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Trip Report Awesome NewZealand Trip in Winter 2016

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I was asking few questions and suggestions on my another thread "6 Days South Island Help" and got good responses that helped in planning the trip for NZ. We just came back from NZ on 23rd Aug after an awesome trip of the beautiful country.. Really loved the places and scenery there hence decided to do my 1st ever Trip Report. Please forgive if the details are too much or wording is not mature as it is my first trip report. Got inspiration after reading few reports on this forum and the fact that it does help in future when you want to refer back to places you visited and the way you enjoyed, thought it would be worth it...

We are an Indian Couple in Mid 30s staying and working in Singapore(SG) from last 10+ years. Have one daughter who is going to be 6 in Oct this year. I very much like to travel and see new places.. Can't say the exact same about my wife but am sure she enjoys as well moving away from day to day life.. We usually plan to do one trip per year (apart from the one trip to India that we go to see family). Last year we had been to Bali and the year before to Bangkok/Phuket.. The other significant trip before NZ was Australia trip in 2012 (6 days in Sydney and Melbourne)..

The NZ trip was for 10 days. We have a relative (my wife's cousin sister) in Auckland. They also have a daughter 3 yr old.. So partly the trip was a meet-up with relatives and visit NZ. Luckily they had not been to South Island before as well in spite of being in NZ for more than 5 years so we got them to go with us.. So here are a few details day-wise of the trip.. Hope you enjoy reading !!

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    Day 1 - Auckland

    We reached Auckland on 12th Aug night and reached my relatives place around 11:30pm at night. We had booked 14th Aug early morning flight from AKL to Queenstown so we wanted to keep the day before i.e. 13th Aug as relaxing and easy.. On 13th Aug we went around a few places in Auckland. At first our relative(will call him PP) drove us to Mt Eden. The day was a bit cloudy in morning but it improved as the day progressed. We had bright sunlight at Mt Eden and good views of the city and around.

    From there we went to Mission Bay. Packed subway lunch and had it along the beach.. After spending some time there we went to Michael Joseph Savage Memorial which was near Mission Bay. Good views again of the city and islands like Rangitoto Island from this place.

    Then we drove to Northshore/Davenport via the Auckland Harbour Bridge.. We reached there around 5pm and there was bright sunlight with excellent views of City especially the Sky Tower.. It was a good place with some caves and canons.. We were there until about 6pm and just before sunset we left and came back to relatives house in Auckland.

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    Day 2 - Queenstown

    We boarded a early morning flight at 7am from Auckland and reached queenstown at 8:45am. The view of snow mountains from the flight window was amazing. Luckily I had grabbed the window seat.. As soon as we came out of the plane, we felt freezing cold.. The temperatures then were around 3-4 degrees but the wind was making it feel like below 0. Except for a brief period at Mt Buller near Melbourne during our AU trip in 2012, it was the first time we had been in such cold weather so probably we were feeling it more than others. Quickly all the gloves, beanies, jackets etc. came out..

    We got picked up by the car rental company from the airport and taken to their shop. After completing the formalities, we got our car. It was the 7 seater Toyota highlander with a child seat and booster seat for our 2 kids. By the time we got car it was about 10am. We had booked our 2 nights stay in Kingston which is about 40mins drive from Queenstown. The purpose of booking in Queenstown was that next day we had planned to go to Milford sound and staying in Kingston would cut down on 2 hours drive the next day to and fro.. Since kingston was a bit far and we were only going to be able to check-in to the hotel after 2pm, we didn't go to the hotel.. We kept our bags in the car and headed straight to Gondola/Luge station. Booked a Gondola with 2 Luge rides. Took the Gondola up to the mountains. The views from Gondola were excellent. The forecast for weather was a bit cloudy but luckily we saw sunlight for most of the day(with patches of clouds in between for short durations).. We took a light breakfast there and after taking some pictures from Gondola station, we headed for Luge rides. Since we had 2 kids with us, we took the easier track where a child can accompany an adult. That track was also nice and scenary was awesome from the luge track.. The rides took some time and it was about 1pm by the time we completed the rides and photo taking.. We took the Gondola back to station downstairs and walked to our car.

    Then we took the drive to Glenorchy and stopped along the way at some scenic spots. This is a great and easy drive from Queenstown. All along the lake wakapitu and snow capped mountains. The scenary was pretty awesome and a clear day made it even more nice.. We reached Glenorchy around 3pm.. We had not planned for any activities in Glenorchy so after a leisurely stroll along the lake, we took the drive back to Queenstown. We reached Queenstown around 4:30pm and went to Countdown supermarket to buy some groceries.. After Grocery shopping we headed to our holiday park in Kingston. The drive to Kingston from Queenstown was about 45 mins but was very scenic as well and we had to stop at few spots for the views and
    photo taking.. We reached kingston at about 6:30pm. Cooked pasta for dinner as there were not many restaurants or cafes around there in Kingston and slept early around 9pm..

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    Day 3 - Milford Sound

    The all important day of the trip was upon us. The trip to Milford Sound was one I was looking forward to the most. I woke up around 6am and the first thing I checked was the weather. The Milford road was showing closed with chances of opening after 10am.. There was a bit of avalanche overnight. This was clearly a big setback early in the morning. There were also chances of rain at Milford sound during the day. Clearly the forecast was not good and my mood was bit off.

    Nevertheless since we had only this day to cover Milford Sound and we had no other plans for that day, we decided that we will start around 8am towards Te Anau and see how it goes. We had not booked any cruise for the very reason that if roads are closed we won't be able to go.. We got ready and prepared omelette breakfast. After having breakfast it was already about 8:30am and by the time we got into car was about 8:45am. So we were late by at least an hour in starting from hotel. Partly due to weather forecast and partly due to kids and ladies taking a while to get ready (which became a norm over the course of next days so I started giving them 30-45mins earlier time then I wanted to start so that they get ready by then :)

    As we progressed towards Te Anau, the weather started improving a bit. we stopped at few places between Kingston and Te Anau. At one point our break lasted about half an
    hour due to photo taking and stroll around. Since we were not sure if we will be able to go to Milford, we were not hurrying as well.. We reached Te Anau around 10:30am. Stopped at Caltex Fuel station and fueled up the car. At the petrol station, the operator said the road is now open, however only 1-2 Cruise operators at Milford are
    operating. Jucy had some breakdown and all of their bookings were shifted to Southern Discoveries. Mitre peak is not operating either. He helped us to book 4 tickets for the 1:30pm Cruise with Southern discoveries. We had about 2.5 hrs to reach Milford. That meant we won't be able to stop at all the scenic spots between Te Anau and Milford. But at that point we just wanted to go and may be skip some spots. PP had been driving very well so far and keeping up with google maps or bettering it in terms of time required to travel. So we were kind of confident to reach there. We started our journey towards Milford from Te Anau around 10:50am and stopped at Mirror Lakes. The stop lasted about 20mins. There was excellent sunlight when we reached Mirror Lakes and we got a perfect view of the mountains and their mirror image in crystal clear water. It was simply gorgeous there. Then we stopped at one more place before homer tunnel. Again took about 15mins for photo taking and basking in the views.. We skipped some of the other spots and reached homer tunnel. Since we were running late as compared to everyone else especially the coaches we didn't get much traffic upto homer tunnel and neither we had to stop for long to cross the tunnel. After crossing the tunnel we stopped at one more spot. Don't remember exactly the spot's name but it was very scenic. Snow all around us and kids got to play with snow for few mins. It was about 12:45pm and still had about 30kms to cover. So quickly we started again and made it to Milford i-site center at about 1:10pm. Just in time..

    Parked the car and walked to the place from where cruises start. Checked in for the cruise and started our cruise journey at 1:30pm. Again luckily there was bright sunshine through out our cruise journey. We got the best viewing experience of Milford Sound. The scenery was stunning from the cruise. Saw the seals and the numerous waterfalls. Then at one point the boat went up close near a big waterfall and drenched people who were out there. Think it was part of their plan and people were expecting it as some had put on the raincoats..It was an amazing experience. While on cruise we had the lunch and coffee. Kids had some rest as well. The boat cruise was for about 1.5hrs and came back at the starting point at about 3:10pm. We walked around for few mins and knowing that we didn't have much spare time, we took the drive back to Kingston.

    We also had decided that we will stop at some of the scenic spots that we had missed earlier. We stopped at "The Chasm". Bit of drizzle had started at that time but it stopped soon. Then we stopped at some other spots like Knobs flat.. We didn't have the time to do walks on the tracks so proceeded with drive. After after crossing the homer tunnel, I took the driving part from PP so as to give him some rest as he had been driving from Kingston to Milford and back from Milford as well. Since the road after knobs flat was a bit easier I thought I will drive now so PP can rest and if it gets dark by the time we reach Te Anau, he can drive again. He is a very good driver(which we found out later as well as he easily managed the crown range drive and the Mt john observatory drive later which would have been difficult for me).. I drove until Te Anau. We reach Te Anau around 5:45pm and it was starting to get dark. We stopped in Te anau to buy some food for dinner(as Kingston doesn't have much options). We started from Te Anau around 6:15pm and reached Kingston at our holiday park by 8pm. Kids and the ladies had slept. I was talking to PP and giving him company so he doesn't feel bored or feel sleepy while driving :) We had also got some wine from Te Anau. We opened the wine bottles and had dinner at our holiday park. It was a perfect end to a perfect day. After dinner, wine and chit chat we crashed into bed at about 11pm..

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    Day 4 - Queenstown, Arrowtown, Crown Range

    Woke up at 6:30am. We had pre-booked KJet ride for 10am and needed to reach Marine Parade in Queeenstown city area by 9:45am. Had breakfast of toast breads, Omelette and coffee and packed our bags as it was also the day we checked out from Kingston Holiday Park. The next 2 nights we had booked in Wanaka but we had planned to reach wanaka in evening only so as to spend as much time as possible in Queenstown. Started from Kingston around 8:45am. It was bright and sunny day.. The drive from Kingston to Queenstown was again very scenic.. We stopped at the scenic lookout near Devils staircase. Spent some time there taking pictures and resumed at 9:15am. Passed thru The Remarkables Ski area and reached Marine Parade at 9:35am. Parked the car nearby and headed to KJet station.

    The Kjet ride was supposed to be 45mins to 1Hr. We thought it would not be as fast as the Shotover jetride so due to kids and all we preferred booking this one. But learned
    later that it would be fast as well and will have many 360 degree spins. We were in dilemma whether to take kids along. There were discussions that one of the ladies can
    wait with the 2 kids and other 3 adults can go but since no one had done this ride before and all wanted to do it, we went with decision of going all and taking kids along.

    The decision proved to be very wrong as we found out later after the ride. Got fitted with the life jackets and raincoats. We had put on our winter jackets, beanies, gloves etc..

    The ride started on time. One of the kids had already started crying so the ride driver said that he will take one test ride and one 360 spin to see if all good and we want to continue with the ride. He did that and it appeared good. Even though PP's daughter was crying he said we will go ahead for the ride and not return back at this juncture. The driver then proceeded with the complete ride of 40+ kms thru the kawarau and shotover rivers. It was extremely cold and in spite of wearing warm clothes we were filling the chill. Due to the speed of the boat, the wind was blowing at fast pace and hitting our faces. The 360 degree spins were splashing water all over the boat. The kids were not enjoying it at all and both were crying now due to feeling cold and probably afraid of the speed and spins.. There was no option of returning back now and we had to bear it now. Only after 10-15 mins of ride we started feeling that we have taken a very bad decision of booking this ride and if at all we had to take it, we should have left the kids out of it. At about 30 mins the driver stopped and asked everyone how is it.. All except our group gave a loud thumbs up. We were clearly not enjoying it and both girls were crying.

    The driver said he will turn back now. Just a bit of relief that we are turning back but equally terrifying that we still have about 20 mins or so ride still left. Due to fast wind, everyone's cheeks had frozen as if botox is done and noses were running.. We shifted places to change the person holding kids and the driver started the ride back to station. No one of us was able to enjoy it and we were eagerly waiting and praying for it to finish. Somehow it ended and we reached the station. In winter and with kids it was one hell of a ride :( Probably in summer it must be very exciting and exhilirating..

    The ride operators asked us to go downstairs in their cabin where they have a underwater observatory (it was part of our ticket) where the kids can see fish, ducks etc. and feel a bit nice.. We went there and showed the fish etc. to kids. After sometime they stopped crying and everything was returning back to normalcy.. We knew we had taken a bad decision of taking kids but not much can be done now.

    This was the only bad experience of our whole NZ trip..

    After some relaxing time in underwater observatory we went to nearby Kids park at Marine Parade. The kids got cheerful after sometime at the playground. Meanwhile we also ordered Coffee and felt a bit nicer as well. We then proceeded to nearby Queenstown Gardens. It was quiet a big garden. We walked around in various sections of the garden, took some pictures and relaxed for sometime there. The day was quiet bright so we were getting good views of the Lake and Mountains.

    At around 12:30 we left from Queenstown Garden and walked to the town. Walked a few streets in the town and did some shopping. Our next stop was Arrowtown so we decided to have lunch in Queenstown before going there.

    We took lunch in Queenstown and at about 2pm started the drive to Arrowtown. Reached there in about 15mins. At Arrowtown we spent about half an hour or so. Walked the chinese settlement area, post office and other streets. It was a cute little town. From there we then drove to Kawarau bridge. We saw the Zipline ride and Kawarau bungy
    from there. Saw 2-3 persons jumping for the bungy ride. It was awesome but no one from us was able to muster courage to do it (Especially after the KJet ride earlier in morning).

    After spending some time at Kawarau bridge, the time was about 3:30pm and we were to head to Wanaka. We opted to take the Crown range instead of the usual drive thru
    cromwell.. Had heard that the crown range is the highest mountaneous range in NZ and quiet scenic. The day was quiet bright with temperatures around 9 degrees and PP was
    comfortable to drive so we decided to take it. After only 5-10 mins of drive came a scenic lookout. We stopped there. It was spectacular. We could see Arrowtown, Remarkables etc. from there. Took some photos and resumed. Stopped at another lookout before reaching Cardrona. We were thinking to stop at Cardrona hotel but were running bit late and wanted to reach Wanaka before it gets dark. Just after Cardrona came Bradrona :) we stopped there briefly and proceeded to Wanaka.

    The drive was awesome. PP kept saying that he was not able to concentrate on the drive due to such beautiful scenery but we urged him to concentrate on the drive :) and assured him that we are capturing all the pictures and videos for him :) After one more stop we reached Wanaka and to our accomodation at about 6pm. We had booked 2 nights in Wanaka at a house thru Airbnb. It was a very good house with views of Treble cone ski field and very close to Mt Iron. The owner were a couple in their 60s and the lady Ann showed us our rooms and informed that we can share the living area with them and use kitchen for tea/coffee etc. We got inside, rested for 15-20 mins and after that headed to wanaka town for dinner. We found a good Indian restaurant called Bombay Palace. Had good Indian Meal and chit chat over dinner. After dinner we went by the lake side at Lake Wanaka and strolled there for few mins after which we came back to our accomodation and slept around 10pm..

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    I'm surprised that a jet boat company would even allow a three year old, but I just looked at K-Jet's site and they accommodate kids as young as two!

    I can imagine how it would scare a littlie, all that noise, the spins, the water, etc. Heck, I remember being pretty tense the time we took the Shotover Jet in Queenstown.

    That was before we discovered the more sedate and incredibly scenic Dart River Jet Boat Safari out of Glenorchy. Much more our style!

    Glad you liked Bombay Palace in Wanaka - we like it too, but we like the Spice Room even better.

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    Yeah Melnq8, when KJet said above 2 yrs can take the ride, I thought it wouldn't be that scary and may run slow.. But i should have watched the video/reviews before booking. Booked just a day before departing for NZ and didn't review it well.. Anyway it's an experience albeit bad one : (


    Yeah we tried Spice Room for dinner the next day. It is excellent as well.

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    Day 5 - Wanaka

    Woke up at 6:30am. I got ready early and while everyone else was getting ready, I went outside for a walk around the house. Thought about taking the Mt Iron track but couldn't find it's start. Asked a lady who was out there for morning walk and she said the actual start of the track is a bit far from where we were. We could go by car and park the car there and then take the walk on the track. So I dropped the idea of taking Mt Iron track for that day.

    Came home where Ann had prepared a nice continental breakfast consisting of toasts, yoghurt and fresh fruits. Everyone was ready by then as well so we all had breakfast with Ann at about 9am. While having breakfast, Ann provided information about Wanaka and what we can do on that day in the region.

    Meanwhile PP's daughter had a bit of fever in the night due to cold so they had planned to visit doctor before going elsewhere. Ann helped with a doctor's number and we took appointment for 11am for PP's daughter. We went to Lake Wanaka at around 10am. Took some photographs and saw that people were feeding birds there. We also had bread in the car so joined them to feed the birds(think most of them or seagulls). Kids really enjoyed feeding and watching birds. At 10:45am PP and his wife took their daughter to Doctor. We went to the nearby Dinosaur kids park and let our daughter play there until PP and family come back.

    They came back around 12. Nothing serious. Doctor gave paracetamol in case fever comes back. We then went to Subway and got ourselves a veggie Patty each.. After finishing that we went towards Treble Cone Ski Area on the Mt Aspiring Road. We stopped at Glendhu Bay. It was a bright day so the views were spectacular again from there. There were some mirror images forming in the lake of the snow mountains and it was quiet nice. Though not as clear as the mirror lakes on Milford road but still quiet beautiful.. Took some pictures and just relaxed there for a while.. At about 2pm we left from there and reached Treble cone at 2:30pm. My plan was to go up to the ski field and take the scenic chairlift ride. See the views and children can play in snow. But after going there we saw that the route up to Treble Cone ski field is not good. The road was not concrete and it was quiet uphill. Also there were instructions saying roads may close after 4pm. We discussed and since PP was also feeling a bit unwell(cold), we thought that it would be a bit risky to drive on that route so decided against going there.

    We turned back towards Wanaka and decided to go to Puzzling World instead. Reached Puzzling world around 3:30pm and purchased combo tickets consisting of Illusion Rooms and The Great Maze. Solved the Maze first and proceeded to Illusion Rooms. It was a good experience and kids loved it too. We enjoyed the visit to all the illusions and had a lot of laugh at the Tilted house.

    Came back to Lake Wanaka at around 5:30pm. Got ourselves some vegetarian pies and Coffee. Turned out the shop was selling the Best pies of NZ. They were really quiet delicious. We were then thinking what to do and saw the map that there is another lake (Lake Hawea) nearby. We drove towards that but by the time we reached there it was starting to get dark so briefly roamed around and came back to Wanaka Town for dinner. We went for The Spice Room today, another Indian restaurant. It was great probably a bit better than Bombay Palace. After dinner went back to our house and played cards for a while before going to bed around 10pm.

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    glad you liked the Spice Room too - we had some of the best food that we ate in NZ there.

    Sounds like you had a good time in Wanaka - it was one of our favourite places. on our day there we did a trip to the island in the middle and then a walk round the lake. very low key, but lovely.

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    Yeah Ann, it was a good day in Wanaka. Since we didn't have much activities etc. planned, it was pretty relaxing and just enjoying the surroundings. Less driving and sit in car as well.. I liked Wanaka very much. It is a good town not too big not too small and houses are all beautiful..

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    Day 6 - Mt Cook

    Woke up at 6:30am. Others were still sleeping and i got ready by 7:30am so I decided to go out for a walk while others get ready. Met Ann in the living room, who asked about where I was heading to. She then told me that there is a shortcut just 150 meters from her house to the Mt Iron track. She gave me directions and I went for that. Found the way and took the Mt Iron track. Initially was thinking to go just a little bit up to see the view but ended up going at the top. The views were fantastic in the morning with Sun rising and falling on snow mountains giving them a golden appearance initially and then turning bright white. Met many locals doing their daily workout. Almost all I came across said a hello to me. One lady helped me take my pictures as I didn't take the selfie stick with me. This is another thing good about NZ. The people are really nice and helpful and they all will give a smile and a hello.

    Came back to the Ann's house around 8:45am by when everyone was ready for breakfast. Again thanks to Ann we got a good breakfast.. Chatted with Ann on breakfast table for a while and packed our bags. Departed from Wanaka at about 10am. We had planned to go to Mt Cook, spend some time there and come to Lake Tekapo in the evening where we had booked the night's stay at Pepper's Bluewater Resort.

    On the way to Mt Cook, we first stopped at Lindis pass lookout.. It was wonderful out there. Bright sunshine, bit windy and temperatures around 4-5 degrees, so was pretty
    cold but the lookout is right between all the mountains. The mountains were a bit different here then others we had seen in Queenstown. After taking some pictures we proceeded on with our journey. We then stopped at Omarama. We fueled up the Car there and also bought some Fries and Wedges from a Fish & Chips shop. Kids loved them.

    We then stopped at High Country Salmon on the Omarama-Twizel road and just before Twizel. The place offered free feeding to Salmon fish. We fed the fish which the kids enjoyed very much.

    We didn't stop in Twizel as we were running late so skipped Twizel and went on to Mount Cook Road along the Lake Pukaki. Stopped at one of the scenic spot on Mount Cook road(I think it was Peter's lookout). Took some pictures. Lake Pukaki was appearing blue and very beautiful. Think due to water coming from Glaciers, the lake was having bluish appearance. We reached Mount Cook Village at about 2pm. Went to the i-site information center and got details of the various walking tracks at Mt Cook. We went to the lone restaurant near the i-site office and had Pizza for Lunch there. Followed by nice Mocha. We sat at the back of that restaurant in open where there was beautiful view of the Snow mountains. It was amazing feeling there to have hot pizzas and coffee and such great views. Wished that we could just sit there for hours and admire the beauty of nature.

    Well the clock was ticking and we didn't have much time so we proceeded to Hooker Valley Road to try the hooker valley track. With kids and all that was probably the only
    track that we could do. But we didn't have the time to complete that as well. I think it takes about 3-4 hours to fully cover the track. We decided to still go and may be we
    can turn back after the 1st or 2nd swing bridge. We reached the 1st swing bridge in about 25 mins. We could see the glacier water flowing below the bridge. The snow mountains we saw from there had partial glacier spots. After taking some pictures we thought about whether to go further or not. Since kids were feeling tired and the track was long we decided to turn back. If we had booked the night's stay in Mt Cook Village instead of Tekapo, We could have had time to cover the track early morning next day when kids would be asleep. I regretted booking the night at Lake Tekapo but before going to NZ when I checked the accomodation options in Mt Cook on sites like Booking.com, agoda and Airbnb, there weren't any.. Seems for Mt cook the booking needs to be done well in advance. The place is really nice with excellent setting of mountains covered with snow all around you. Imagine waking up at such a wonderful place and watching the sunrise or going for a morning walk in the midst of all the mountains. Anyway may be for the next trip to NZ, i would book 2 nights or so at Mt Cook Village.

    Reached back to our car at about 4:30pm and started back our journey towards Lake Tekapo. I drove the car while returning back as the road from Mt cook is pretty plain and easy.. We reached Lake Tekapo around 6pm and checked into our 2 Bedroom Suite in Pepper's BlueWater resort. The resort was quiet good. Our suite had 2 separate bedrooms with attached bathrooms at ground floor and living/Kitchen area at 1st floor. We then got some Wine, cooked dinner and enjoyed the time at the resort.. Slept around 11pm.

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    Day 7 - Tekapo, Christchurch

    It was our last day in South Island. We had our flight from Christchurch to Auckland at 8:50pm at the night. The car rental company had informed us that we need to return the car by 6pm if we are returning at their office in Airport else we need to return it at an hotel. We decided that we should reach Christchurch by 4pm so that we can spend sometime there and return the car at their office.

    The earlier night, PP and I had also planned to wake up early in the morning to watch sunrise from Lake Tekapo. We woke up and got ready by 7am. Kids and the ladies were sleeping still. We went to watch the sunrise by the Lake. It was a touch cloudy but still quite beautiful. We spent about half an hour to 45 mins to enjoy the sunrise(it was a special one). We then went back to hotel. The kids were ready by then. At 8:30 we took breakfast in the hotel and checked out from hotel at 9:45am.

    Our first stop today was Mt John Observatory. We proceeded to that from the hotel and reached there in less than half an hour. Didn't expect the way up to Mt John observatory to be so narrow and steep. PP proved his skill again at driving and we reached at the top without any issues. He did mention a few times that it was a bit difficult. The view from Mt John was awesome to say the least. The clouds had cleared by the time we reached there and we got a perfect view of the surroundings. To our surprise, the staff at the cafe did a Haka. PP and his wife who are staying in Auckland for a few years knew about it but we didn't. They then explained that it is a traditional dance performance of the Maori People of NZ. The dance coordinator called few persons from the audience and performed it. One of the participant happened to be PP's wife. She enjoyed performing it and we all enjoyed the performance.

    After spending some more time taking pictures etc. we descended down from Mt John observatory back to Lake Tekapo. Reached there around 11:45am and spent sometime at the Lake taking pictures and enjoying the views for one last time. We then left Lake Tekapo around 12:30pm towards Christchurch. There were discussions whether to take the scenic route between Tekapo and CHC or follow the shorter path. Since we didn't have much time we took the shorter path. We reached Ashburton around 2pm and decided to have lunch there. Very close to the road where we had stopped, we found an Indian restaurant and went there for Lunch. We were done with the lunch by 2:30pm and proceeded with the drive again. The drive from Ashburton to Christchurch was very much plain with more wide road and no twists/turns (quiet unlike the drives so far we had in south island). The traffic was a lot though. It was understandable, christchurch being the largest city in South Island.

    We reached Christchurch at about 4pm and proceeded to City Center. We ended up near CHC botanic gardens. We had reached there around 4:30pm so had about 1hr before we need to go back to return the car at airport. We decided that instead of going elsewhere in CHC, we will just visit the botanic garden and relax there. The botanic garden was quiet big. we could only see 20-30% of it and by then it was already 5:15pm. We returned back to our car and drove to airport and the rental company's address. Returned back the car which had given us excellent company from last 6 days. They then dropped us at the airport departure gate. There was still about 3 hours for our flight. We just relaxed inside the airport and passed the time. We reached Auckland airport around 10:15pm and at PP's home at 11pm. Slept around midnight.

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    Day 8,9,10 - Auckland

    Originally we had planned that after coming back from South Island, we will rest a bit on 8th day and for 9th and 10th day we may plan a 1 day trip to place like Rotorua/Waitomo/Lake Taupo, but there were couple of birthday functions(one of them being for PP's daughter) and PP's wife and daughter were not too well, so we decided against going anywhere else and instead thought to just relax, do some shopping and spend time with them.

    on the 8th day, we woke up around 10am and had a late breakfast. After that we got ready around 2pm and left for Auckland Museum. PP's wife and daughter stayed at home to rest. We entered the museum around 2:30pm. We were not expecting it to be so big so thought that we would be able to see in an hour or so. But it was quiet big with 3 floors of various sections like World War 1 and 2, Maori culture related etc. The museum was really nice and we eventually ran short of time as it closes at 5pm. But we covered most of it and came out at 5pm. We then proceeded to City/CBD area. Parked our car around Skycity as we planned to visit Sky Tower. We went up at the observatory on sky tower at around 5:45pm. We went at that time so that we could see during daylight as well as the night view of city. We just got that. Spent about 15-20 mins in day light and then it started getting dark and lights started coming on. Got good views of the city and surroundings. Spent another hour there and had coffee there. Wanted to see someone do skyjump but there was none on that day. Came down at about 7pm and went to the casino. We are not much into gambling at Casinos so just roamed around a bit and came out at 7:30pm. We then decided to walk thru queen street upto the Harbour Viaduct in downtown Auckland from where various ferries/cruises depart. We visited the Britomart Train Station building and came out to have NZ's favourite MoveNPick Ice-cream. Then walked across the various ferry terminals and onto Viaduct Basin. Good view again of the city from there. Took some pictures and relaxed a bit. Walked back across queen street to near skycity where we had parked the car. Then drove back to PP's home in Mount Roskil where we had dinner before sleeping at around midnight.

    On the 9th day, We woke up around 9am and had breakfast. Watched our photographs on the TV at PP's house and then took shower. After having lunch around 2pm, we went for shopping. We went to a Mall from where PP and family got some birthday items for their daughter's birthday event next day. We also bought some souvenirs to bring to SG (Singaproe). After the shopping we went home at around 6pm and got ready to go to the birthday party. We reached birthday event which was held at Swades Indian Restaurant in Mount Roskill. Enjoyed the birthday party. Food and the cake were delicious. Came home around 10pm and went to bed around 11pm..

    on the 10th day our last day in NZ on this trip, again usual, woke up relaxed at 9am and had breakfast. After taking shower I went for a walk around the house in Mount
    Roskill. Reached Keith Hay Park which was close to the house. It was a good park with lots of kids playing football. Walked around the park for a while and came back to house. We then started preparing for birthday function of PP's daughter in the evening. Decorated the house with balloons and other decorative items. Meanwhile we also
    packed our bags for the flight back home to SG at night. At 5pm, PP and I went to bring the cake and the food that we had pre-ordered. Reached home around 6pm by when guests
    had started to come. Enjoyed the birthday party with all the guests. We also danced for about half an hour or so. At 9:30pm we left PP's house for Airport. Our flight was at 11:50pm at night. It had started raining when we departed from PP's house. What a co-incidence that we encountered rain when we first landed in Auckland 10 days back while coming from airport to PP's house and now when we were leaving back. And luckily this were the only two instances when we met with rain during our stay in NZ. Really thanked weather Gods for giving us a very good weather while our stay in NZ as before leaving for NZ that was my major concern especially for the South Island. After check-in for the flight, bid Goodbye to PP and family until we meet again. They had been an excellent company for last 10 days and we will really miss them and NZ.

    That's all for this Trip Report. Thanks again to all fodorites for the feedback and help in planning the Trip..
    Hope to visit more places and write again in future : )

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