Everyday Is A Miracle

Be happy and enjoy every single bite of it


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New Zealand Road Trip Day 11: Christchurch

So this was our last full day in New Zealand and if you are planning to visit New Zealand anytime soon, I recommend spending an entire day exploring Christchurch. (also, I know the boy is wearing an Israeli shirt. This was a souvenir from Israel/Palestine and it is not in any way political or religious). It is the second largest city in the country but it is not as crowded as Auckland or Wellington and much of the city is still recovering from the Canterbury earthquake maybe forso don’t be surprised when you see many construction sites and most buildings there are not tall or finished yet due to earthquake hazards. Nevertheless there are still many things to do here so here is how you should spend it:

  1. Ballantyne, High Street, Manchester Street
  2. Christchurch Tramway
  3. Bridge of Remembrance
  4. Christchurch Cathedral and the new and magnificent Turanga Library
  5. New Regent Street
  6. Lunch at the many restaurants around the city
  7. Christchurch Art Gallery
  8. Botanic Gardens
  9. Canterbury Museum
  10. Victoria Square

First of all, buy tickets to get on the Christchurch Tramway. For every paying adult, three children up to the age of fourteen can ride free. You can get on and get off at any of the seventeen stops. The first tram departs at Cathedral Junction at ten in the morning from April to September and at nine from October to March. We took a taxi from Christchurch TOP 10 Holiday Park to Ballantynes, which is an old department store and walked around Manchester Street and High Street before finally arriving at Cathedral Junction.

Ballantynes……………………..Christmas is here already……………..

The department store with its Christmas decorations

Manchester Street

Cathedral Junction, the first and the last stop for the tram

The booking office

The tram arrived after fifteen minutes

The inside of the tram

We went one round around the city before getting off at the Bridge of Remembrance (tram stop four). The conductor will tell you about the history of the city, the names of various locations and future development programs.

A mural of a bird that was originally from Australia but was blown off course by strong winds and ended up in New Zealand

Christchurch Arts Centre

A building with a Maori sculpture in front of it

Statue of Robert Falcon Scott, the second man to explore Antarctica

Large balls at Cathedral Square

Bridge of Remembrance, highlighting all the wars New Zealand fought in (Palestine, Egypt, Gallipoli, Malaya, Korea, Borneo, Vietnam, Italy, The Pacific, The Atlantic, Europe, Mesopotamia, France, Belgium, Greece, Crete and North Africa)

The Avon River from the bridge with war memorials on both banks

Later on we saw two dogs swimming here

After that we took the tram back to Cathedral Square.

The tram as it arrived at the Bridge of Remembrance

The ruins of Christchurch Cathedral

Turanga Library

Inside the library

You can even play games in the library! (there was also a cafe, an interactive digital guide of Christchurch and its history, a table football game,etc)

A viewing deck in the library

I didn’t recognize any of the books available at the library but it’s a good place to go to anyway because of the views and it’s an interesting library.

So then we looked for a place to have lunch, cutting across New Regent Street along the way. It has Spanish-style architecture and has many boutiques and cafes.

Walking to New Regent Street

New Regent Street

A cafe along the street

Shops along the street

Old houses style along the street

There were restaurants, souvenir shops, and even a cookie shop along the street

Even though the road was narrow, but the tram was still able to pass this street and occupied 1/3 of the street

Okay, here is the important part. Set aside enough time to find lunch as there are limited options in Christchurch. We spent half an hour walking around the city looking for a good place to have lunch. Eventually we found a Japanese restaurant in a mall. And New Zealand ramen is actually better than ramen in Singapore!

Japanese restaurant in Christchurch, and as I said earlier, you can find free water for drinking in any restaurants or tourist attraction places

Ramen and chicken karaage were so delicious

So after lunch we went back to Cathedral Junction and took the tram to the Christchurch i-SITE (tram stop 11) to visit the arts centre, botanic gardens and museum.

A mural on a wall on the way back to Cathedral Junction

We didn’t view the art pieces in the arts centre but we did go and take pictures of the building.

A guy hitchhiking on the tram, it was so funny because he waved and the people waved back to him along the streets

Christchurch Arts Centre

The inner courtyard of the centre

Part of it was still under construction

The cafe

The Botanic Gardens

Peacock Fountain

A tree with large branches

A flower bed

Kayaking on the Avon River

Punting on the Avon

A bell

Stairs at the garden

If you only have time to visit one place in Christchurch, though, you must visit the Canterbury Museum. It was located just next to the Botanic Garden. We didn’t want to come in at first because it didn’t look so interesting, but my mom insisted that we should just see it first. It turned out that the museum was so good and there were many interesting stuffs, and we spent hours here, and we would like to spend more time but it was late and we had to catch the tram before the service ended. By the way, the entrance was free.

The museum showcases many exhibitions, including Maori artifacts, colonial items, a replica of an old street in Christchurch, an Egyptian mummy, dinosaur fossils, gemstones, Antarctic rocks and animal specimens. it can keep both children and adults entertained throughout the day.

Canterbury Museum from the Botanic Gardens

Skeleton of a moa bird

Wooden carving of a dog and a canoe stern post

A Maori talisman

An early European hut

A model of the H.M. Bark Endeavour and other colonial artifacts

Weapons and warfare of the Maori

A tunnel replicating a nebula cloud

Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House. We watched a five-minute video about how Fred and Myrtle Flutey collected numerous Paua shells and hung them on their walls

Inside the house

Collecting this many Paua shells seemed impossible

We continued to the other exhibition site which was the old Christchurch Street.

Yes, we could actually get on the bike to take pictures

Riding the world’s first bicycle model

Riding a (fake) horse on an old Christchurch street

This is how the city would have looked like 100 years ago, during the days of European colonization

A “store” in old Christchurch (it was a China Glass Store)

Other room that we visited: Colonial relics

Objects of vertu

Antarctic ski-doo

Antarctic expedition vehicles(bottom) and boats(top right)

Dogs and humans in Antarctica, all the replicas were amazingly so real………………

Including this one…………..

Wreckage of a boat in Antarctica

Oldest fossil ever discovered in Antarctica

Suits and motorbikes of New Zealand’s motorcyclists

The skeleton and collar of a husky named Toby who lived in Antarctica

The Canyon Diablo Meteorite

Giant quartz crystals

Allosaurus(front) , (back,left to right) amethyst crystals,petrified wood, Mesozoic plant fossils, ammonites, fossil crabs, Xiphactinus fossil

Fluroscent minerals

Gold nuggets

A beautiful quilt

An old bus stop

The mummy exhibition (not so big area)

Penguins of the Southern Oceans

So as you can see they showcase a variety of exhibitions and displays thus this is a place you must visit. Our final stop of the day was Victoria Square (tram stop sixteen).

Victoria Square

A statue of James Cook

Maori structure on the banks of the Avon

A telephone booth

We got on the last tram ride of the day back to Cathedral Junction and then took a taxi to Northlands Mall.

Shopping at Countdown Papanui on our way back

Back at our favourite fish and chips cafe (see previous post)

Evening football with tons of penalty drama

So that was our eleventh and final full day in Christchurch. Tomorrow we’ll talk about Britz Christchurch, Christchurch Airport and conclude our trip. Also, since you’ve made it this far, remember that Chinese family from Scotland? We had met them in Carters Beach, Franz Josef Glacier, Queenstown and now, Christchurch! Turns out, they’ve been to Mount Cook, Dunedin, Oamaru and Fairlie, which sounds like a dreadful driving itinerary. But hey, at least the man’s told us a few interesting stories about life in a campervan with five women. Once again, like and comment about which country you want us to travel to next. Christmas is coming so Merry Christmas and be grateful if you are in a snowy place because it’s 34 degrees Celsius here!(about 94 in Fahrenheit) Oh well…

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New Zealand Road Trip Day 10: Tekapo-Christchurch

So the boy/photographer is soon going to go to secondary school. He got quite a good score in PSLE so he is able to choose from all the good schools in Singapore. Time flies…

Anyway it’s time to write about our last time driving on the state highways of New Zealand. We went from the small village of Tekapo to the city of Christchurch. The drive takes approximately three hours but do set aside time to see Lake Tekapo in the morning. Also, don’t do a city tour on this day as you may not have enough time to see much. (don’t believe us? we have firsthand experience and will tell you about it in our next post)

Pai te ata from Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo in the morning

Panoramic view of the lake

The lake is stunning at dawn

Come early in the morning before all the Asian tourists wake up so you can have the lake all to yourself

New Zealand without the tourists is like a dream that popped out of your mind

Kicking pinecones in the forest

Fields of lupins

Kids playing at a playground

As we mentioned in the previous post, we had a rather unpleasant experience at the holiday park the previous day and it wasn’t going to be different today. We were rather eager to leave the place and head on to Christchurch.

On the state highway for the last time… The shimmering blue lake, towering, snowy mountain peaks, rocky beaches, fields of purple and pink lupins and emerald green forests make a great photo opportunity

A stream at Fairlie

The Orari River in Geraldine

The Anglican Centre in Harewood

We already did some research before of where to see kiwi bird, and the other options beside Franz Josef and Queenstown were in Christchurch. So we picked Willowbank as it had more New Zealand native animals and closer to where we were going to stay. The price was also cheaper than the one in Queenstown.

So then we finally arrived in Christchurch and we went straight to the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve to see a native New Zealand bird so famous, it is the country’s favourite animal: the kea! J/k it’s the kiwi.

But unlike the kea, kiwis are nocturnal and hence live in dark enclosures. As such we weren’t allowed to photograph them.

Welcome to Christchurch!

The souvenir store and ticketing area

Merry Christmas from Christchurch!

Tame eels

The duck pond

Sebastopol Geese

A goose with an emu

Fallow deer

Mute Swan

Cape Barren Geese

Wallabies

Another lonely wallaby

Capuchin monkeys

Terrapins

Macaw

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Scarlet Macaw

Ring-tailed lemurs from Madagascar

Siamang Gibbons

Kunekune Pigs

An old tractor

Green Iguana

Alpaca

Alpacas

The picnic area

Auckland Island Pigs

American Miniature Horse

Hanks Hut, a replica of a hut in Antarctica

Kakariki

Keas and their zookeeper

Tuatara

And then it was time to see the world famous weka! J/k it’s the kiwi. We were not allowed to take photos and the exhibit was dark but there are a few ways to double your chances of spotting a kiwi.

  1. Follow a tour group. The zookeepers will point out the kiwis.
  2. Let your eyes adjust to thee dark.
  3. Know what a kiwi looks like.
  4. Listen for the sound of kiwis burrowing in the dirt.

And now time to move on.

Weka

Kereru

White Faced Heron

Maori village near the exit

So after all that we left the wildlife reserve. I recommend going here if you have enough time to do so.

A thorough search on Campermate allowed us to find Christchurch TOP 10 Holiday Park not far from Willowbank. So we went there to spend the night.

This one was also one of our most favorite holiday park to stay, especially because of the facilities such as big kitchen and bathrooms, nice surrounding, and also big playground for kids to play. We loved the big soccer field, the giant chess, the ping pong table, and the big area where we could stroll in the evening or morning.

It was also very close (15 minutes) walk to the mall and big supermarkets and also places to eat. We found a good and cheap fish and chips shop nearby.

St Silas Church on the way to Papanui, where our holiday park was located

Christchurch TOP 10 Holiday Park

Drive-thru check in

The reception area

The powered sites with picnic benches and tables

The kitchen

Giant chess

The football pitch

Saving penalties (at least fifteen)

TV room

We played table tennis at the Games Room

A playground with a slide

Jumping pillow and children’s playground

The swimming pool (heated pool)

The dining area (indoor and outdoor) in the kitchen

Our dinner was basically just to finish everything in the fridge. So we cooked soup and hard boiled eggs (and fish and chips of course)

There were also pots and pans and cooking equipment (and a rice cooker) in the kitchen. Since it would most likely be the last stop for most travelers, they left many things in the kitchen cabinets that we could take for free in we needed too, such as salt, pepper, sauces, eggs, noodles, etc.

Look for this cabinet if you happen to be in this holiday park

After a while, we went shopping at the local Pak n Save supermarket.

The very quiet Papanui town

Houses in Christchurch. In Singapore, hardly anyone lives on landed property

Bus stop near the holiday park

A neighbourhood in Christchurch

Northlands Mall

Christmas at the mall

Pak n Save Papanui

A cheap fish and chips restaurant near the mall. A good place to buy dinner

Another neighbourhood in Christchurch

Fish and chips for dinner, the portion was so big that it was difficult to finish everything

So that was Day 10 in New Zealand! Like and comment below where we should go next year (or the year after that). We are considering Iceland. Tomorrow we’ll write about how to make the most out of your trip in Christchurch and where to explore in Christchurch. Merry Christmas and have a happy New Year!


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New Zealand Road Trip Day 9: Queenstown-Pukaki-Tekapo

So we’ve written about all our experiences from Auckland to Queenstown and now it’s time to write about Lakes Pukaki and Tekapo. These are two magnificent lakes that are way bluer than your average lakes. There are also activities near Tekapo for sightseeing and Lake Tekapo is also in the world’s largest dark sky reserve so stars are bound to show up. No photos of the stars, unfortunately, as phone cameras are not ideal for stargazing.

Shotover River

Lake Hayes

Along the way we passed by the Kawarau River and the Roaring Meg. Look for signs to the lookout and stop by here if you have time.

The parking area to see the Roaring Meg. There was also a hiking track but we didn’t go there at all

The Roaring Meg or Te Wai a Korokio or The stream that roared is the turbulent stream that both drives this hydro electric power station and merges with the Kawarau River. The Maori name, Te Wai a Korokio means the stream of Korokio.

The Roaring Meg

Kawarau River

Photos of the Roaring Meg at the Kawarau River

The Kawarau River between Queenstown and Cromwell

We continued on towards Cromwell and Lake Dunstan. Stop by at a lookout for great views over the city and lake.

Welcome to Cromwell!

Lake Dunstan

Why all lakes in here were so beautiful?

Thankfully, it was sunny although the wind was quite strong and still very cold. But we would prefer this than the rainy days that we experienced for 2 days

Our next stop was to see the also famous Lake Pukaki. There was also a salmon cafe in Lake Pukaki, so let’s compare the one in Lake Pukaki with the one that we visited previously.

One lane bridge (again) to Lake Pukaki

Preparing lunch before we explored the lake

Salmon teriyaki for lunch

Mt. Cook Salmon……………….The salmon cafe also sold sashimi (which you can eat in the dining benches outside) but no coffee

It was only a small cafe with limited options and the price was also more expensive than the one we visited in Lake Paringa

We didn’t buy anything at the salmon cafe and continued to explore the lake and the surrounding. It was quite crowded with tourists in small cars, campervans, and even buses. Maybe they wanted to visit the salmon cafe, although we still preferred the one we visited in Lake Paringa few days before.

Welcome to Pukaki!

The also very beautiful Lake Pukaki. We visited so many lakes but were were never once bored with the views

Someone was extremely happy…………….

It was sunny but also very cold

Outdoor dining area

The very blue water in Lake Pukaki

Brave yourself and climb down the rocks to be as near as possible to the lake

Mount Cook behind the lake

A statue of a Himalayan Tahr which is considered to be an endangered species in New Zealand

Bye bye Lake Pukaki because we were going straight to…………..

another lake (yes, another lake where we would spend the night), and that was Lake Tekapo.

Fields of lupins along the way

Welcome to Tekapo!

The bridge in Lake Tekapo

The lake view from outside our campsite for the night

All the lakes that we visited were so clean

So peaceful and calm

Up close and personal with nature

The beautiful Lake Tekapo

It was cold so we went to Tekapo Springs, which had several hot pools with mountain views so you can relax. There were three hot pools. one of which could only be accessed by adults. Children could play in two cooler pools as they provide balls and a water play area.

People in the hot pools

Tekapo Springs

Notes from someone aged twelve and contributed a lot more than you thought I could to this blog:

After that we headed for the Church of the Good Shepherd. It was supposed to be a tranquil and holy site until it was discovered by the people of Asia who practically ruined the area and basically did not allow anyone to take a good shot. (site note: Includes my mother. I said I would quit writing if she put any photos of the place with people in it. I am a good negotiator.) Anyway, we I had to wait a long time to get good shots of the church. Without people the place is really wonderful until your mother forces you to get up there, ruin everyone’s shot, and pose for a picture. Some of the people seemed annoyed and I thought, I’m thinking the same thing as you guys so don’t blame me!

The Church of the Good Shepherd

The inside of the church

On the shores of Lake Tekapo with the church on the right

A bridge over Lake Tekapo

A lonely dog statue near the church

After that we went to the township of Tekapo to look around the village.

A sheep mural on the outer wall of a public toilet

Left to right: the extinct moa bird, a kiwi and a sheep

A Chinese restaurant

A supermarket

The township in the evening

The town was filled with Asian people, even the people working at the stores are Asian! Tekapo is basically a large version of Chinatown in New Zealand. So we went to Lake Tekapo Motels and Holiday Park, the only holiday park around here. It was dreadful! The toilets were unisex, it was way too crowded, the kitchens were dirty after some guys from China didn’t clear up after themselves, and the distance between the toilets and the powered sites was way too far! If you are planning on visiting Tekapo, I suggest continuing on to Fairlie and get a better holiday park.

The reception area

The powered sites

Camping at Tekapo

The holiday park at night

At night (about thirty minutes past eleven) go outside for short walk with a flashlight. Look up and be amazed by the constellations in the night sky. Singapore is a metropolitan city so we never see any stars. Here, you can see Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Ursa Major, Pisces, Aquarius, Libra, Perseus… We don’t have any photos as phone cameras cannot be used for stargazing but this is the only good thing about staying the night at Tekapo.

So that was Day 9. Like and comment below plus follow the blog to be the first to read about our annual (sometimes biannual) holidays. Tomorrow we will be talking about Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch and the holiday park there!


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New Zealand Road Trip Day 8: Wanaka-Queenstown

Yes, was now the eight day of our road trip in New Zealand. Today would be very interesting since we were going for the shortest drive of our trip from Wanaka to the adventure capital of New Zealand: Queenstown. The drive takes about one hour and didn’t really involve much scenery so the highlight was Queenstown itself.

The drive from WakandaWanaka to Queenstown

We passed by a church in Arrowtown

Shotover River

At first, we planned to drive to Te Anau then Milford Sound from Queenstown. We wanted to join the cruise in Milfod Sound, but after some considerations, we chose to stay in Queenstown instead and spend the day riding the gondola, skyline, and luge. The driving to Milford Sound would take around 4 hours, and after 8th days on the road, the driver and the passengers were quiet tired to spend so much time on the road again, and decided to enjoy the day in this beautiful nice little town. It was the best decision though as we really enjoyed one relaxing day in Queenstown.

From Wanaka to Queenstown, we passed by a small town called Frankton which had 3 big supermarkets. Do stop here to stock up and do your grocery shopping as we didn’t see any big supermarkets in Queenstown (we didn’t even find a small one, but maybe we missed it).

When we arrived at Queenstown we headed straight for the Skyline Luge but there was limited parking space so we had to drive around town before deciding to go to Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park. You can check in early, park your campervan there and walk to the Skyline Luge and gondola.

Welcome to Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park!

The above picture shows the reception area. It cost us NZD 100 for three adults and one child staying for one night. It was the most expensive one during our trip, but the facilities and the cleanliness were top notch. We chose it as the best holiday park that we’ve stayed in during the holiday in terms of cleanliness, facilities, and because they let us checked in early and park our car inside. It was also very close to tourist attractions, the lake, the city center, shops, and restaurants. The campsite itself was also very pretty with lost of flowers (especially roses) and herb garden.

Roses at the entrance

The motels and more flowers

We were falling in love with all the beautiful flowers inside the campsite

Herb garden…………….free to pick

The toilets, kitchen and playground

Our powered site, can you spot the gondola terminal above the trees?

The motel for those who didn’t bring campervans

Big clean kitchens with oven, microwave, fridge, boiling water, and even a rice cooker. There was free stuff in the corner left by previous tourists

Outdoor dining area / picnic area

On the way out

We headed straight to the gondola terminal before exploring the city. The gondola opened until 8 pm in summer.

Lord of the Fries just outside the holiday park

Skyline Queenstown

The queue to the gondola

The view from the gondola. If you look down you may see some mountain goats

Queenstown gondola, we purchased the photos for NZD 22

At the top there were restaurants, lookout points, shops and more, but most of all……………..we would ride the skyline and luge from here. It is a must visit if you’re in Queenstown because the view was unbelievably breathtaking.

Lookout over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu

View of the the city, the lake and the gondola terminal

Lake Wakatipu in the background

Ride the gondola to the top to be able to see this beautiful view

The background was like a painted picture

And indeed…………..God painted everything beautifully and we were so awed by his wonderful creation

Time to go on the Skyline!

Daddy was finally brave enough to ride the skyline too (main reason: he didn’t want to climb up to the luge terminal)

The luge track with views over the city and lake

If you are afraid of heights then close your eyes during the gondola ride and walk up the hill instead of taking the skyline. It’s cheaper but can be exhausting. There’s a Skyline Luge back home in Singapore but there are no views and it is less exciting. The skyline also starts from ground level and there is no terminal so this one is ten times better.

Going on the luge. We both started at the same time.

Two minutes later…

There are two tracks: the Blue and the Red track. On your first ride, you have to go on the blue track and on subsequent rides the red one. The Red track is more challenging so you have to ensure you know how to operate the luge.

After the luge it started drizzling so we went for lunch at the Market Kitchen restaurant.

In front of the restaurant after a luge ride

Market Kitchen restaurant. They sell fish and chips, pizzas, pies and Indian food

Buying fish and chips for lunch

Fish and chips for lunch, the portion was quite big

World map in front of the souvenir shop

After lunch we went for another two rounds of luge. One luge ride is never enough so buy a ticket for at least three luge rides. This attraction provides a great view over Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown so even if you can’t afford the luge, just go on the gondola.

Lake Wakatipu in the rain from the lookout point near the souvenir shop

A weird model of the gondolas

The gondolas going up and down the mountain

We went down to see the city itself. By the way, remember those Chinese people from Scotland we met at Carters Beach? We met them at Franz Josef Glacier and we met them again at our holiday park. Coincidence?

This odd car outside the gondola departure was actually an advertisement to the Kiwi Wildlife Park which cost NZD 55 per person (we did ask for the price and decided not to come as it was very expensive, but we would finally see the kiwi in another place which was way cheaper than this one) 

Walking from Skyline Queenstown to the city centre, we had to climb down the stairs

The stairs to Queenstown City Center

Queenstown city in the afternoon

We went to a restaurant called Fergburger. It was very famous and hence crowded so expect a fifteen-minute-long queue (could be up to 30 to 45 minutes on very crowded days according to reviews in the internet).

The queue in front of Fergburger

There’s also a Ferg bakery and Mrs Ferg is a gelato shop, so we bought 2 big burgers for snacking and 1 gelato 

Inside Mrs Ferg Gelato Shop

The selection of ice cream flavours

Eating Fergburger and Mrs Ferg gelato

We continued walking around in a cold evening to find Lake Wakatipu. The ambiance was different than other lakes that we visited. There were more people, shops, and eating places nearby.

A huge willow tree in front of the lake

On the shores of Lake Wakatipu

A floating restaurant

The harbour of Queenstown

The TSS Earnslaw

The steamship

Ready to sail…………….

Strollling around the harbour

Shops along the harbour

Another Mrs Ferg shop that we found while walking back to the camspite

A souvenir shop

Inside the shop

A cute sweet shop in a quiet street but full of people inside

Merry Christmas from Queenstown, New Zealand!

We had to climb up to go back to the campsite

The view from the top of the stairs

We had dinner in the campervan (just a simple hot noodle soup for a cold night) and here was what we did before we slept. This was called the benefit of having a rooftop window while others didn’t:

Let’s end off the day with a little bit of spying… This photo was taken at at time when it should have been dark but clearly it as not

So that was our trip in Queenstown. Let us know what you think in the comments section below and stay tuned for Lake Pukaki, Lake Tekapo, Tekapo Springs, the Church of the Good Shepherd and advice on stargazing in Tekapo.


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New Zealand Road Trip Day 7: Franz Josef Glacier-Paringa-Wanaka

Well, it’s time to write about Day Seven. First thing first, we had breakfast of fried rice and hash brown that we cooked in the holiday park’s kitchen. The kitchen in the holiday parks could be crowded during breakfast and dinner time, so that was my mom and oma always woke up early to prepare breakfast and lunch.

Our simple breakfast

It was raining since night and the weather forecast said that it was going to rain for the whole morning and afternoon. It would be bright again at about 4 pm. Ouch……………..this ruined our mood a little bit.

We were considering on going straight on to Queenstown but after realizing we couldn’t really do anything in the rain and due to time constraint, we decided to stay in Wanaka. A thorough search on the Internet revealed that there was a salmon farm on the way to Wanaka near the town of Paringa so we decided to stop by there.

Early in the morning when it was raining heavily and as we passed by Fox Glacier, there was a sign that said the Fox Glacier Walk was closed due to bad weather (so thankful that we forced ourselves to hike to the glacier lookout point the day before even though we were already very tired). So we continued on to the coastal road and as we progressed, the rain subsided and it was just drizzling. Along the way, we found Bruce Bay, a bay and a good photo stop. The rain had completely stopped when we arrived in Bruce Bay.

Welcome to Bruce Bay!

The ocean view

As I mentioned earlier, this was a good photo stop

Stop by here if it is just drizzling, the view will not be as good as when the day is clear and bright

We continued on for 50 km and then arrived at our second stop. We had wanted to eat smoked salmon for a long time so we had to stop by here. The name of this place was South Westland Salmon Farm Cafe and very near to Lake Paringa.

Welcome to the salmon farm!

The salmon farm

The cafe menu of the day

The cafe 

The price of the salmon here (smoked and raw) was cheaper that the ones we saw in supermarkets in New Zealand and also much cheaper compared to Singapore. So we bought smoked salmon and raw salmon for our lunch and dinner here. Since we had a freezer in or campervan, we could easily store the salmon for few days.

The selection of salmon (smoked and raw)

They had other stuff for sale too (bread and sandwich and hot drinks). Water is free as in other places that we saw in New Zealand. Usually, there would be tap water and glasses so we could help ourselves in most restaurants

There was also a souvenir shop inside the cafe

The decoration inside the cafe. Free water was located near the map on the wall

Feels like home…………..

We really loved the homey feeling and nice decoration inside the cafe

Unique decoration and stuffs were displayed in the dining room

The view outside the dining room

Our order: smoked salmon sandwich and cappuccino

Inside the cafe

So a short drive down the highway will lead you to Lake Paringa. It’s a small lake but unless you are covered from head to toe and have insect repellent, don’t come here. Seriously, we went here unprepared and got  at least ten sandfly bites each. These are worse than mosquitoes and as I am writing this post the bites are still there and are very itchy.

Welcome to Lake Paringa

Kung fu fighting at Lake Paringa

The lake view

The final photo before narrowly escaping the sandflies

Further down the road there was another scenic lookout called Knights’ Point. Again, it was simply swarming with sandflies so don’t go unprepared!

Welcome to Knights’ Point!

The scenic ocean view

The Pacific Ocean

More photos

So after that we continued on to Haast Pass, a highway connecting the West Coast and Otago. In winter the highway can be closed if there is a risk of an avalanche. A Canadian couple once ignored the warning and a few days later their bodies were found a few hundred feet apart at the bottom of the ravine.

Gates of Haast

Haast River

Along the Haast Pass, look for signs to the Roaring Billy Falls. It’s a short walk to the Haast River and the falls. Bring proper footwear if you want to get as close as possible to the river and waterfall as the riverbank and surrounding areas are basically made up of hard stones.

Welcome to the Roaring Billy Falls!

We had to walk for about 30 minutes return (including taking many pictures in between), but the view was so breathtaking and the pictures below didn’t do any justice at all compared to the scenery that we saw.

The short walk to the falls

Here we are! The area was so big, the waterfall was amazing, and we could see snow capped mountain too

The river………………we would definitely wanted to stop here for a longer time, but too bad it started to rain and we didn’t bring any umbrella, so we had to get back quickly

Definitely stop by here if you have time

In the background you can see snow-capped mountains

We continued down Haast Pass to a famous tourist destination called the Blue Pools. Or rather, the Grey Pools. Find out why later. Along the way, there were several stops to see waterfalls and creeks and we didn’t stop because of the rain.

Haast Pass, it was raining as you can see in the picture

So when we arrived at the entrance to the walk it was raining heavily and the parking lot was full so we had to wait five minutes to get a lot. Then we had smoked salmon for lunch.

Cooking salmon for lunch

When we finished it was still raining but we wanted to arrive in Wanaka before it got too dark and the shops closed so we walked on anyway with 2 umbrellas. The tracks were so muddy and wet because of the constant rain that happened since early in the morning.

A rope bridge to the pools

Below the bridge you can see the Grey Pools

The hike was muddy, cold, windy and overall, the worst one possible. Skip this “attraction” if it’s raining and head on somewhere else. Because it was raining and no sunshine, the color of the pools weren’t blue, but green. So it was quite disappointing since we weren’t able to see the nice blue color of the pool.

The remaining amount of time taken to reach WakandaWanaka was one one hour. Along the way we passed by Lake Hawea but took few photographs as it was still raining heavily.

Welcome to Lake Hawea!

Even Lake Hawea was bluer than the “Blue Pools”!

Clutha River in Albert Town

 

Welcome to Wanaka!

A car park in Wanaka. Picture was taken after we went grocery shopping in New World Supermarket

We checked in at Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park first as it was still raining and miraculously, the rain stopped. In order to enter the holiday park, you have to have a code to open the gate. As we entered some students coming home from school also went in so they’re probably permanent residents. At any rate they can make a little noise in the evening, mostly because the playground was opposite our site but then again, the sun only sets at thirty minutes past ten so you won’t get much sleep anyway.

Our holiday park

The toilets, BBQ pits and jumping pillow

The BBQ pits

The powered sites

Camping in WakandaWanaka

It was a very nice campsite (very clean) and very close to the town center and the lake. We were running out of supplies so we had to go to the nearest supermarket: New World Wanaka.

New World Supermarket

Shopping at New World

The vegetables section

After that we went to Lake Wanaka which is right beside a skate park.

Some kids were skateboarding

A huge park in Wanaka next to the skateboarding area

A very nice town near Mt. Aspiring that we loved so much

We then walked to the lake and it was a very nice area for playing, strolling around, or having a picnic. By the way, it was also very cold in Wanaka and temperature dropped to 5 Celsius degree in the evening and night or early morning.

The lake was across the street

Lake Wanaka in the evening

Cold but refreshing

Kung fu fighting part 2 at Lake Wanaka. Results: Croatia(left) 3 Argentina(right) 0

Lake Wanaka

Photos at Lake WakandaWanaka

We then continued roaming along the streets to see the shops and restaurants. We even found some souvenir shops that were cheaper than all the souvenir shops in crowded touristy areas that was saw during our vacation.

Wanaka town centre which was not as quiet as other small towns that we visited before

Shops along the streets

Walking around the town centre

Searching for dinner as we were so hungry and wanted something warm to eat (like soup) instead of fish and chips or fried chicken or burger like most of the restaurants sold along the streets

A square where some kids were hanging out

 

The shops

A motel even closer to the city center

We accidentally entered a building and we found out later that it was a mall (that was actually already closed because it was night time already), but we saw a Korean Restaurant that was still open and we ended up buying our dinner from that restaurant.

Finally we found this Korean BBQ restaurant. Best Korean food we have ever had…(better than Singapore, at least)

Our dinner. It was good because unlike the Korean restaurants in Singapore they offered non-spicy options. We had chicken soup and crispy chicken. The soup (it had ginger and ginseng) was delicious and could warm our bodies. The condiments (salad, kimchi, ets) was a complimentary and the taste was very good too

As mentioned earlier the sun only set at about half past ten so if you rely on darkness to sleep get ready for a sleepless night.

To wrap up, WakandaWanaka is good, Blue Pools and other lookouts along the way, bad (Blue Pools because it is a name scam and the lookouts because of the sandflies.

Like and comment about our experience. Tomorrow we will write about Skyline Luge in Queenstown and an old ship.


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New Zealand Road Trip Day 6: Carters Beach-Punakaiki-Franz Josef Glacier

We’ve already covered the first five days of our road trip in New Zealand and they were spectacular. But the unforgettable places that you must see while in New Zealand were the Punakaiki Rocks (or Pancake Rocks) and Franz Josef Glacier. This day, of course, involved a lot of walking and that is why hiking shoes are very important. So without further ado, let’s start the day in Carters Beach.

We stayed in Carters Beach Holiday Park which had direct access to the beach. Unlike other places in New Zealand that we visited, this place was warm and sometimes could be too hot. So, it was time to wear our short pants and short sleeve shirts.

Carters Beach in the morning

We started the day by strolling around the beach early in the morning. It was nice and warm and thankfully, the water wasn’t cold at all. We played for about 45 minutes in this clean beach with crystal clear water.

a very short walk to the beach from the campsite

a beautiful morning at the beach

The waves are coming

Happy face in the morning

we loved the beach as we don’t have a real beach here

the blue water…….

Carters Beach in the morning

The water was surprisingly not cold

This is a good place for photos

There was a huge log pile

I wanted to go to the seal colony again to see if we could spot more seals than yesterday. And yes, we were……………….apparently, the seals were more active in the morning, so we could see even more seals. We went there at around 10 am and there were plenty of them swimming or playing or just laying on the rocks.

Two seals swimming

Another seal, it should be easy to spot, rite?

Yet another seal

And more

And even more!

Great success! We did it!

By the way, the seal colony was located only 10 to 15 minutes drive from our campsite. From the seal colony in Tauranga Bay, we continued along the West Coast to Franz Josef Glacier, the day’s highlight. In this area the local radio is called Coast FM, by the way. It was not often that we could get a clear signal of the radio, so we were glad when we did.

The West Coast Route

Fox River (a bit dry in summer)

There are many lookouts over the coast so do keep an eye on the signs.

Irimahuwhero lookout

The view over the coast

So on the way to the glacier we came across the town of Punakaiki and after some research on Campermate found out that the Punakaiki Rocks near the town are a tourist attraction so we stopped there for lunch.

Welcome to Punakaiki!

A long walk to the lookout point

Big rocks as the background

The surge pool

Flax in New Zealand. The Maori used these to make ladders

The weird rock formations

Even scientists are baffled by these odd rocks

Going down to another lookout point

For all we know an alien named Bob blasted the sea and made them

Bob did a good job

If you look closely at the previous photo you’ll see these

The things dangling under the rocks are ‘mermaid hair’

If you look closely, there will be information about each rock formation

Rock formation with layers like pancakes 

We were at the end of the lookout point

Visitor center with small cafes, ice cream shop, and souvenir shop

Cute mugs at the souvenir shop

So if you have time to, visit these rock formations because there probably aren’t any others like it in the world.

Back on the highway we continued along the coast and took many more pictures.

The coast

More photos

Grey River in Greymouth

Hokitika town

Along the way we found Lake Ianthe, a rest stop for your complaining driver to drink some juice while you stretch your legs and take photos. Two women were sunbathing and you can also go fishing here.

Welcome to Lake Ianthe

Beautiful lake but not as beautiful as Lake Rotoiti

A hot day at Lake Ianthe

The jetty at Lake Ianthe

A peaceful afternoon at Lake Ianthe

More photos of Lake Ianthe

Here’s what’s underwater

So after that it was time to head to Franz Josef Glacier!

First, we found a place to stay for the night, and here was what we found the first time: Franz Josef Glacier Holiday Park right in the middle of the small village

After we checked in and paid and parked the car, we continued to stroll around the small but beautiful small town. We could find a bird park where we could see kiwi bird, restaurants and cafes, souvenir shop, and a small supermarket which was full of tourists who wanted to stock up too.

Welcome to Franz Josef Glacier Township! This was some of the eating places that we saw along the street

The town was quiet small

but full of tourists like us

It was located just near the mountain

So we figured out that it would be very cold at night

So we drove to the glacier parking lot, a short 10-min drive from the township.

The road was winding and with some one line bridges

On the way to the lookout point

Along the way this river showed up

The glacier car park

Now I recommend two walks in the area. One is the Peters Pool Walk, which takes 25 min to go there and back unless you continue walking after the pool to the Douglas Walk, a longer loop track. The other  is the Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk, a 10-km long walk that gives you a closer look at the glacier. We went on the Peters Pool Walk first. I strongly encourage families with young children to come here as the track is easy and the views are brilliant.

The start of the walk

On the way to the pool

Welcome to the Peters Pool

It was so beautiful…………….you definitely have to see it by yourselves

Snap a picture. As I said, this is a short 1.1-km walk suitable for all ages

We didn’t see many people came here.It’s a nice kettle lake offering fantastic reflective views of the mountains

There were several walks to see the glacier, from the shortest to the farthest. The short one would only take around 25 minutes, but we could only see a very small part of the glacier from very far away. So we braved ourselves and chose to take the longest walk to see the glacier as near as we could. The walk took about 2 hours until we get back to the parking lot, but we stopped many times to take pictures.

And now…

FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER!

Even though in summer, the weather near glacier was very cold. So wear appropriate winter costumes. It wasn’t just because we came from a tropical country, bust we also saw most people (especially children) dressed themselves  more properly than us, like wearing gloves, winter boots, winter caps, winter jackets, etc. We didn’t know and prepare well, so we were shivering when we we near the top. And one more, bring umbrella as rain can some anytime and a flashlight if you plan to hike in the evening.

Time lapse: two minutes

Climb up was quite difficult, but we saw children and elderly people made it to the top

Slowly but sure until we reached the top

The first lookout, we could see a small part of the glacier from here. You can continue or stop and go back to the parking lot

In 1908, the glacier ended here

We continued and we would cross a small bridge

The view was getting even better in this side

After fourteen minutes, there was this waterfall. We saw many waterfalls from this point. Some tourists even went down to the water to take pictures

After fifteen minutes, more waterfalls!

After seventeen minutes, even more waterfalls!

We loved waterfalls

After twenty minutes, we were getting tired. A couple with a German accent told us we were fifteen minutes away from the glacier

After twenty-five minutes, still not over yet!

After thirty minutes, the track got steeper and more dangerous

After forty-five minutes, FINALLY! Left to right: Mt Cook, Franz Josef Glacier, Mt Tasman

After a long walk………………we are finally reaching the top…………

So happy and proud of ourselves

It was a long walk but we finally made it

So that means, another FORTY-FIVE MINUTES TO GO DOWN AND BACK TO THE CAR PARK!!! There were many elderly people and some toddlers and little children but it was still very tiring.

Walking back was another challenge

It was very cold and getting dark but we was still eager to take pictures

Bye bye waterfalls………

We arrived at the car park and thankfully we had bought some supplies the other day.

And by supplies I mean chocolate

So we stayed in Franz Josef Campervan Park. We got free wifi and this is the cheapest option in Franz Josef township. You cannot book online so you must come early to ensure you have a spot. It was a small campsite but we somehow loved it because it was so simple with very few people. It was also very clean.

The signage of our holiday park

We had powered site number 5, the number was painted on the stone

Our powered site with picnic bench

The holiday park surrounded by mountains

The shower and toilets with pin code

Location wise, this campsite was one of the best, although it was very cold at night, but we prefer cold weather better than hot weather

Small but lovely campsite

So that was Day 6! As usual, like and comment if you enjoyed this post and stay tuned for a salmon farm, twenty sandfly bites, our terrible experience (it was raining heavily the next day) in the Blue Pools and WakandaWanaka!


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New Zealand Road Trip Day 5: Picton-St Arnaud-Cape Foulwind-Carters Beach

Yay, it’s day 5 already! We were so excited because we were going (for hours) to see seal colony.

First of all, let’s begin the day in Queen Charlotte Sound, where we were staying. By the way, In this campsite you have to pay NZD1 in order to take a 5-minute shower. Oh well…

Imagine waking up in the morning with this beautiful view just in front of our doorstep:

The sound at dawn, so peaceful and calm

 

Absolutely stunning!

 

Good morning from Momorangi Bay

 

A family were fishing at the jetty. The father caught some fish and his son helped to clean it up

 

Look who was already up in the morning to help his father clean and cut the fish (with a real knife which was bigger than my kitchen knife………………impressive!)

We started the morning by………………well of course, we had breakfast first…………..

If I’m not mistaken, we had hash browns for breakfast

After we we were full, we continue the day by exploring the campsite before continuing our journey to our next destination. It was raining quite heavily the night before, so it was muddy, but the weather was very nice that morning.

A stream at the campsite

 

We already included this photograph in our first post but in case you haven’t read it yet, here it is…

Jumping happily

 

Everybody wanted to jump that morning

 

And another jump to show how happy and full of energy we were that morning

 

Daddy and me

 

We take turn to be the photographer

 

Finally, a family picture taken by oma

We continued walking to the other side of the campsite, quite far away from where we parked our car. The view was a bit different but still very pretty.

A nice morning at Momorangi Bay

 

Me and my signature style

 

It looks like a postcard picture

 

Foggy and cold morning in Momorangi Bay

 

God’s work is so amazing……………

We finally left the place at 9.30 and ready to go to our next destination.

Before the trip we had originally planned to go to Abel Tasman National Park to see seals but could not due to travel times and distances. So we searched for a place to spend the night between Picton and Franz Josef Glacier and so in a random bit of luck we found Cape Foulwind, a place with a seal colony.

The drive from Picton to Cape Foulwind takes about 4 hours so get up early to go. There are no holiday parks in Cape Foulwind. The nearest ones are in Carters Beach and Westport. The one in Carters Beach is called Carters Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park and it is the closest to the colony. In New Zealand there are two main holiday park branches: Kiwi and TOP 10. The ones we stayed in Rotorua and Wellington were operated by Kiwi.

We left the campsite and headed back in the direction we came from. There are many scenic lookouts along the way.

 

Such as this one as our first stop. Basically, just look carefully to the signs to stop for pictures on the left or right sides of the roads

 

Cullen Point Scenic Lookout, where we could see Queen Charlotte Sound for the last time

 

We had to walk 100 M to the lookout

 

Goodbye, Queen Charlotte Sound

Then we drove past Picton and Blenheim towards Westport. I took many pictures along the roads as the scenery was so pretty.

There are many rivers, streams, creeks and brooks in New Zealand

 

Cows are also very common in New Zealand

 

You can’t last ten minutes without seeing a river or stream

As we headed on State Highway 63, we encountered our first one lane bridge. These were not present in the North Island but extremely plentiful in the South. You’ll find them on bridges across rivers, on mountainous roads, in touristy areas and even at the entrance of some holiday parks where you need a password to enter. We had to wait and see if there was another car coming from the other side of the bridge before we could continue cautiously.

One lane bridge in South Island

 

State Highway 63

Halfway to the West Coast, we passed by the region of Tasman. Here we were running out of fuel so we stopped at the town of St Arnaud. There was a petrol station there and then we found out there was a lake nearby and we could have lunch there. St. Arnaud was a pretty small town that reminded us with the children stories from Enid Blyton’s books.

Welcome to St. Arnaud

 

The petrol station at St. Arnaud

 

A small shop in front of the petrol station, and there was also a very small (almost unnoticeable fish and chips seller besides this shop)

 

A small but beautiful town of St. Arnaud

We then went to Lake Rotoiti, part of Nelson Lakes National Park. It was a 2 km drive away from town but I do recommend you stop by to take pictures.

The lake was absolutely one of the most beautiful lake that we’ve ever seen during our entire journey. It was so calm and peaceful that we could spend hours in there just looking at the lake. It wasn’t so crowded with tourists too (I don’t think many people know or make this lake as a stop point. It was drizzling and cold, but we saw some children were actually in their swimsuits and was ready to swim………….we would absolutely love to do that if it weren’t cold and raining.

 

 

Welcome to Lake Rotoiti

 

So happy to find this place

 

So happy to see friendly ducks

 

Let’s take pictures with these cute ducks

 

We loved these ducks, we didn’t see them roaming easily in where we live

 

Oma (Grandma)……………

 

This is something you definitely should not miss

 

There is a jetty if you feel like fishing. As you can see there are a lot of seagulls and ducks in the area

 

The jetty with beautiful view

 

This lonely seagull wants you to come to St Arnaud and take a picture of it

 

And so do these eels (the water was so clear that we could see these giant eels swam near the jetty)

 

Taking pictures of the eels from the jetty

 

Running towards his lunch?

We had our lunch in the campervan (our lunch was already cooked in the morning so we saved time and could go straight away to our next destination).

So after lunch we continued on the state highway to the Buller Gorge. You will pass by this area on your way to the West Coast so don’t forget to take as many photographs as possible because the view was breathtaking!

One way lane bridge to Buller Gorge

By the way it will be very cold in Tasman and Marlborough but very hot in the northern part of the West Coast so do brace yourselves.

Welcome to the Buller Gorge!

 

The Buller River that runs through the gorge

 

A lookout over Buller Gorge

 

A memorial at the lookout

 

Big parking space

 

This is Buller Gorge

 

So happy for the fresh air after driving for hours

 

A closer look of Buller Gorge

 

My signature style photo

 

On the road to the seal colony (Tauranga Bay)

 

Stop again to take pictures in Killkenny Lookout

 

Killkenny Lookout

 

This is yet another place you must visit in New Zealand

 

Photo taking session

Soon afterwards we arrived at Carters Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park and booked a stay there (we hadn’t booked online yet) before heading on to Cape Foulwind to see the seals!!!

Welcome to Cape Foulwind!

 

 

These birds were quite common in Cape Foulwind

We parked in Tauranga Bay parking spot and walked 500 M to see the seal colony. Don’t worry about the walk, just enjoy the (one again) beautiful view of the beach, the sea, and the waves.

Awesome view

 

On our way to see the seals

 

15 minutes walk to see the seal colony

Before I show you the seals, I must warn you they are a little hard to spot and there were only about ten hidden seals. Some were sleeping, others were swimming. You need to be a keen observer to spot the seals.

The viewing deck

 

Our first seal!

 

Our second seal. We had to use special effects to make the seal more obvious

 

Let’s play the game of: Can you spot the seals?

 

The seals had the same color as the rocks, that was why it was quite difficult to spot them even though there were many of them

 

 

Wall Island viewing deck. We saw one seal here

We had many more seal photos but they were too hard to spot even with special effects…

We tried to go to the Cape Foulwind Lighthouse but DOC closed down the walkway for some reason so we had to return to Carters Beach.

We spotted some sheep in the nearby field, so we had to stop to take pictures with them

 

 

Hello sheep…………..

 

Welcome to Carters Beach!

 

Sunset in Carters Beach

 

Our holiday park

 

The reception area (the ice cream was cheap by the way, so stock up and buy your ice cream here)

 

This holiday park had direct access to the beach

 

Roses at the reception

 

The powered sites

 

The kitchen

 

Our dinner: fried rice and fish and chips

 

The jumping pillow in Carters Beach: a good way to burn calories after dinner

We had 250 MB of free wifi and the holiday park in general was really nice. We met a Chinese family from the UK here. There was one guy with five ladies. At night, when we were going to the toilet, we saw one of the women mopping the bathroom before she took a bath (she really wanted everything to be cleaned I guess before using the bathroom). It was hilarious and we had a good laugh. We still met them several times in other places, and they were so nice and funny too. They shared the about their adventure and what they saw during the holiday.

So that was Day 5! As usual, like and comment because the Punakaiki Rocks, Lake Ianthe and Franz Josef Glacier are coming up next!

Good night from Carters Beach