Before I started the journey, I guess I had the same doubts as you all may have:
1. How am I going to plan the itinerary to such a large territory in New Zealand?
2. Is it hard to drive a camper van? Would it be hard to sleep? Can I charge my phone in the camper van?
I hope my information and itinerary can help you guys.
Date: 28th of April – 13th of May
Weather in the Autumn: 1°c-16°c
Sunrise & Sunset: 7.30am & 5.30 pm
Camera & Accessories：
Mavic Pro, Go pro 5, Sony A6000, Huawei mate 9
PS: I made a video clip of our Sky Dive & Bungee Jump experience as well as a drone video。😎😎😎
We were a group of four though, we reserved a 6-seaters Camper Van. Our road trip ended up being very comfortable because we got 3 queen size bed as well as a in-car heater. It felt like staying in the physical house. The Camper Van we booked was the Britz 6 Berth Camper Van and it costed us about NZD 2500 (=2380 SGD = 7050 MYR) including insurance fee.
While we were on the way, we actually saw another camper car passing by us which happened to be a more luxurious Camper Van from Wilderness. After we did some research online, we found that Wilderness Rental Car Company offers better camper van and the price is no much difference.
Driving a Camper Van is actually not a difficult job. To me, it felt like driving a larger version of Van or Hilux. For those who are worried, you may go to the website to know more about vehicle operation in New Zealand.
We drove for 2300 km in the whole road trip and we filled the petrol tank for about 5 to 6 times. A full tank of petrol costed us about NZD 70 (=67 SGD = 200 MYR). So in total we spent about NZD 350 (= 335 SGD = 1000 MYR) in petrol filling.
Please go to the Tips on Booking a Camper Van in News Zealand for more details.
You can easily get a SIM card in the airport or supermarkets like New World. If I’m not wrong, the place that you rent the camper van will provide free SIM card. In the trip, we actually bought a Vodafone SIM card and a 2°c SIM card. Basically, the Vodafone SIM can receive the network in any places and the network is rather stronger. Therefore, you can download the Vodafone New Zealand Apps on your smartphone. As long as you have a credit card with you, you will be able to purchase any data plans in the apps. In fact, Vodafone has a My Flex Prepay plan which is suitable for travellers. You can customize your preferred volume of data, call time and text message in the plan by yourself. We adjusted the data volume at 3.5 GB (max) and set the volume of text message and call time at the 50 minutes and 50 messages (min) since we only needed the data network. It costed us NZD 35 (= 33 SGD = 100 MYR) by the way.
- We always prepared the breakfast on our own. Basically, you can find all kinds of supermarkets in New Zealand easily, while the most common you can get to is the New World. It’s kind of like the Giant in Malaysia or Fairprice in Singapore so you can get anything you need there.
PS: They even have Instant Noodles in store so you need not bring it from your own country like we did. How silly we were!
- A meal in the restaurant usually costs 10-20 NZD ( =9.5-19 SGD = 30-60 MYR)
- If I had to suggest some must-eat food, I would go with:
- Kaikoura Seafood BBQ (Day 2-4) – I had the best lobster there, which ended up being the best food I had in the whole New Zealand trip. It’s from a street stall, though, it even tasted better than the lobster we had in another restaurant called Green Dolphin. The price of the lobster depends on its size, it’s about 60-80 NZD (=57-76 SGD = 170-226 MYR).
- Fergburger (Day 10) – About 12-20 NZD (11-20 SGD =34-57 MYR). Take a look at my itinerary to Queenstown for more details.
- The routes I personally love the most: Lindis Pass, Haast Pass, Christchurch to Kaikoura (Route 7 and turn to direction to Waiau). For more details, do look at my itinerary.
- The road condition is considerably good. There are many winding roads in New Zealand though, you are safe to go as long as you follow the speed limits set by the authority, basically. Drive Safe!
Prices for activities:
1. Kaikoura Whale Watch: 150 NZD (= 146 SGD = 440 MYR)
PS: You will be 80% refunded if the whale doesn’t appear.
2. Fox Glacier Heli Hike: 425 NZD (= 404 SGD = 1200 MYR). Free cancellation fee 24 hours before the trip.
3. Nzone Skydiving:
- 15000 feet-60 seconds freefall: NZD439.00 (=417SGD = 1250MYR)
- 12000 feet-45 seconds freefall: NZD339.00 (=322SGD = 970MYR)
- 9000 feet–25 seconds freefall: NZD299.00 (=285SGD = 845MYR)
It can be added on with the photography service, Skydiving Photo and video price:
(i) Handicam Photos and HD Video: NZD189.00 (=180SGD = 540MYR)
(ii) Freefall Photos and HD Video: NZD259.00 (=246SGD = 738MYR)
(iii) Combo Package(i)+(ii): NZD329.00 (=312SGD = 940MYR)
- 43-metre Kawarau Bridge Bungy Jump:NZD195.00 (=185SGD = 555MYR)
Kawarau Bridge Bungy Jump video & photo: NZD80.00 (=76SGD = 230MYR)
Unlike others that propose to their loved one in a pre-booked restaurant with a lot of friends and families as guest or witness, I personally have been wanting to propose to my girlfriend during vacation or in some other special ways. Not only because I’m kinda low-profile type of person, but I’m also afraid I would be loss of words during the proposal. While the main reason is, of course, my girlfriend said she wouldn’t like the wedding proposal to be crowded. Therefore, I thought of having my proposal during Skydiving in New Zealand.
In fact, wedding proposal during skydiving has become a new trend in this era, not to mention that they are quite experienced in handling this kind of proposal plan. All you need to do is send them an email to inform them how your proposal goes. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS: You will not be allowed to carry anything onto the jet during skydiving, so you will need to pass your wedding ring to their officers in main office a day before. When you are touching down from skydiving, the technicians will pass you your wedding ring for the proposal. They will put your wedding proposal banner in place on the landing spot. It sounds romantic, right? However Nzone Skydive neither sells flower nor makes banner for you so you need to prepare them all by yourself.
- If you are to Skydive at Queenstown Nzone, I recommend you to get the flowers from email@example.com because they make delivery. 12 roses in a bunch is for NZD129 (= 122SGD = 360 MYR)
- Banner was made and printed in Malaysia. Price would be less than 100 MYR if you design it on your own. The banner size I prepared was about 2m x 1m, which ended up being too small when I saw it from the sky. So, I suggest you to make one with the size of at least 5m x 5m.
Day 1 – Christchurch
At 4pm, we arrived at Christchurch Airport. We collected our camper van from the car rental company so we can depart to the next city the day after. Pedro’s House mutton with potatoes was what we had as dinner in our Camper Van. The portion of it was quite big enough for 2-3 person. Food Rating: 7/10
Campsite: North South Holiday Park
Day 2-4 – Christchurch to Kaikoura
Duration: 3 hours
Route: Take Route #7 and turn to the direction to Waiau (The Route #1 was blocked by the New Zealand Authority because it’s severely damaged by the Earthquake). The Route #7 is quite rugged because you will be passing through many mountains. However, the scenic view of these mountains in the autumn is definitely worth it. I personally think that Route #7 is one of the most beautiful routes to go with. It feels like you are in the movie scenes.
Campsite: Kaikoura Peketa Beach Holiday Park
1. Kaikoura Whale seeing tour
Posted by Yeap Kent on Saturday, July 8, 2017
2. Seal seeing in Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
Food: Kaikoura Seafood BBQ Lobster !! This was the best of the best food I had in New Zealand. Food Rating: 10/10 no doubt.
Unexpectedly, it was the only day we managed to catch the galaxy and the starry sky was unbelievable.
Caution⚠: Those that easily get sea sickness or shall prepare motion sickness pill💊 because the sea wave is incredibly intense. In fact, you could also get the pills there from the vendors, but the wave🌊 was too strong that the pill didn’t help my girlfriend.
Day 4 – Kaikoura to Hokitika
Duration: 5 hours
Route: Route #7
Campsite: Shining Star beachfront accommodation
Food: Fat Pipi Pizza was not bad. They offered plenty of choices. Food Rating: 8/10
Activities: Seeing ‘Glowworm’ in Hokitika Glowworm Dell (They are not firefly though, you can google it!). It wasn’t too far away from our campsite. We reached there on foot. If you are interested to go there, bring a hand torch or head torch with you because it’s so dark there that you may not be able to see the path clearly. What’s good is that the admission fee is free of charge and you are allowed to take photos there. If you are not planning to go to Waitomo, you may consider going Fox Glacier or Tenaau to see the Glowworm.
Day 5 – Hokitika to Fox Glacier
Duration: 2 hours and 35 minutes
Route: Route #6
Campsite: Fox Glacier Lodge
Before we departed to Fox Glacier in the morning, it poured very heavily. I still insisted on going to Hokitika Gorge, a place with streams of river in mystery blue colour. I was longing to witness that nature beauty until I realized I was faked by those so called photoshopped pictures on Internet. The streams are brownish and turbid in reality. Watch the video if you do not believe. Disappointed. It was raining cats and dogs so I was the only one to go down from camp van and head to the Hokitika Gorge. I did take some photos and video over there though.
Day 6 – Fox Glacier
Initially, the plan was to ride the helicopter in the morning for the glacier walking. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t good too because it was dazzling. We were told that helicopter tour would still be going. However, if
- The helicopter doesn’t take off, you would get 100% refund.
- The helicopter is up in the air but it’s not safe to go down to the Glacier, you would get only 30% refund.
- The helicopter takes you to glacier already but the journey has to be shortened due to weather, no refund.
We didn’t want to take the risk so we went for Fox Glacier Valley Walk, where we could watch the glacier from afar. Just 2.6 km away, it took us 1 hour.
Day 7 – Fox Glacier
1. Lake Matheson Walk: Here you can literally take a photo of the gorgeous reflection of the highest mountains in New Zealand, namely the Mount Cook and the Mount Tasman. The return trip took one and half hours. We set off at 6am to see the sunrise, but there were already so many professional photographers queuing ahead of us.
We really wondered how early they were there. ‘4 am’ said a friendly photographer. And it felt like 1-2 degree Celsius that time. I, at that moment, really admired the professionality of the photographers. Therefore, if you want to grab a great spot for photoshooting, be early. Anyway, there are 3 perfect spots you can take photos, namely the reflection island, the jetty view point as well as the view of views. I, of course, already went to 3 of these spots and I love the reflection island the most because the reflection of the mountains are incredibly amazing. It was so beautiful that we could not believe we managed to catch the view with our naked eye. Worth! PS: The sunrise and sunset gave us different kind of feelings, but both were spectacular!
2. Fox Glacier Heli – Hike: a 3-hour discovery in the glacier. It’ll be safe because a tour guide will lead the way. I personally have never taken helicopter ride or seen any naturally-formed glacier before, so it was extremely worthwhile to me.
Caution⚠: You had better bring a pair of sunglasses because the glaring sun ray around would possibly hurt your eyes.
FYI, glacier is a slowly moving mass or river of ice formed by the accumulation and compaction of snow on mountains or near the poles. It’s totally a different thing with a frozen river. Besides, glacier is only formed on the land, normally takes hundreds of years. Meanwhile, the glacier in New Zealand, is of Alpine Glacier. Firstly, the collision of tectonic plates of the Earth formed the Southern Alps in New Zealand. Then, this continental rises 10-20 mm every year, causing a very steep slope. The humid air in the high attitude of Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia is crystalised to form snow. The snow falls onto the Southern Alps and accumulates to become ice. Due to the steepness of the slope, these ices, with its mass of weight, drops along the slope, and eventually became glacier.
Day 8 – Fox Glacier to Wanaka
Duration: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Route: Route #6, From Fox Glacier to Wanaka, you will be passing through a very famous road, called Haast Pass. On the way, there are two stations for you to take photos, namely the Blue Pool and the Lake Hawea. In fact, you will need to go on foot in Blue Pool to catch beautiful view. After that, you can drive along the Lake Hawea for the amazing view of lakes and mountains. Definitely one of the most amazing highways in New Zealand, in my opinion. You may turn off the car there and enjoy the view.
Activity: Blue Pool Track – This return trip takes a 40 minutes walk. This time I wasn’t fooled. The river was real blue, like its name. In the summer, you may see a lot of the youngsters diving from the 8 meters high bridge to the pool to swim.
We really relaxed ourselves in Wanaka with its chain of mountains around, it’s also not crowded or touristy like Christchurch and Queenstown. It wouldn’t be as barren as the Fox Glacier neither. I feel like shall retire here! Even though you can find nothing to do in Wanaka, it’s still good to be idle there. After having dinner, we decided to go to bed early to prepare for tomorrow’s 6-8 hours journey.
Food: Shinaburo Korean Eating House – We had been having Western Cuisine during vacation and we finally found Korean Cuisine House. Without thinking twice, we ordered our Korean food there! The food was kind of like a Chinese style one so it really fitted our appetite. Somehow, I found my Kimchi Fried Rice tasteless, maybe they forgot to pour some salt in it.😭😭😭 Food Rating: 8/10
Day 9 – Wanaka Roy Peak
1. Roy Peak Climb: Climbing the Roy Peak is considered safe yet energy draining. Along the path, it’s quite steep so it might take you some time to go up. We started the hiking at 7 am and we used more than 4 hours to reach the peak. We, as well, spent 2 hours on lunch and photo session. Then, we incredibly spent only 1 hour to go down the hill.
PS: Most of the travellers go up to the peak just to take a photo of this view, so you really wonder why it is not packed at the peak. In fact, people are just there to queue for the photoshooting while some are hiding behind the scene to avoid photobombing. You will have queue for about 30 minutes to take a photo and, in fact, you need to queue for most of the attractions.
2. Wanaka Lone tree: One of the most photographed trees in the world. The tide was low when we were there. So, we did photograph the tree but did not photograph its loneliness. Sounds deep.
Food: Wanaka Gourmet Kitchen – The special feature here is that you actually barbeque the meat on your own. The lamb shoulder was really large in portion so don’t you have this dish all by your own to avoid food wastage. It’s kind of overpriced, anyway. Food Rating: 6/10
Day 10 – Wanaka to Queenstown
Wanaka to Arrow Town Duration: 1 hour
Arrow Town is famous for its beautiful scenery in the autumn. Arrow Town Autumn Festival is held every autumn. Too bad we were there later than the happening of the festival so we missed it out on. Nevertheless, it’s not too bad we managed to see more than 5 different colours of tree leaves though these trees grew up in the hill.
Seeing this stunning view immediately made me forget about not being able to make it the the autumn festival. In fact, other than the breathtaking view in the autumn, Arrow Town also keeps the history and culture of the Chinese, who travelled across the sea to New Zealand and worked as gold miners. Other than that, there are two rows of souvenir shops in Arrow Town so you may stop there to buy some souvenirs. You will pass by the shop while on the way to Queenstown anyway.
Arrow Town to Queenstown: 20 minutes
Queenstown is the undisputed adventure capital of the world. There are full of extreme adventure activities and I’m interested in Sky Diving, Bungy Jump, Nevis Swing, Shotover Jet, Shotover River Rafting and The Luge. However, due to limited time and money restraint, we could only go for Bungee Jump and Sky Diving.
Food: When it comes to food in Queenstown, you could never miss out on their famous Fergburger! It was awesome! We queued for 20-30 mins and the food was definitely worth the wait. Food Rating: 9/10.
Day 11 – Queenstown
- Nzone Sky Diving: The whole experience took about 3 hours.
- 15000 feet-60 seconds freefall: NZD439.00 (=417SGD = 1250MYR)
- 12000 feet-45 seconds freefall: NZD339.00 (=322SGD = 970MYR)
- 9000 feet–25 seconds freefall: NZD299.00 (=285SGD = 845MYR)
There are few options of videos and photos:
(i) Handicam Photos Video (199 NZD = 190 SGD = 570 MYR): Tandem master will capture your entire skydive experience including all of the parachute ride using two wrist-mounted GoPro cameras. One records your video and the other takes high quality photos. In other words, all photos and video captured will be of your ugly faces and not too much of the view, which I would not recommend though this is the cheapest option.
(ii) Freefall Photos Video (289 NZD = 275 SGD = 818 MYR): Have your own personal freefall photographer skydive alongside you. You will be able to see your whole skydive experience and the full scenery.
(iii) The Ultimate Combo (359 NZD = 341 SGD = 1041 MYR): both options mentioned above.
I personally took the ultimate combo package which is the most expensive. However, I will choose package (ii) if I play again.
We opted to jump from the highest altitude of 15000 feet. The moment when we jumped, everything was like a sudden stop and we were awaken by the strong wind. Looking at the view from the sky was amazing and beautiful! At that moment, it waived the regret of not having parachute in Czech Republic.
After landing, I made a very important decision in my life – proposing to my girlfriend. And she said “YES”!
- Kawarau Bridge Bungy Jump – Whole experience took about 2.5 hours.
I felt that bungy jump was scarier than skydiving as you are jumping on your own. You have to take your step off the platform which is 43m height (about 10 storeys). Comparing to skydiving, even when you are scared, the attached master would jump out of the jet with you. Therefore, bungy jump has a better bet for adrenaline rushes I would say.
Day 12 – Queenstown to Lake Pukaki
Queenstown to Glenorchy Duration: 44 minutes
Before this trip, a few friends of mine have told us that the highway from Queenstown to Glenorchy is one of New Zealand’s most scenic highway. Unfortunately, probably because of the foggy weather, we didn’t find it as scenic as the previous highway we took. Furthermore, there is nothing special in Glenorchy except for a small red house, a bridge and a few strange trees. However, Glenorchy is well known location for horse riding as well as the filming location for the famous Lord of the Ring.
Glenorchy to Lake Pukaki Duration: 3.5 hours
Route: via State Highway 6 and 8. There is a famous road called Lindis Pass, a mountain pass at an elevation of 971m (3,186 ft) above the sea level, on the State Highway 8. It is a scenic reserve, which lies approximately 32 km Southwest of Omarama, but the boundary for the scenic reserve starts about 18 km South of Omarama. It is like another world, the landscape is empty but immensely gorgeous. You will see yellow-brownish grass on the mountain slopes that looks like short and soft fur from afar. If I have sufficient time, I will stop here and just idly see this incredible view which is not supposed to exist in the reality.
Campsite: Stay over by the Lake Pukaki. This was the first time we stayed overnight in outskirts. Having the sashimi in front of the iceberg was really a great pleasure in life. The place we stayed has also called The Pines.
PS: Lake Pukaki is a glacier fed lake. The water colour of the lake is in bright turquoise which is so stunning that makes it different with other lakes. When the sun hits on the surface, it transforms to a brilliant blue.
- Mount Cook Alphine Salmon – Bought 500g Sashimi, NZD 30 (=28.5 SGD = 85 MYR). Food Rating: 7/10.
- High Country Salmon – We did not have enough Sashimi the night before, so we bought another 400 grammes the next morning, NZD 30 (=28.5 SGD = 85 MYR). The sashimi here is better than the first one and you can dine in. The previous one is only for take away. Other than that, there is a fish pond at the backyard where kids can feed the salmon fish in the pond. Fun experience for the kids. Food Rating: 8/10.
Day 13 – Lake pukaki to Hooker valley
Duration: 1 hour
Activity: Hooker Valley Track – It was another rainy day. We decided to go on foot when the rain intensity became smaller. Hooker Valley Track is well-known for its lookout point at the end of the track that you can enjoy the completely unobstructed views of the Mount Cook. In front of that is a Glacier Lake. The whole return trip takes about 4 hours.
Ps: We thought our body immune system was so good that we didn’t bother to cover our head in the rain. But things happened the other way around. We all got sick the next day.
Day 13 & 14 – Hooker Valley to Lake Tekapo
Duration: 1 hour
This place attracts a lot of travelers or photographers because it has the least light pollution in New Zealand. In other words, it’s a great place for taking night shots of the galaxy. But, sad to say, the two nights when we were there were full moon and gloomy so we could hardly capture a good photo of the sky with stars.
Ps: Most travellers go to the Church of Good Shepherd or Mt.John to photograph the night starry sky.
Camp Site: Lake Tekapo Holiday Park, the only camper van campsite at Lake Tekapo. This campsite allows you to barbeque at the outdoor. Watch the video here. So, without any hesitation, we went to the grocery store to get some beef meat and red wine. The food satisfaction we had could favorably compare to 5 stars Michelin Restaurant, no joke. It was the only great memories we had there. Food Rating: 10/10
Day 15 – Lake Tekapo to Christchurch
Duration: 3 hours
I had a fever that day, so I was really struggling the whole day, especially when I had to stay a night at the airport.
Ps: Christchurch airport is not open 24 hours. It is closed at 11pm but you can pay 10 NZD (= 9.5 SGD = 28 MYR) to reserve yourself a spacious seat in the airport, with a Beam Bag.
Day 16 – Christchurch to Singapore
This marked the end of our road trip in New Zealand.
**Currency Rate – NZD:MYR:SGD = 1.05:3:1
Thank Yeap Kent for sharing his road trip experience in New Zealand with Leasany.