Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Part 4: Holiday to South Island of New Zealand (28 Nov-13 Dec 2012) - 6-7 December 2012

6 December 2012: DOUBTFUL SOUND
The journey started at 7AM when the bus from Real Journeys came to pick us up at the nearby Caltex Station (5 min walk from our motel) and drove to Manapouri to take the boat to West Arm. Then transfer to a bus for Doubtful Sound passing Wilmot Passthe most expensive road in NZ. *Our bus got into trouble, the fan belt broken, so had to wait for the lady driver to repair it*
At 10AM, we reach Deep Cove Wharf to board another boat to start the journey to Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise

the view @ Doubtful Sound

Hundred waterfalls along the cruise.

The Sound is the site of several large waterfalls, The surounding hills are known for their hundreds of waterfalls during the rainy season.
More informations about Doubtful Sound, just click here.

During our cruise, the rain almost never stopped, though sometimes only drizzling. If only there was sun appear for a while, they said we would be able to see many rainbows...
We saw some dolphins and penguins but no seal at all.
We did really the enjoy  the absolutely stunning scenary, both excursion vessels were very comfortable with complimentary coffee and tea.

Since we joint the earlier tour, we got the opportunity to visit Manapouri Underground Power Station,  to  view the immense underground machine hall and learn the story behind this power station.

Takahe the flightless bird from Te Anau

We cooked curry chicken for dinner..
Have a nice sleep for the next destination tomorrow...

7 December 2012: WANAKA
After morning revival and breakfast, we left Te Anau for Wanaka. Along the way, we stopped @ Lazy Bones Cafe, 1158 Athol Garston Hwy Athol Garston, located between Arrowtown/Queenstown to Te Anau. The foods and hot beverages were nice .. Free WIFI ... Everyone just tried to logged in as soon as we found out that Wifi was available .. Lazybones sells a lots of unique gifts and souveniers.

Tried the Venison Pie and hot choco and coffee..

We stopped at Amisfield Winery for wine tasting and some of us bought some bottles of wine.

Salt & Pepper from Lazybones Cafe

Amisfield Winery

The view when reaching WANAKA

Rippon Vineyard, Wanaka

Wine Tasting @ Rippon
We reached Wanaka about 2PM and direct looked for lunch .......Then we checked in at Aspiring Campervan. After checked in, we immediately left for Rippon Vineyard for another wine tasting and bought wines.
Back to hotel. Some of us enjoyed the free sauna, some took pictures, some enjoyed hot drinks. The cool weather always make us feel hungry .. We saw rainbows right in front of our rooms ..

We had decided the Italian food for tonight @ Capriccio,  facing Lake Wanaka. The foods were good and the price quite reasonable.. 
Lamb Shoulder, portion for 2 Asian

Night had fallen ........ Eyes need to be closed, energy need to be restored for tomorrow ...... Good nite everyone ..

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Part 3: Holiday to South Island of New Zealand (28 Nov-13 Dec 2012) - 3-5 December 2012

 After corporate morning revival to refresh our spirit and thank the Lord for all His leading, we prepared and enjoyed our breakfast while enjoying the scenery around us..
Breakfast @ outdoor

Mt. Cook and Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki is located under the Alps of Mt. Cook as seen at some pictures here.

Lake Pukaki and Mt. Cook
About 10AM, we were checked-out to continue our journey to Arrowtown. We did try to find the salmon farm, which is just about 20-30 min drive from the place we stayed, unfortunately we could not find it. We stopped by at Twitzel for a break and having lunch here. We had fast foods and ice cream..
*we bought the foods from a nearby fast food restaurant and had it at the nearby park. Because the price for dine-in is more expensive compare with take-away. Something different from Singapore*
On our way to Arrowtown, we found High Country Salmon Farm and stopped to buy fresh salmon for our dinner tonight.
We arrived at Arrowtown about 5.35PM and checked in @ Poplar Lodge. After some marketing for our dinner, we prepared dinner with main menu: SALMON ..

Main Road, Buckingham St. @ Arrowtown
Scenery on the way to Arrowtown

Dinner with Salmon and wine @ Poplar Lodge, Arrowtown
After dinner, we went out for a walk around the lodge. The main road, Buckingham St, was 2 min away from the place we stayed. We stopped and bought kiwi wine *but the taste of kiwi wine not suite my taste*.
Tonight didnt see much stars on the sky .. so we decided to sleep early after some wine tasting and nothing much could be done outside..

Background is the Kawarau bridge for bungy jumping
This morning about 9AM we departed to Cromwell. On the way, we stopped at Kawarau Bungy Centre, the world's first commercial bungy jump. None of us went for the jump, but we went in and could see all the activities of the jumper clearly from the nearby viewing deck. If u an adult and want to try, just prepare NZD180.00 for 1 jump.. Book online at their website to get some discount. Or, you want to be tied up & thrown off with a friend, then this is the site for you, as it offers Queenstown’s only tandem Bungy Jump. Their advise, "sharing the thrill doesn’t mean halving the fear!". Once you ready and stood on the edge of 47 metres above the stunning Kawarau River, your final choice is clear – how wet do you want to get ................

Then we continued to Mrs. Jones' Fruit Orchard. Actually we already booked via internet for orchard's tour. But due to some miscommunication at their side, we only entered into their nearby farm, Cherry Farm. Then we did some shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables, ice cream and some dried foods. They have a nice garden and free for us to enter and it is the time for photo taking .............. :D

Cherries on the tree..
Rose Garden @ Mrs. Jones Orchard

Next destination after this ... the famous Queenstown, Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu. It is built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu,  New Zealand's longest lake, 80 km,  and, at 291 km2 (112 sq mi), its third largest lake in NZ.
This town is very unique and interesting. Many beautiful houses facing the lake.. The main road is not that long but very crowded with many shops and restaurants/eating place. If you walked behind the main street, you will enjoy the close lake view.
We tried gondola and luge. If you travel in a group of 5 (family), 8 or 10 people, the prices will be much cheaper. Think first before buy the tickets, as the price for just sit on gondola compare with combo's price (gondola and luge ride) can be different a lots . . If you a Mountain Bike's rider, then this is the place. We saw many mountain bikers here...Bring your own bike..
Lake Wakatipu as background
With Mrs. Jones

 Another jumping in Queenstown that can let your andrenalin run faster, called Ledge Swing will cost you NZD150.00..
Gondola ride. Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown at the back
Get ready for LUGE ...

We went back to Arrowtown (20 min drive from Queenstown) and visited Arrowtown Chinese Settlement. 

Swing jumping @ Queenstown

The so-called TOILET
Bank of Arrowtown river, maybe there is gold for us??

Group Pix before say bye-bye Poplar Lodge

Arrowtown Bakery
Before we drove to Te Anau, we stopped by at "a must try Pie shops", the famous Arrowtown Bakery .. I love the chicken pie.. very delicious.

@Lake Hayes
We stopped a while at Lake Hayes to enjoy its blue color water. We didnt stop too often except for petrol and toilet break, as we had a tour booking @ Te Anau at 2PM.
After drove about 3 hrs, we arrived at the holiday homes that we booked: Family Retreat. The house quite big and all for 12 of us.
Family retreat
After put in the luggage, we went to the tour agency to joint Te Anau Glowworm Caves Tour from Real Journeys.
Ready for the boat ride @ Te Anau Lake
Floating to see the gliterring worm *Photo from Real Journeys's website*

The 30 min ride across the lake of Te Anau to the caves was really beautiful. We had excellent clear weather so the view were amazing with cool weather.

After some explanations @ Cavern House, we started the walk to the caves. At the caves you take a walk through the caves. You have to do some bending and crouching to keep your head clear of rocks. You walk past a waterfall and then arrive at some boats. Once you loaded up they turn off the lights and you drift on an underground lake and watch the worms. They ask everyone to remain silent which is good as it adds to the experience. The worms are worth it. NZD75.00 for 2hrs15Min tour. (note: photography and video filming are not permitted inside the cave).

When we arrived at Te Anau, we heard that the road to Milford Sound was closed due to heavy rain that caused rocks falling. We already booked for the next day to drive to joint Milford Sound tour. Since no assurance that the road would be opened the next day, we decided to change our itinerary by joining Doubtful Sound tour, operated by the same company.
We did some marketing at the nearby supermarket for our dinner and tomorrow lunch ..
We had beef and lamb steak for dinner .................... and wine, of course .. *white or red, anyone??*

After dinner, we went out for a walk .. Since this is summer time, the sky was still bright until 10PM ..

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Part 2: Holiday to South Island of New Zealand (28 Nov-13 Dec 2012) - 1-2 December 2012

1 December 2012: AKAROA
After all arrived at Sis. Jess Ting's house @ Hounslow St., with 3 cars, we went to AKAROA, the French Settlement, about 75km from Christchurch. The weather was good and bright ..
About 1 hour later, we stopped at Hilltop Tavern, CafeCafe, Bar, Restaurant located at SH75, Akaroa  A good place to take a break from driving and a popular stop-off  the way to and from Akaroa. The location is amazing with a fantastic view over Banks Peninsula towards Akaora. And the views... oh, the views. The weather was perfect as we sat outside with a cup of hot chocolate and muffin, looking down the valley and across the harbour to Akaroa.
The view from the Hilltop Tavern, Akaroa

Enjoying the good weather outside HillTopCafe

After satisfied with the hot choco and pictures taking (actually each of us just spent a cup of choco and/or muffin but we stayed for more than 1 hour to enjoy the beautiful scenery and good weather), then we proceed to AKAROA.
Akaroa is a French Settlement. Explore the township by food and enjoy the typical French houses, shops and Akaroa Bay. From here you can joint the Dolphine Cruise and many other activities.
We taking our FISH and CHIPS lunch here, closed with Ice cream .. Yummy..
Akaroa Bay

French Villages @ Akaroa
 Tonight's dinner was a treat from Br. Hong/Sis. Lily @ Red Bowl Chinese Restaurant..
Dishes from Red Bowl Chinese Restaurat
 After dinner, we went to downtown area to see the places where the last earthquakes were happened. Many buildings are still im damaged conditions and under renovation/re-building. And there is a containers mall, not a mall that selling containers, but a mall where the shops are using containers as their selling place. The dressed up the container in very nice and colorful designs. Even many banks also using containers as their offices..

Container Banking, CC downtown, after Earthquakes

Christchurch Downtown @ Night

Containers Mall
 *ChristChurch city were strike with 2 devastated earthquakes in the year 2011. Many buildings and houses were damaged, even the famous Cathedral also gone.. More informations about Christchurch Earthquake 2011
In anticipation for the other earthquake *hope will be no more earthquake*, at some dangerous places that affected by the past earthquakes will not be built a permanent building instead using a container as a building.

In the morning we went to collect the cars that we rent for this trip. We rent the car from Jucy Rentals. From 2 to 12 December 2012 we were travelling South Island of NZ. We rent 2 MPV cars (for 12 of us) for 10 days and since we rent 2 cars, they lent us 1 GPS for free... We bought the all-risk-free insurance, though it means extra expenses. It is adviseable since none of the 12 of us ever been to NZ prior to this trip. Yeah.................. car collected, luggage uploaded, and we all ready to start the journey .........
Before the travelling journey started, since today is the Lord's day, we need to remember the Lord by attending the Lord's Table Meeting with the saints from the church in Christchurch.
with the Saints @ the Church in ChristChurch..
 After the lovefeast as our lunch, we ready to go ............. Our first destination was Lake Pukaki.. about 4-5 hrs drive from Christchurch, about 290km. On the way to Lake Pukaki, we stopped at Farmers Corner, Ashburton which is belong to one brother in Christchurch. We bought some souveniers, enjoyed the garden and after a curtosy hot chocolate or hot coffee served with shortbread, we continued our journey..

The garden @ Farmers Corner

Hot Choco and shortbread @ Farmers Corner
As and when we saw a beautiful sceneries or something interesting, we stopped for photo taking.  Along the roadsides and unattended areas full with these beautiful wild flowers, Lupins..
Wild Flowers, Lupinus sp @ Lake Tekapo
OTW to Lake Pukaki
We stopped by at the famous Lake Tekapo. Taking pictures at the beautiful scnenery with its pretty lupis flowers and with the famous Church of the Good Shepeherd. Then we continued to our destination of the day, Lake Pukaki. The distance from Lake Tekapo to Lake Pukaki about 49 Km, but the road to Lake Pukaki was bumpy because of the gravel road so we could not drive too fast. We booked and arrived at Braemer Shearers Lodge about 7PM. This lodge is very simple yet the surrounding view is very astonishing.. After almost 1hr on the bumpy road and 5 hours drove on the road, the view that we saw when we arrived at this place erased all the tiredness... 
Some of us arranged the rooms distributions, some prepared dinner for tonight and some refreshed themselves. Tonight's dinner was Chicken Rice ..*If you stay at this lodge, better bring enough food unless you plan to go out and drive about 1hr to get your food,  no shop or restaurant at the nearby facinity. Also this place not suitable for those who want privacy as most of the rooms are connected one another and. Facilities are shared--there is a kitchen with complete utensils for simple cooking and a communal bathroon with multiple shower stalls, toilet stalls, and sinks. There is a nice lounge area with fireplace. Views out the windows of the sun setting over Lake Pukaki with Mt. Cook in the background are awesome! *
One of the bedroom with the best view

Chicken rice for dinner
Braemer Shearers Lodge, Lake Pukaki

Bit goodnight after saw millions stars on the dark sky .. Get ready for the next destination ..