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Monday, February 20, 2012

Travelogue: New Zealand (Day 9-17)

Continued from the previous post

On Day 9, we took a bus from Christchurch and headed towards Lake Tekapo. Tekapo is about midway from Christchurch to Queenstown...takes 4 hours by bus. The bus is quite luxurious and comfortable and is perfect to enjoy the beautiful scenery that the South Island has to offer.

Tekapo is outstanding and I am short of words to describe the beauty of this lake! The bright turquoise blue color of this lake is because of the rock flour left behind by the melting glaciers. We were lucky to have the bright sunlight and awesome weather after a week long of rainfall. There is a small town area close to the lake and everything there is exhorbitantly priced with no other option around. So be prepared to pay double the cost for accomodations and food/drinks..We had booked a cottage right beside the lake and enjoyed a beautiful view of the lake from our room...

The next morning we took the same bus from Lake Tekapo to Queenstown which was another 4.5 hrs of journey. We stayed at Hotel Copthorne which had a view of Lake Wakatipu and also the cable car viewpoint. It's a little on the expensive side but good ambience, walking distance from the town centre and very convenient. We walked around the town and lake wakatipu that evening and did some shopping.

On day 11 we had booked a overnight cruise at Milford Sounds with Real Journeys. We were picked up from the hotel and off we went to Milford Sounds...a long 7 hours journey!! Quite tiring as you have to take a round about route to reach there. But the bus had 85% glass with half the roof being glass as well. So the views were awesome! Reached Milford sounds at 3.30pm and started the cruise at 4pm. The weather was sunny, bright and beautiful. There was time for water sports once the cruise ship was docked to spend the night at a cove amidst the sounds. It rained heavily the whole night and the next morning was raining and the clouds were so low that we could reach them easily! It gave a mystical look to the place, very different from the previous sunny evening. It looked like we were in a Narnia land..very magical and out of this world! After cruising through the tasman sea, we headed back in the same bus to Queenstown with another 7hrs of tiring journey...

Day 12 was "ADVENTURE" day. You cannot leave the adventure capital of the world without trying some extreme sport! So we had booked a skydive with was my first skydive and I was excited and nervous! Luckily the weather was clear and we could skydive as planned. The whole skydive experience calls for another blog post. So I will save it for that :)

Day 13 we headed towards Franz Joseph glacier. There are 2 famous glaciers in NZ - Fox glacier and Franz Joseph which are about half an hour's drive apart. It doesn't matter which one you choose to visit! The bus journey was another 8 hours again but we saw some beautiful lakes on the way and saw the west coast as the bus goes right next to the tasman sea on the west coast line....Reached Franz Joseph by 4pm and checked in to our Rainforest resort. The town of FJ is just 1 small road about 4kms long. You find just the basic necessities and some good variety of restaurants.

Day 14 was the glacier trek. They have variety of options and difficulty levels for the trek, so you can choose any depending on your interest, fitness level and duration of stay. The glacier is not too big, so even if you skip visiting this, you do not miss much!!
On Day 15 we took a bus from FJ to Greymouth (about 4hours) and then the most famous TransAlpine Scenic train to Christchurch which goes through Arthur's Pass. The journey of ~5 hours through the Southern Alps is very memorable and totally worth it! The train stops for a short while at Arthur's Pass so that you can get down and check out the majestic mountains...

We reached Christchurch in the evening and just had dinner and crashed in our hotel. It was our last night in NZ and I was feeling sad to leave that beautiful country!! The next morning we took a flight back to Singapore from Christchurch...moving back to reality!

It was the best vacation I have taken so far and I fell in love with the country and its people. I had a strong urge to go back and settle down there for a lifetime! I spent the next few days having severe vacation blues :) Even today when I think about the days I spent there, it brings a smile on my face and I truly feel happy. Someday I shall visit NZ again! :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ End of the Travelogue ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~