A Pleasant Revisit To New Zealand

(pg 1)

In Nov 1999, my wife and I had a wonderful two-week sojourn in New Zealand.  We traveled by car to both South and North islands and were completely entranced by the unspoiled beauty of the country and the friendliness of its people.

The revisit this time was with my trekking buddies and our wives. Besides touring the beautiful country by cars, the trekkers also planned to hike the Milford Track located in South Island’s Fiordland National Park

1. Introduction

In Nov 1999, my wife and I had a wonderful two-week sojourn in New Zealand. We traveled by car to both South and North islands and were completely entranced by the unspoiled beauty of the country and the friendliness of its people.

Early this year, when my trekking buddies suggested that we made a trip to New Zealand with our wives in September, I had no hesitation in consenting to a revisit to this beautiful country. Besides touring by cars particularly in the South island, the boys planned to hike the Milford Track located in South Island’s Fiordland National Park.

Three couples from Malaysia - Kenny and Josephine, KC and Sow Cheng, me and Lucy, and Larry from the US participated in this tour. A flexible itinerary was drawn up by Kenny in which the girls would be doing a separate program when the boys were out trekking. The final itinerary for the boys is as shown below.

Final Itinerary

Sat, 6/9 - Arrive in Auckland at 10.50am and out of terminal by 12.15 pm. Transfer to Christchurch (by domestic flight 1445 - 1605). Overnight in Christchurch.

Sun, 7/9 - Christchurch to Dunedin (by domestic flight 1130 - 1215). Overnight in Dunedin.

Mon, 8/8 - Drive from Dunedin to Queenstown. Overnight at Queenstown.

Tues, 9/9 - Oueenstown activites (shot-over jet, bungee, white water, ski-fields). Overnight in Queenstown.

Wed, 10/9 - Oueenstown to Te Anau. Overnight at Te Anau.

Thur, 11/9 - Te Anau to Milford Sound and Cruise. Overnight at Te Anau

Fri, 12/9 - Day 1 Kepler Track, Te Anau – Luxmore Hut.

Sat, 13/9 - Day 2 Luxmore Hut – Te Anau. Drive to Invercargill. Overnight at Invercargill.

Sun, 14/9 - Around Invercargill and to Bluff. Overnight in Invercargill.

Mon, 15/9 - Invercargill to Gore / Clinton (via Presidential Highway) and Southern Scenic Route to Dunedin. Overnight in Dunedin.

Tues, 16/9 - Dunedin to Auckland (afternoon flight). Overnight in Auckland.

Wed, 17/9 - Auckland to Hamilton to Roturua by car. Overnight in Roturua

Thu, 18/9 - In Roturua. (Museum & lakes). Overnight in in Roturua.

Fri, 19/9 - Roturua to Taupo (geysers, mud pools, volcanic springs) and back to Auckland. Overnight in Auckland.

Sat, 20/9 - Auckland to KL, flight leaves at 12.50 pm

Kenny and Jo remained in Dunedin after 15/09 to be with their son who was studying in Otago University and also they had to attend their daughter’s convocation in Auckland on 26 September. So they did not continue with the tour program in North Island.

In our travel in New Zealand we did not make any reservation for accommodation except in Christchurch which was our first stop of our tour. In early September, New Zealand is still in early spring (off peak/winter season*) and there are not many tourists around and vacancies are abound in all motels.

* It looks like there are only two seasons in New Zealand: summer and winter, the latter lasts from May to late October.

The episode below portrays the spectacular beauty of the scenery all along our journey and of the places we visited. Included also are my unreserved tributes to the New Zealand’s environment and its peoples’ lifestyle.


2. The Scenic Journey

a. In Christchurch

Our first overnight stop was in Christchurch. Our prearranged accommodation was at Airport Getaway Motor Lodge located not far from the airport. A huge limousine was at hand to transfer all seven of us and our luggage from the airport to the Lodge.


In the evening, we took a bus to the centre of the city for dinner. After dinner, we took a stroll in the city which was pleasant and the view at the city square was particularly beautiful with the lighted Chalice alongside the Cathedral Sculpture.



We left Christchurch in the late morning of 7/9/08 by flight to Dunedin. At the airport, Alex, Kenny’s son was there to receive us. From the airport we hired a car and together with Kenny’s we drove to the city of Dunedin. 


b. In Dunedin (7/9/08 &15/9/08)

Dunedin was the base where we started our road journey in the South Island. We returned to Dunedin on 15/09/08 after we had completed our South Island tour.

Dunedin is a university city of Scottish heritage. Its ancient name was Edinburgh when in the mid 1800 Scottish migrants established a town here. It is well known for its Victorian architecture.

The thriving buzz of Dunedin is the Octagon, an eight-sided square lined with cafes and bars in the centre of the city.




The highlights of Dunedin include the Speight’s Brewery, the Otago Museum and the Baldwin St. - the World’s Steepest Street and is listed in the Guinness Book Of Records.

Speight’s beer is the “Pride of the South” and its advertisements are found everywhere in big signboards in facades of big buildings and even on doors to toilets!



Balwin Street, a cul-de-sac of 350m length, is located in the suburb and is about 3.5km from the city. Its lower reaches are only of moderate steepness and the surface is asphat, but the upper reaches with its surface in concrete are far steeper with a gradient of 1: 286 or 35%.


As in many hilly parts of New Zealand, roads and buildings on hill slopes are constructed with minimum of excavation resulting in less or no destruction to the terrain. This is in total contrast with practices in Malaysia where hills are often flattened to build roads and houses. In Malaysia we limit the gradient of highways and roads to 10% - this is an antiquated British Standard for building of roads to cater for bullock carts and overloaded trucks!


c. Queenstown (8 & 9/9/08)

We left Dunedin on 8/9/08 for Queenstown. The journey was pleasant and the views were spectacular and scenic.

Before reaching Queenstown we stopped by Arrowtown Chiness Settlement, a quaint historic gold-miners’ settlement. This settlement was built by the Chinese miners in the 1800s. The settlement includes Ah Lum’s Store and outhouse which operated until early 1970s. It has been partially restored as a tribute to the contribution made by the Chinese gold miners and business people to the region’s gold-mining, cultural and business history.



Queenstown is a resort town in Otago. It is built around an inlet on Lake Wakatipu, a long thin lake and has spectacular views of the nearby mountains.


Queenstown is also a centre for adventure tourism such as skiing, jet boating, bungee-jumping, mountain-biking, and tramping. We went to see bungee-jumping but did not participate in the adventure. We also went to a skiing resort, but it was snowing and wet.




Queenstown lies close to the centre of a wine producing region; reputed to be the world’s southernmost. Its wines are internationally acclaimed, in particular its awarding winning Pinot Noir. This vibrant spicy flavor red wine is a perfect companion to the tender New Zealand lamp shank!


We toured a few vineyards and tasted wines of many grape varieties. We also had lunch at a winery restaurant where we learnt to pair wine and food. By the time we left Queenstown, we became quite well versed in foods and wines of central Otago. From then on, we would have a bottle of our favorite Pinot Noir after almost every dinner!

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