May : Franz Joseph - Malvern Hills (stay @ airbnb) ~350 km . Once again a long day of driving, We really wanted to enjoy West coast but rain has played major spoilsport till now, with heavy hearts we moved ahead towards Arthur's Pass, Finally after crossing Arthur's pass rain began to subside and we saw sun lights after good 3 days..We reached airbnb late in the night at 7:30 P.M as travel times in NZ are not at all what Google maps suggest. Roads are good but full of twists and turns. So very difficult to maintain average speed of more than 60km/hr. Anyways the cheapest accommodation for the entire trip at 53 AUD, A farm house with basic facilities but yes we witnessed million stars and milky way in the night. So Yayyy, we were happy and slept by 12 A.M tomorrow we go to Mt Cook (Highest Mountain in NZ @~ 13k Feet)
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miragerahul

Active Member
30th May: Malvern Hills - Mount cook village(stay @ Hermitage hotel) ~300 km - visited Lake Tekapo and Church. We checked out of airbnb on our own as host left for work early in the morning and we left their place by 9:30 to head towards Mt Cook. I have booked 2 nights at Mt cook so was very relaxed for today as I knew long driving hours are behind us after today. We reached Mt Cook Hermitage hotel (350 AUD for 2 nights ) after stopping for lunch at Twizel and after covering Lake Tekapo and Good Shepherd Church by 4:30 P.M.
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miragerahul

Active Member
Day 8: Back to Queenstown: Images are of mount cook in the morning and it was so beautiful because of fresh snowfall in the night/morning, we started from Mount cook at 11 A.M
and reached Queenstown at 6 P.M (Cost for 2 nights stay was 290NZD) (Remarkables Mountain Lodge )


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miragerahul

Active Member
1st and 2nd June : Queenstown

Reached Q'town in the evening around 6 P.M and weather was really wonderful, so we head out from the lodge which was around 14 km from town or 15-25 min depending upon traffic, Qtown is a touristy town and there were lots of people and since it was start of winter there were some events happening in town. We had our dinner at Bombay Palace in Frankton which was really good, I believe for veg people Bombay palace at Qtown and Wanaka is a very good option to have some decent food during their stay in South Island. Meal would cost close to 40-50 $ for 2 persons which is quite reasonable.

Our plan was to explore the town next day but late in the night when I checked weather at milford sound our plan got changed since forecast was of bright and sunny weather, For starters to give you a perspective it rains normally more than 180 days round the year at Milford. But now the main problem is the distance, since it is around 270 km from Qtown its very difficult to cover this distance as per experts on trip advisor forum. People suggests that its always a good option to take a coach tour from Queenstown which normally cost 150-200 NZD/ person for Coach to Milford - Cruise(at Milford which is around 90 mins) and back to Qtown. So normally Coaches start at 7 A.M from Qtown reach Milford by 11 A.M then after doing cruise from 11:30 -1 P.M coach starts return journey by 2 P.M and normally back to Qtown by 7 P.M.
But normally these tours needs to be pre-booked and since we were thinking about going to Milford at 10 P.M in the night , booking coach was out of question for us.
I was apprehensive of this drive to Milford because I have read at many places that it is folly to even think about this round trip during summers in a day and here we are starting to believe that we could do this in winters, day light breaks at 8 A.M and Black ice is a major problem on the roads in South Island till atleast 10 A.M. We started at around 7 A.M in the pitch dark from the lodge , distance to cover was around 270 kms and its advisable to reach there by 11 A.M to catch 11:30 cruise. Luckily enough Black ice was there but since it was raining I was able to manage good speed and reached Te Anau by 8:45 A.M which was around 159 Km , It was a non- stop drive and since traffic was almost negligible we reached there in very good time. There we stopped for fuel and wasted around 25 mins in booking cruise which was totally unnecessary which I realized after reaching Milford. Anyways cruise cost was 69 NZD/ person with Southern Discoveries and we have to reach Milford by 11:15 A.M to make it to this cruise at 11:30 A.M. Now as per the posts which I have read on different forums drive from Te Anau to Milford is quite dangerous and it normally takes more than 2 hours to reach Milford. But since we are not the kind of people who have put much thoughts on what other people say in different forums which you might have realized by now because of amount of non-planning which we had shown since last night :D. Anyways drive was really beautiful and there were marking at many places for Black Ice so one had to drive carefully but since as you already know " that expert driver like me " do not need to worry about Black ice and other warnings that mere mortals gives over and over again :p. Drive is fantastic and we managed to reach by 10:45 A.M. Parked our vehicle and reached Cruise terminal which is around 8-10 mins walk from Parking spot. We had to wait for 20 mins before they started boarding and I explored the area at terminal and got to know that cruises with Jucy would have cost even less (around 20$ less/ person) and both of them have around 90 mins of cruise time. But this availability may not be guaranteed during summer time may be because it was winter and there were not many people around we could have got a better deal right there at terminal. Anyways cruise started at 11:30 A.M and there were free coffee and Tea on Board. Cruise takes you to the point where it opens up to the Tasman Sea and then takes a U-turn to come back to terminal.
I think though we planned this trip at the last moment its really not advisable to miss Milford if the weather forecast is sunny. Though I am not sure about the rainy day and roads from Te Anau is quite dangerous in some way and since speed limit is 100 Km/hr you might find an idiot(this might apply to me too :p ) or two who continue to tailgate you till the time you don't give them the pass. Also a word of advise , there were cop cars present on this road and there were doing spot fines for over speeding so one really need to be careful while driving in NZ. We started from 1:30 P.M and then return journey was a relaxed one since the objective was already completed and we had planned to explore the town in the evening. After a quick stop at Chasm and some of the look outs between Kingston and Q'town .. we finally managed to reach by 5:30 P.M at our lodge. Tomorrow we go back to Brisbane...
Note : Will put up pictures of Milford in the evening today!!
 
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miragerahul

Active Member
3rd June : Fly back to Brisbane

We checked out from the lodge at around 10:30 A.M and headed straight in to the town. Our return flight was at 4:30 P.M and we had to return car by 1:30. So we still had around 2-3 hours to explore Q'town. We explored the town till 1 P.M and then stopped at fuel station which was 1 KM from Apex car rentals. Fuel cost in NZ is mind -boggling average fuel cost range between 2.2-2.6 NZD /L . I think due to its remoteness the prices there are just crazy but anyways filled the tank and took our car to Apex car rentals. While handing over the car keys, lady at the counter came out and started checking out the car but since this fact has already been established that car was being driven by a masterclass driver(LOL :D) , she could not find anything wrong with the car but alas after sniffing inside the car her mood changed and she glared at me and asked 'Did you smoke in the car'?. I looked at her with a startled reaction and quickly started moving my neck in horizontal direction. But she was not satisfied with my neck movement ;I guess she wanted to see my neck move in vertical direction so that they could charge 250NZD for cleaning. She went inside and brought 3 more people who opened all gates and started sniffing inside, By now I was quite angry/worried since we had to catch a flight in next 2-2.5 hours and here we are talking about these petty issues. I was quite adamant about it since I don't smoke and there was no question of smell inside the car. So finally they agreed in unison that it was alright and I started running towards the airport where my wife was waiting with the luggage. I wasn't sure whether they would deduct the money or not because they kept the card details and if they wanted they could deduct money as per the contract agreement, So to be on safer side I immediately blocked the card after reaching airport :p. After clearing customs we boarded our flight at 4:30 and reached Brisbane by 6:30 P.M and finally reached home by Uber by 7:30ish. My home is only 12 kms from airport and Uber normally charges 22-27$ for that trip.

Final Note : Though NZ is a beautiful country but as per me mountains in our country wins the contest hands down.!! Till next time ....
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