16 days all over New Zealand

Nov 13th, 2009, 04:44 PM
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Great report Indiancouple. I am glad you found the Nelson market interesting and enjoyable. Being a local I don't go there very often, but it is a wonderful market, with all sorts of things to buy, and different food to sample. It's a great place to buy some unique gifts also. I normally go when my daughter-in-law is visiting from Wellington.

I have been to Punakaiki many times but have only witnessed the blow-holes working properly about twice, it all depends on the tide and the weather.
nelsonian is offline  
Nov 14th, 2009, 02:50 AM
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Hey guys, I happen to be traveling. Just saw all the comments posted during the last 2 days. Thanks for the accolades. Hope to post the responses tomorrow, and the last two installments of the TR. Bear with me.
indiancouple is online now  
Nov 15th, 2009, 08:15 PM
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Day 15: Monday, Nov 2nd : CHRISTCHURCH :

Woke up comfortably, and we were ready by 9 am. Did not cook breakfast, as we had plans of eating out for breakfast. It was another one of those beautiful clear days, and the views from the cottage bedrooms were fabulous. The Omahau Downs cottage that we were in, was undoubtedly the best accommodation of this trip. It seemed such a waste to stay here for only one night, and not enjoy it enough. Lay in the hammock outside for quite a while, gazing at the farmland around.

Went over to see the Farmer’s shed on the land, where some sheep were around. Finally, we settled our bills and forced our departure by 9:30 am.

Stopped 1-2 times by the side of Lake Pukaki to click photos. The shade of blue in the waters seemed unreal and imaginary. I guess it is caused by the mineral characteristics of the glacial waters that feed the lake, but the colour of the lake here is absolutely stunning. As we reached Lake Tekapo, we went up the steep hill to St John’s Observatory, where they were reputed to have a café with the most stunning views on the planet ! It is true, the views from the top simply take your breath away. As we had a breakfast there of sandwiches, apple pies and coffee, we made full use of the telescopes on offer there to admire the views.

Then we drove down the hill to the lakefront of Tekapo, and on to the very cute church which had gorgeous views of the lake from its glass window. After some strolling around, we left just before noon. From there, a fairly uneventful drive to Geraldine. This was a lovely town with beautiful houses and amazing landscaped gardens, all bursting with flowers of every hue and shade. We went to the principal attraction of town, the “Midevil Mosaic” shop on Wilson Street, where we saw the Guiness book entry Largest Knitted Jersey of the world ! Bought some nice caps and scarves, and saw the unbelievable display of mosaic pictures. The owner of the shop has had a lifelong passion with numbers, and he talks at length about all the mysterious creations that he has done with numbers. Very interesting.

From Geraldine, we deviated from the main highway, and took the recommended scenic route # 72 to Christchurch. This route has excellent views along the way, of lush green meadows with lots of sheep and baby lambs everywhere. After several scenic stopovers, we reached Methven by 3 pm, where we decided to have lunch. We chose the “Primero e Secundo” café, a great eatery with a flea market attached to it ! Most unusual and bizarre place to sit for a meal, but had a decent meal of soups, bagels and tarts.

Finally reached Christchuch by 4:45 pm, and checked into our Lorenzo Motor Lodge, which was certainly the best motel on this trip. Comfortable 2-bedroom unit, quite tastefully decorated, and very well located. After settling in and relaxing a bit, we were off by 5:45 pm. Drove to the city centre, and loafed around Cathedral Square. Bought combo tickets for the tram + punting on Avon (both valid for two days), and undertook the circular tram ride that day. Nice introduction to Christchurch city, with informative commentary provided by the tram driver.

Retrieved our car and drove to Lyttelton suburb, via the scenic Summit Road. A very high and narrow road – definitely scenic, but a bit scary to drive on. At Lyttelton, we dined at the Lava Café, where we had Margheritas, Enchiladas, Croquettes, Jalapenos, Nachos etc. After a good meal we drove back to our hotel and crashed out by 11 pm.
indiancouple is online now  
Nov 15th, 2009, 08:16 PM
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Day 16 : Tuesday, Nov 3rd : CHRISTCHURCH :

This was our last day in NZ, and our good luck with the weather continued. I am not making up stories about the weather. Believe me, we were just very very lucky in this trip to have merited complete sunshine and clear blue skies. After breakfast and doing some last minute laundry, we left the hotel by 9:30 am.

First stop was Apex Rentals, to return the rented car. This was smoothly done, with no hassles. We felt a tinge of remorse on parting with our “foster home” for two weeks – the car had behaved extremely well all through the trip. Then walked over to a post office and mailed the GPS back to Auckland.

We walked on High Street towards Cathedral Square. I had promised the ladies adequate shopping time on the final day, and they kept going in and out of stores, buying earrings and various odds and ends. On reaching Cathedral Sq, we went inside the famed Christchurch Cathedral, and spent some time inside. Then boarded the tram outside, and alighted at the Arts Centre. Walked through the Botanic Gardens, which exceeded all expectations. Spectacular landscaping, and lovely flowers. And of course, the pretty Avon river flowing by the side. I think I could have spent many hours there, but we were a bit rushed for time.

Went over to the Antigua Boatsheds, and took a punting trip down the Avon river. This is supposed to be a must-do in Christchurch, and I must say we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. A very soothing and relaxing experience to the senses. Ducks and ducklings everywhere…people relaxing on the sloped grass on both banks…really beautiful.

After getting off from the boats, we walked over to Christ College, which we had briefly seen on the tram ride the earlier day. Its buildings resemble Hogwartz in many ways, and it is a picturesque campus. Smart uniformed schoolboys strolling around. Good photo ops.

Went for lunch at the Dux de Lux at the Arts Centre. It was a huge establishment compared to the Queenstown branch, and very popular. Had some of their self-brewed black beer, and an excellent lunch of Mushroom filos, Spinach filos (called “Spanikopika”) , Asparagus Crepes and Asian Veg Curry. An excellent place for a meal in Christchurch, with lovely outside tables.

We went shopping and strolling all over the Arts Centre. It has a bewildering array of shops, each very different from the next, and each very fascinating in its own artistic way. You go crazy shopping there, as one is tempted to buy everything. A very unique and enjoyable place to spend time in. Then we went over to Columbus St, to buy some specific items we were looking for from department stores. Then a stroll down New Regent St, with its Spanish architecture, and over to Victoria Square and the Floral Clock (which was a let-down). Then returned to Cathedral Sq and chilled out at Starbucks.

At about 6 pm, it started getting windy and blustery, so we took a taxi back to our motel. We also needed to dump our shopping in our rooms. Relaxed a bit, and did not feel like going back to City Centre for dinner. Opted for a restaurant highly recommended by our hosts, called “Budha Stix” which was a short walk away. Turned out to be a very popular place, and the only time in this trip when we had to call in earlier to make a reservation. The place was packed, and the food was excellent. Had Tom Yum soup, Vietnamese Fried Noodles with Chillies, Spicy Herbs & Vegetables. Wonderful last meal of our trip. Highly recommend this place, which may not yet be mentioned in guidebooks, as it has opened only a few months ago.

Returned to our hotel by 9 pm. Finished our packing. Finished off all the wine we had been carrying with us ! Went to bed late by 11:30 pm.

The next morning we woke up as usual, and had our breakfast. The motel had called in a shuttle bus to pick us up at 9:20 am for the airport, where we reached by 10 am. We had an uneventful and pleasant flight back to Mumbai, via Singapore.

This completes my trip report of NZ. I await your comments and questions.
indiancouple is online now  
Nov 15th, 2009, 09:59 PM
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Melnq8, believe me, we were really lucky with the weather !

ih, reagrding what changes we would make if we had to do it again : I guess I would have tried to avoid Auckland altogether, and maybe taken a car from the airport and got out of there. Would have also omitted the detour to Waitomo Caves (although other posters have really enjoyed the glow worm caves). Would have definitely visited Rotorua, and added a day to Wellington. In South Island, I would not have changed our itinerary one bit.

As for the Mt Cook View motel at Fox, I think it is an excellent and comfortable motel. However, you need a car if you are staying there, as it is a few km away from village centre.
indiancouple is online now  
Nov 15th, 2009, 10:04 PM
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arbeeo, if you are renting a car anyway, I see no point in taking a tour for Milford Sound. You are much better off driving yourself, and retaining the flexibility of stopping wherever you want. This is as long as you are doing Milford from Te Anau, like we did. If you are day tripping from Queenstown, then it would be a very long drive, and you may want to take a tour.

nelsonian, your comments about the blowholes at Punakaiki make me feel better. Our hosts said very much the same, that the blowholes are spectacular only when the sea is very rough, and the tide is in. So perhaps we did not miss too much.

susncrg, thanks for the compliments, and glad you find the TR useful.
indiancouple is online now  
Nov 15th, 2009, 10:26 PM
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thanks indian couple
ih is offline  
Nov 16th, 2009, 11:07 AM
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Since you liked many of the lodgings and restaurants you visited, but did not always name them, would you mind giving up the names as I might want to use some of them. Thanks.
susncrg is offline  
Nov 16th, 2009, 12:49 PM
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Thanks for great trip report. I am reading it on the eve of our departure from Italy for a similar trip. So exciting!
carrom is offline  
Nov 16th, 2009, 11:58 PM
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One fantastic trip and trip report, indiancouple...I have to say I agree with virtually all of your comments (although I did like the Waitomo caves for the glowworms). Well done.
mlgb is offline  
Nov 18th, 2009, 07:00 AM
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Great TR, can hardly wait to pack my bags for March 15th!
arbeeo is offline  
Nov 18th, 2009, 07:48 PM
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indiancouple - in christchurch, when you purchased tram and punting combo ticket, where do you purchase them? thank you. Have so enjoyed your report
carolynne72 is offline  
Nov 18th, 2009, 08:27 PM
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Thanks so much....this has been a wonderful trip report.
I have jotted down lots of your experiences (walks and restaurants) to use when we go to NZ in January/February
oneday is offline  
Nov 18th, 2009, 09:00 PM
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Hi Indiancouple,
Really enjoyed your TR, and thanks for posting it in daily lots, makes it easy to read. It's FAR too long since I've been to NZ and reading your notes reminded me just what a beautiful place, and people, are just "over the ditch".
Time for another visit soon, I think.
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Nov 19th, 2009, 01:33 AM
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Guys, thanks for all the wonderful commens on the TR. I am still traveling. Just got a chance to see the postings over the last few days. Let me give some responses while I have some time.
susncrg, I thought I had named all of our lodgings and restaurants. In case I left out some of the lodgings, they were:
Auckland: Auckland City Hotel, Hobson Street
Rotorua : Sandi's B & B (White House cottage)
Wellington : Southern Cross Apartment Hotel
Nelson: Harris Hill properties (Sunshine Cottage)
Punakaiki : Bluewaves Homestay
Fox Glacier village: Mt Cook View Motel
Queenstown: Alexis Motor Lodge
Te Anau : Birchwood Cottages
Twizel : Omahau Downs (original farm cottage)
Christchurch: Lorenzo Motor Lodge

I am sure I have named all the restaurants.
indiancouple is online now  
Nov 19th, 2009, 01:37 AM
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Thanks carrom, mlgb, arbeeo, oneday, Bokhara2. Glad you liked the report. I am sure we can never agree on every viewpoint, which is what makes each TR so interesting, as we all have different tastes.
carolynne72, we purchased the combo tickets for tram + punting at the i-SITE office on Cathedral Square. I think they are easily available at many places, including the tram driver or the Antigua Boatsheds
indiancouple is online now  
Nov 19th, 2009, 11:19 AM
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Indiancouple - thanks for your wonderfully detailed description of your NZ trip. We are going for the same time period in January. Can you tell me how long (hours) the drive from Te Anau to Milford sound is? I had thought about taking the bus tour until I read your post because we would have already driven so much from place to place. I am curious about the drive, how long it takes to get there, whether the driver gets to see the scenery, etc. Also, did you need a reservation for the ferry between the North and South Islands?
Thanks for your help.
october99 is offline  
Nov 19th, 2009, 11:31 AM
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Hi october99, you might be interested to know that Google Maps works well for NZ travel times. As an outside limit including photo stops and slow traffic, I found 50 Kilometers per hour works fairly well, so between 1.5 and 2 hours travel time.

The driver will wish someone else was driving! At a minimum, there is a pullover before the Homer Tunnel which has some great views. Maybe you could each drive one way.
mlgb is offline  
Nov 19th, 2009, 01:48 PM
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Thanks indiancouple - I may have missed your naming all the places, but now I've got them. Now I just have to start walking more to get in shape for the Milford Track.
susncrg is offline  
Nov 20th, 2009, 05:06 PM
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Thank you, also, indiancouple. We leave Jan 13 for 24 days in New Zealand & were just told we needed to find accommodations in advance or we'd be sleeping in our car as it's school holidays. We've never planned so much detail before & with your help, we'll be relieved of so much stress. Where did you find so much information?
thetravellers is offline  

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