18 days in the wonderful New Zealand with a toddler

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Mar 19th, 2018, 07:15 AM
  #21
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Day 13: Feb 20 2018 – Fox Glacier to Wanaka

Today was supposed to be long day as we were to Wanaka. Last evening, we were informed about Hurricane Gita and its affects. It was about to hit west coast and people suggested us to leave as early as possible. Also, we got to know that Transalpine was not running that day. We thank god for not disturbing our vacation plan and prayed for people who have to go through bad time.

We stopped at Gas station and filled up the tank. Chose Saddle café for brunch. I ordered French toast, wedges (for LO) and DH ordered Pizza which he did not like. So we started by 12. As we drove through west coast, the scenery was beautiful. One side mountains and grasslands, other side beautiful ocean. We stopped at almost all the suggested points like Knights Point Lookout, Ship Creek, Fantail Falls, Blue Pools walk, Makaroa.

We stopped at Haast for gas fill up and refreshments at convenient store. Then started again. I did not realize earlier that drive will be through mountains and I might get mountain sickness. So I planned to stop at all the points even though it was raining. DH chose to sit in car since we did not want to risk LO’s health. It was cold and believe me I was wearing my down jacket. We stopped at various falls and went for walk. I chose to give amiss to Blue pools are day was not sunny and I would see dark blue color of the pools.

We continue driving towards Wanaka. View were amazing after Makaroa. Lake Wanaka or Hawae (donno which one), was flowing parallel. Even without bright sun, it looked beautiful. Light greenish blue color. Rain had almost stopped by then. We stopped at many points along the way to take Photos.

We finally reached Wanaka and checked in Manuka Crescent Motel. We got unit 11. We booked I studio with queen bed. The room was spacious (better than our Fox one). Kitchen was stocked and washroom was spacious too. We transferred our luggage to our room. Rested for a while and then searched for Indian restaurant. We opted for Indian Spice room and started driving towards it. Had it been a bright sunny day, Wanaka would be the prettiest town on earth (May be). Because of clouds and intermittent drizzling, we could not go near waterfront.

We entered the restaurant and found that they only take reservation. I requested and they gave us reservation for 8.30 PM (I think they saw baby with us). We had to wait for 30 mins and to kill that time we went to the convenient store / pharmacy next door. Bought few items and then waited at the restaurant waiting area. We got table in few mins. We ordered our regular items – Samosa, masala Pappad, Mutter Paneer and mix veg (on suggestion). Food was extremely tasty and we loved this restaurant. First thig we enquire was if theses open for lunch and they said No. we felt really bad. So we asked them to pack rice and yellow lentils for the morning.

With 100% satisfaction, we returned to our room. Slept by 10.30 PM. The next day was a big day for DH….
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Mar 26th, 2018, 10:52 AM
  #22
 
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travel with my cat

can i travel to northland to visit this place with my cat?
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Mar 26th, 2018, 10:53 AM
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cat travelling

can i travel to northland to visit this place with my cat?
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Mar 27th, 2018, 06:59 AM
  #24
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Off course you can

Happy traveling!!
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Mar 28th, 2018, 06:15 AM
  #25
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Day 14: Feb 21 2018 – Te Anau
We woke up at 8.30 AM as we had to check out by 11 AM. The actual check out time is 10 but we enquire if we could check out late and Manager told that maximum by 11 after paying $25 late fees. Busy time of the year. We had leftover and packed food from last night’s dinner. We heated up and ate as fast as possible. We left our room at 11 AM sharp.

We started towards Kawarau Bridge as DH was supposed to do Bungy there at 3 PM. We drove thorough Cromwell. The views were getting better and better. Snowcapped mountains and green grasslands, make amazing scenery. I think this is possible only in NZ only. There were roads through the mountains which had snow on them. It was little slippery to drive. We stopped a look out point from where you can see Queenstown from top. But due to cloudy day, nothing was visible. As we are from New Jersey, we were not that much excited for snow but for snowcapped mountains.

After that stop, the road to Kawarau Bridge was very dangerous. Full Hair pin turns. There was a large truck ahead which was driving very slowly and hence we all had to drive slowly. This worked for us actually. DH was very excited about Bungy and I was tensed. ( ). We reached there on time. Actually, I had book zip ride for me. The moment I Saw the ride, I backed out. I am very afraid of heights and water. So DH did it and that too in superman style. Now, the Bungy. The bungy was very scary. I cannot even think of doing it. DH did and he told that it was the scariest thing he has ever done. He has done Skydiving in USA and he did scuba twice despite being non swimmer, but Bungy was the scariest thing. We bought video of his Bungy and then left the place after relaxing for few minutes.

We first went to Arrowtown. It was a cute town and looked lively. We went to a restaurant – Stables. This was actually a stable in 1800s and then later on converted into a restaurant. Had light meal there. Wandered little bit in Arrowtown. It was already 5 PM. We checked the restaurants hour in Te Anau. They were closing at 8.30 and we immediately started for Te Anau. We stopped at countdown supermarket for baby stuff.

As we drove towards Te Anau, the drive was getting beautiful and further beautiful. Lake Wakatipu was too blue. We really wanted to stop at many place (actually everywhere: D) but had very limited time. We chose to stop a café near Kingston and filled up milk for my LO.
We reached Radha’s Indian Kitchen in Te Anau at 8.40 around and they said they were closed. We pleaded them for a takeout as we have kid and they agreed. We thanked them and waited for our order to be ready. We collected our dinner and headed towards our motel – The lake view motel. We filled up gas as tomorrow we were going to drive till Milford sound. We reached out motel and were very impressed with our unit. It was a very nice and spacious 1 BHK apartment. We would definitely recommend this motel. We transferred our luggage and freshened up a bit. Had dinner and finally off to bed by 10.30 PM.
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Mar 28th, 2018, 06:16 AM
  #26
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Day 15: Feb 22 2018 – Te Anau (Milford Sound)
Today we were going to see the 8th wonder of the world – The Milford Sound. We were excited and left our room by 11 AM. The Drive was beautiful (NZ standard). We stopped at few lookout points. We have bought cruise tickets from Jucy rentals (visa Bookme). The mountains near Hommer tunnel were looking absolutely amazing. All snowcapped.

We reached the check in counter around 2.55 PM (Our departure time was 2.45) due to no parking available. Thankfully, they offered us the last cruise for 3.30 PM.
When we were waiting for the cruise, we looked at Mitre Peak and OMG…too big. What a sight!!! We felt so lucky to see the Milford Sound and thanked God for the best weather. As the cruise started, we were only surrounded with peaks and lovely dark blue water. After 20 Mins, we reached to their turning point and got to know that was a Tasman Sea. So vast.

On the cruise, we were chatting to a Crew member and she told that company provides apartment and all other basic amenities for crew members at Milford sound. And she told us how we were lucky to have a bright sunny day for this cruise. The experience of Milford cannot be written in words. I would definitely suggest everyone to go for this cruise on their NZ trip.

We started back from the cruise around 5 PM and had to reach restaurant before 8.30. On the way back, we stopped for s small walk in Chasm. Nice small walk. We also stopped at few random spots where the sceneries were mesmerizing.

We reached Radhas’s Indian kitchen by 8.30 and they said they could not take us. We were sad but then we went to an Italian restaurant – La Toscana (I think 3 store away). We ordered veg pizza and pasta (in white sauce). One of the best pasta I ever had. The service was good too. We were still in awe of Milford sound. We went back to our motel, packed our bags and were asleep by 10.30 PM.
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Mar 28th, 2018, 09:54 AM
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Just dropping a note that I'm still along for the ride. Your cruise of Milford Sound sounds incredible.
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Mar 28th, 2018, 01:59 PM
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<<We really wanted to stop at many place (actually everywhere: D) but had very limited time.>>

Ah yes, the lack of time, a recurring theme with first time visitors to NZ.

So glad you had nice weather for Milford - you have no idea how lucky you were!

I'm happy to hear that La Toscana is still good - we've been there many times over the years.
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Mar 29th, 2018, 05:56 AM
  #29
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Thanks a lot tripplanner001 and Mel for reading my TR.
Yes. Milford sound was incredible and could not thank enuf to God for the best weather on that day.

Lack of time and traveling with LO makes you restricted. taking out of care seat and putting back again is a tough work; that's why we did not stop at many points for Photos. But yeah we clicked through our eyes and it will stay there forever.
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Apr 3rd, 2018, 06:02 AM
  #30
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Day 16: Feb 23 2018 – Queenstown
We woke up around 9 and vacated the motel by 11 AM. DH was very excited for the drive (and views) between Te Anau and Queenstown. We stopped at few points for photos. Amazing views. But got a call from our Hunger and directly stopped near Fergberger. OMG!!!... Huge line. Could not believe it. But then we wanted to eat their burger. So waited for almost 45 mins and opted for takeaway as there were no seats and it was very hot.

So we checked in Crowne Plaza. Nobody can beat the location of this Hotel. Best views. Checked in process was smooth (as DH is an elite member). The room was small comparatively but we had big balcony which had views of serene Lake Wakatipu. Could see few big boats (or small ships) emitting smoke. May be steam engines.


We finally had Fergburger’s burger and they were delicious. Specially the Tofu one (we are Vegetarians). We strongly recommend the burgers (at least once you should try). My LO enjoyed French fries. We were so tired of traveling that we decided to go for a nap. We woke up by 6 PM and went to Lake Front for a stroll. We just love aimless strolling on boardwalks/ lake fronts. We chose Bombay Palace restaurant for dinner. Food was decent and service was excellent. Our LO was crying a lot and the only way to calm him down was to show ‘Wheels on the Bus’ poem. But we did not have data and there was no WIfi in the restaurant. One of the servers offered his phone (and data) and played the poem for my LO. Thanks to him, we had a very peaceful dinner.

After dinner, we were again strolling on Lake Front and sported Ferg ice Cream parlor. I opted for Vanilla and DH opted for Chocolate. Loved it but had to finish fast as LO should not ask for it. Then we saw casino and were about to go; suddenly realized that toddlers won’t be allowed. So we kept strolling.

Went back to Hotel. Did laundry and checked about Gondola & Glenorchy.
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Apr 3rd, 2018, 06:04 AM
  #31
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Day 16: Feb 24 2018 – Queenstown
We woke up with full excitement for Gondola. Reached there by 11.30. But parking is a problem there. Somehow, after 10 mins found a spot and then went towards the Gondola. Bought tickets and were waiting in line. Noticed that the cars were smaller and people were taking bikes along with them. Adventurous people.

We sat in Gondola car and it started going up. I was scared (little bit). When we were half way, we saw the beautiful Lake Wakatipu. Amazing view and color of the lake was too blue. When we reached up, we went to the observation deck. Finally we got to know why Queenstown Gondola is so famous. Magical views from the top. Since we were very hungry, we enquired about the restaurant and got to know that they take reservations only. So opted for Café upstairs.

We ordered veggie Pizza, fries and ready to eat Quinoa & Kale salad. The salad was very tasty. I wanted to buy one more but it got over. After having the lunch, we went to observation deck and clicked almost 100 Photos. So many tourists but still managed to take photos. Cannot stop thinking about those beautiful views. We stood there for some time to just gape and feel lucky.

We came back by 3.30 around to car park. Next stop was Glenorchy. I told DH id he not willing to drive; we can skip it. But he wanted to see the views and we started for Glenorchy.


This drive is out of the world. Literally, felt as if we are in movie where scenery is digitally enhanced. I think we said ‘WOW’ almost 50 times during the drive. We saw all the shades of blue any water body can have. Mountains, lake, grasslands…everything was there in their most beautiful form. We reached Glenorchy in an hour and took a break at one café (forgot name). Bought cookies and fruits.

We decide to go to the boardwalk. Saw a cute red hut with Glenorchy written on it. That point of so beautiful and on that bright sunny day, it was looking magical. We clicked almost 150 photos. Each and every photo was beautiful. We stayed there for 1 hour. We actually gaped for 1 hour. Glenorchy is must to for everyone. We initially planned for few small hikes/ points (suggested by Fodorites) but we current views were so satisfied that we chose to sit and enjoy there only.
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Apr 3rd, 2018, 05:33 PM
  #32
 
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Still following along and very much enjoying your report. Your description of NZ's scenery is what I hope to experience on our next visit there.
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Apr 5th, 2018, 11:34 AM
  #33
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tripplanner001

NZ cannot disappoint anyone. It is beautiful everywhere. You will have one of the best vacation there.
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Apr 5th, 2018, 11:35 AM
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Day 17: Feb 25 2018 – Mt Cook (Twizel)
We got up around 10 AM and checked out around 12. I wanted to have Fergburger once more. Today also, same condition. Huge line. But this time we found a seat. Had amazing burgers and we started towards Mt Cook. The drive time was supposed to be ~4 hrs. While leaving the, we both were very sad. Wanted to spend 2 more days here. I told DH that there are only 3 types of shops in Queenstown – Restaurants, adventurous activities and miscellaneous (very less).

We filled up gas at the outskirts of the town and resumed our driving. The drive was through the mountains and I got little motion sickness. We stopped at Lindi Pass. Stopped there for some time and took few Photos. As I was not feeling well, we decided to directly stop at our motel. When we were 2-3 miles away from our motel in Twizel, we saw a very small lake (it was a part of big lake). The color of that lake did not feel real at all. From far distance. It looked like a swimming pool. So instead of checking in to the Motel, we straight away went towards that lake.


Got to know that it was Lake Pukaki. During sunset (with clouds), it had light blue color. It was looking so beautiful. We were mesmerized and all the tiredness from driving vanished in a minute. We stopped at a lookout point (forgot the name; but it was past Twizel and Mt cook’s turn). The lake was looking superb but it was windy more than Wellington. We took out our jackets and put them on immediately. In fact, I remember wearing winter cap. We stood there for like 20 mins. Took many photos. We were actually waiting for a big cloud to pass so that Sun can be seen. When there is bright sunlight, lakes look different (more beautiful). We waited, waited and nothing happened. So we started towards Twizel.

We chose to stay in - The Lakes Motel Twizel. The Check in process was easy. Host had already left by them leaving the keys and all necessary information in a book. Our room – 1 BHK, was good. We had 1 double and 1 single bed. The hall was spacious and kitchen was clean. We transferred our luggage to the room and freshened up. We were looking for super market as well as restaurant. Found that both were 10 mins walking. We preferred to walk as both were fed of siting in a car.

We went to the super market for buying regular stuff. And we chose Jasmine Thai cuisine for dinner. When we entered, young kids (~ 15 yrs.), showed us our table and gave the menu card. We did not like children working in a restaurant. We ordered veg fried rice and noodles. Got to know that they were out of Tofu and reason was amazing. That young child told that they get groceries every alternate days from Christchurch (OMG) and they will get next delivery the following day. The Noodles and rice both were very tasty. DH generally does not like noodles but he ate and kept on appreciating it. I was surprised and happy. Then, a man in his late 40s came to serve water and we got to know that he is father of those boys. The restaurant is family run. We passed on our appreciation to the cook and that young kids told us that their Grandmamma is the chef. Now we got to know why that food was so tasty.

One though here. DH and I strongly oppose child labor. But we did not feel wrong or bad for these kids. After school hours, if there is nothing else to do. There is no harm in helping parents in their work. Anyway, we thanked a lot to the whole family for the delicious dinner and headed back to our motel. We were very tired and slept off early.
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Apr 5th, 2018, 11:36 AM
  #35
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Day 18: Feb 26 2018 – Mt Cook (Twizel)
We woke up around 9 and left for Mt cook by 10.30. Our destination was Hermitage hotel. As we drove towards that, we saw Lake Pukaki. OMG!!! How beautiful!! This blue color was the most unique color we have ever seen in our lives. We could not believe our eyes (and luck). On a bright sunny day, this lake was looking magical. We stopped at Peter’s look out point and took numerous Photos. This lake confirms that there are places in this world where there is no pollution / contamination at all. I definitely recommend visiting this lake for each and every NZ visit. Nobody can get enough of this place and its beauty. If we had more time, we would have stayed there for hours just for gaping.

But we had to proceed towards Mt cook. We reached Hermitage hotel and saw Mt cook. It was huge and pretty (snow-capped). We chose to have lunch in the café. Café was big. We ordered burger, salad and fries. Food was decent. We had booked 3.30 PM helicopter flight/tour for Mt cook with a glacier landing through MT cook Ski planes. We clicked few photos outside hermitage hotel and proceeded towards flight center.

There was a couple from Boston who were supposed to be in same helicopter as us. We were chatting with them and go to know that they were in NZ for almost a week with RV. They were doing the CHC-QTN-CHC loop in clockwise direction. The tour people showed us one video related to flight safety. They gave small noise cancelation head phone for our LO. They also told that since that day was very bright , it was not that cold up there. Still we all wore our down jackets.

We started the tour with 6 tourists in that Helicopter including us. We were crumbled and very hot inside. My Lo started crying badly and we could not help. He was not ready to wear his head phone too. After 7-8 Mins we landed on snow. We felt better and started playing / taking photos of snow. The pilot took out family photos. We were asked to come back on the plane in 10 mins. Time flew fast. When we sat again in the plane we took of our down jackets and hence the return flight was very easy and thus enjoyable. We liked the experience but not definitely recommended.

We headed towards Hooker valley rack. DH warned me that it would not be possible with LO and his stroller. But still I wanted to go. We parked the car and got to know that the track is not at all stroller friendly as it had many steps and swing bridges. DH suggested to go till first Swing Bridge and then play it by the ear. We progressed towards first Swing Bridge. The views were good. Honestly, I started missing NZ from there only. Only 1 day had left in our NZ Vacation. We reached near first Swing Bridge and saw 10-15 steps. We immediately decide to turn back. Took few photos before starting back.
We reached Twizel around 6.30 and wanted to go for early dinner. We went to Ministry of works bar as they had veggie burger and pizza. Ordered our regulars. Service was little slow and food was Ok. We went to motel, packed and went to bed around 10.30 PM.
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Apr 5th, 2018, 11:37 AM
  #36
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Day 19: Feb 27 2018 – Mt Cook (Twizel)

Today, we had a long drive and a flight ahead of us. We check out around 11 and drove towards Lake Tekapo. DH was not well. He had fever so we just stopped at one café for light brunch drove towards CHC airport. Our flight to Auckland was at 7.20 PM. The drive from Mt cook to CHC was good but not as exciting as what we have already experienced. So we decided to stop directly at airport. We reached by 4.30 PM and DH finally got to rest for some time on airport. We have snacks – burger /fries from airport. Boarded flight and reached Auckland on time. We had booked Holiday Inn near Airport. The check in process was smooth. We were going towards out room and Oh Boy!!!! There were no elevators in the hotel. I pity the people who put the luggage for travelers. The room was on second floor only but still 7-8 Steps with heavy luggage. Our room was good and their Bed wins the award for the best bed in whole NZ. We opted for late in room dining and DH loved their Pizza. Next morning we had 9.55 AM flight to Bora Bora.
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Apr 5th, 2018, 11:38 AM
  #37
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This ends my Trip report on NZ. The moment we boarded our flight to Tahiti, I realized what does ‘heavy heart’ means. We simply loved NZ and would definitely we will go back there.

Since this is my first TR, I would love to have feedback and questions, if any.
Thanks again to all the Fodorites.
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Apr 5th, 2018, 12:46 PM
  #38
 
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Thank you kindly for sharing your trip with us. What an excellent report - and easy to read. The details and emotions you put into it make it come alive, as if I was right there with you.
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Apr 5th, 2018, 04:38 PM
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I enjoyed your report immensely sonaligupta - I have been to NZ many times and its always fun to see it through the eyes of others. I'm glad you had such a good trip!
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Apr 10th, 2018, 06:15 AM
  #40
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Thank you Tripplanner001 for appreciating my TR. I have been planning for this trip since last 7-8 months and hence was very excited. Now, after coming back ; do not want to miss single emotion I had during my trip.
Hope u have a great time in NZ when u get there
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