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 Lake Tekapo

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The Daily Journal

Day 1 – SingaporeChristchurch

23rd September 2006, Friday 10° C     Quest Apartment $129


The Flight

After 9 hour plus of traveling on SQ297, finally, we touched down at Christchurch International Airport at 1 pm.  We were supposed to arrived 2 hours earlier, but due to the aircraft anti-icing feature was not working, the Airline decided to change the air-craft instead, that causes our departure time to be delayed from 9:05pm to 11:30pm. 

Airport & Immigration

Christchurch Airport was really small, and we made sure we consumed all the food including drinks we brought, as the immigration was very strict on bringing food into the country. In addition, soiled shoes must be reported too! They were so protective of their land. Malaysian did not require visa, but Indonesian had to pay S$120 to get the travel visa from NZ office at Takashimaya.

Visitor Center

After long wait in the queue we managed to come out and again another wait for the luggage.  Once we were out, we headed strait to Visitor Center, and we were so amazed of how well prepared the Tourism Board of NZ is, we were flooded with 1001 brochures for all kind of activities, scenery, hotels etc.  This was the best Visitor Center we had ever been.

Car Rental

We gave a call to our Car Rental company, Anzed, and Teddy’s wife picked us up by 1:30pm.  The office was just 10mins drive, and we were given a fairly new Nissan Pulsar, CKJ 363 for our 10 days trip.  Car rental was N$47.70 a day and additional $12 insurance for better coverage.  After a quick lesson on Snow-Chain & Traffic-rules, we were all set to start our adventure.  We filled up the back compartment with 2 big luggages, and the back seat with our other small hand-carry bags.

Quest Apartment

We checked into, Quest Apartment located next to The Cathedral Square. The hotel is pretty good for the price of NZ$129 (including breakfast).  The breakfast turned out to be 4 slices of bread, some jams & butter, 2 small bottles of orange juices, and 2 small bottles of milk. The bed did not have heater though. 


Christchurch was a very small & not-so-lively city, there were not much traffic on the Friday afternoon, surprisingly.  We visited the famous Cathedral, and had a short tour around the magnificent building, followed by walking to the Art Museum and the Botanic Garden.  We really loved this Botanic Garden, we took many photos with the flowers, and in the cooling weather, we lay down on the grass next to the river, and enjoyed the beautiful sunset. However the temperature started to drop very fast and the weather became very cold. Note that similar to Australia and European countries, the shops closed quite early, around 5-6 p.m.


The casino was very small and quite old. Definitely not comparable to Vegas, but the food was not bad. We got some voucher from the hotel; $5 meal voucher and a glass of beer.  We had the NZ Steak, seafood basket and the famous NZ Speight’s beer.

Grocery Store

We took the free city shuttle bus to the nearby grocery store. We really liked to go to Groceries whenever we visited a country, as this was the only place we could get closer experience of how local live & eat. NZ had lots of interesting food products; some of the food was similar to Australia.  After we left this grocery, we found out there were 2 larger groceries nearby. Basket! And something stupid we realized after that was that we should had driven to groceries instead of taking the shuttle bus, coz we bought so much things to prepare for our trip.



Day 2 – ChristchurchLake Tekapo (~300KM)

24th September 2006, Sunday 5-12° C                        Tailor-Made NZ$64


The Journey Began

Yeahhhh! Just the two of us, ready to travel for at least 3000KM in 10 days, it’s a lifetime experience for both of us. Though we traveled to many places before, we never drove all the way. We began our adventure with Scenic Highway 72, and heading to Lake Tekapo. We took turn driving, but somehow Wee Cheng always drove on the smooth straight road while Abel drove on the curvy and hilly road. This happened many times until Abel gave up and let Wee Cheng drove. Along the way, we could see the mountains half covered with snow, and we passed by many farms filled with sheep. We named the sheep as buttons since from far away they really looked like buttons to be pressed.. toink toink..  After 1 hour leaving Christchurch, certain parts of the road became a bit difficult to drive, as it’s curvy and hilly. We passed by Methven but didn’t go up to Mt. Hutt – a famous Ski Mountain.


We arrived at this small town of Geraldine at noon, and had lunch at one of the café. The pies were really good.  We bought some homemade liquor chocolates, which were very good too; we regretted that we did not buy more. We also bought NZ$28 south-island map, which was proven to be the best kit we had for the rest of the journey, as the free maps were not detailed enough.  We visited Barker’s shop to taste the special jams & garnishes they produced; it’s really good; We bought jams and chutney.

Mt. Dobson – Ski Area – A Road to Hell

We were told this Ski Area was closed, but when we passed by the entrance at about 4pm, there was a sign showing “Open”, so we decided to give it a try.  The sign showed 14KM, so we thought it should be ok, and we should reach there very soon, but it turned out the worst experience we ever had.  Climbing up hill on a dusty, curvy, and unsealed one way road and any miss of 20cm we would fall off the cliff into the deep valley.  It was very scary, and after 30mins, we decided to turn around and head back to the main road. Wee Cheng became paranoid of driving to ski areas since then.

Tailor Made Backpacker Motel

We arrived at Lake Tekapo at 5 p.m. and checked-in to the NZ$64 Tailor-Made Backpacker Motel.  Though it’s a Motel but the room is very clean, with clean towels, toilet, heater etc.

The Lake & The Church

Lake Tekapo population was only 300; it’s a very small and romantic town. Out of all other towns and cities, we loved this place the most. The lake was very beatiful, overlooking at Mt. Cook, like some mentioned ‘Golden Mountains’ during sunset.  There was a small church just by the side of the, and there were couples come all the way here to have their wedding ceremony here, a really romantic place. The lake was very windy.  


Star Gazing tour was NZ$48 per person, we decided to give it a miss, since it was quite cloudy that night. We went up hill 4KM to the Observatory ourselves instead, again very curvy and unsealed road; but if we were to fall here, it would be less severe than the Mt. Dobson hill.  The wind was very strong, so we enjoyed the sunset and headed back down to town again.

Dinner @ Kohan

This Japanese restaurant won many awards, and we had Lamb-Shank curry and Chicken-Don, it’s very tasty, and good.  Of course, we had it together with a pint of local Speight’s beer for only $5.  Total dinner cost only $35.  After the meal, we headed to one of the fish & chips bought 2 Huge Scoops of Tip-Top ice cream (Rum & Raisin) for $2.50. The scoop was really big, the biggest we received in the whole journey.   

Star Gazing

We drove a bit further out of town and enjoyed the beautiful stars in the sky, it’s really nice, as it’s pitch dark, therefore we can see lots of stars including the milky way.

Day 3 – Lake Tekapo - Dunedin (~400KM)

25th September 2006, Sunday 2-14° C            Abbey Lodge NZ$119


Salmon Farm

We left Tekapo at about 11am, and pump $54 worth of petrol (1.547 per liter).  After 30 mins drive, we arrived the famous Alpine Salmon Farm, it operated 24-hour a day, we also bought the $3 feed each and entered the ‘Kelong’ like style salmon-cage to feed the hungry salmon.  These salmon are kept and breed in the Lake, and I think it different from those caught in the salt-water sea.  We ordered 250g of Sashimi for $10 and enjoyed the fresh salmon sashimi there.  We also bought a whole salmon for $13, and hoped that we can cook it in our next hotel. We passed by another salmon farm on the highway, but this one was quite small. We did not stop there.


We passed by Twizel & Omarama, both are small towns and in Omarama, we passed by a Sheep-Shearing House, $25 per person, but we had  to wait for at least an hour before the next show started, so, we gave it a miss and tried their Wasabi Ice-cream instead.


We arrived at this town at about 5 pm, it’s a beautiful town with many historic buildings being preserved.  As it’s located at coast area, there were yellow-penguins resided in this area, we didn’t manage to spot any, but we enjoyed the walking along the beautiful coast, overlooking to the South Pacific Ocean. 

Moeraki Boulders

After a 20-30 mins drive, we reached this place and saw the special round-stones along the beach.  Not sure how these round huge stones are formed, and it’s just stunning, how they managed to be found here. Note that to go here you could either go from the Restaurant or from the beach, it’s better to go from the restaurant as it’s nearer, especially during cold weather.


We arrived Dunedin at 6:30pm, it’s a beautiful & hilly town.  It’s just like San Francisco; Many houses were built on the hill.  We drove around the city, and decided to visit a Chinese Fish & Chips store and bought some beef fried frice & fried scallop & fish, also we bought 3 pcs of KFC Chicken from nearby just to try how the chicken taste like in the Kiwi Island.  The KFC here was awful, maybe it’s just in Dunedin.

Abbey Lodge

The hotel was not bad. There was indoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi, so we enjoyed and relaxed in the Jacuzzi. However the drawback was that it’s location turned out to be quite far from the Octagon (the city centre). I would recommend staying in the scenic circle city hotel which is right in the city.

Steepest Road

We also visited the Baldwin Street, steepest road in the world.  The road was really steep, and I wondered how the residents went up and down the hill every day. This street is steeper than Lombard St in SF, see told ya this place is so similar with SF.  


 Day 4 – Dunedine - Te Anau (~375KM)

26th September 2006, Monday 5-12° C           Explorer Motor Lodge NZ$90


Cadburry World

For $15 per person, we visited the Cadburry World tour, we have made the reservation for 9:15am tour, this Cadburry Chocolate factory located right in the City, and we parked our car at the Railway station for $5 full day.  It’s a very interesting tour, and we saw the whole process of how Cadburry chocolate is made, and received about 6 samples of chocolate as well. The chocolate smell was so overwhelming. We also bought some nice chocolates that were only available in NZ at discounted price. Tips: Try to join the tour at 9.30 at the earliest, because the workers only start working at 10 am that’s when you can see the machine operating.


We toured around the City, and managed to find a nice hotel restaurant serving good roast beef for $8 and lamb-shank for $12.  It’s really nice, and lots of roast potatoes, however the service was really slow. Actually later we found out the service in NZ restaurants was slow, and we had to be patient.


Next to the Dunedin city, it’s a long strait of Peninsula, and it’s famous for the Penguins and Castle tour.  We visited the castle for $20, and it’s not a nice castle, considering we had to travel 15KM of very curvy coastal road. We took another route to go back, but the other road was quite hilly but it’s not so bad, as the road was sealed.

Heading to Te Anau

We departed Dunedin at about 2pm, and headed to the west to Te Anau.  We passed by Milton, Balclutha, Clinton, Gore, Riversdale, Lumsden, Mossburn. We decided not to go through southern scenic route, because the journey would be longer and the road would be curvy and unsealed. But our decision is well worthed because we passed by a lot of nice greenery farms. 

Te Anau

We arrived in Te Anau at 8 pm, and explored the town which was located next to Te Anau lake.  There were many nice looking restaurants there, but as our Fresh Salmon had been traveling with us for two days, we decided to cook it.

Explorer Motor Lodge

This motel was not bad either, the room was well equipped with kitchenette and cooking utensils. The bed has heater too.

Salmon Dinner

We enjoyed the self-cooked dinner, and slept early, since we had to wake up at 6am the next morning.


Day 5 – Te Anau – Milford Sound –Te Anau- Queenstown (~400KM)

27th September 2006, Tuesday 0-10° C          Garden Court Suite & Apartment  NZ$113


The Road Milford Sound

Yes. This was the place where many scenes were taken for the movie – Lord of the Ring.  We had to travel 121KM in 2 hour 20 mins to reach Milford Sound from Te Anau; it’s not because we were slow driver but because the road was curvy, but it was not so difficult, just that you should not stop in certain areas since some places are prone to avalanche. It’s very cold in the morning, and we had to turn on our heater in the car to keep ourselves warm.  The first 1 hour was quite ok, the road was quite flat and straight, and certain parts of the road actually went through forests.  We also stopped by to take some nice photos of the mountains covered with huge chunks of cloud.  And there’s a lake called Mirror lake, we stopped by to take some photos as we can see reflections of the snowed-covered mountains.  The next hour on the road was very risky and full of adventure one, as it’s very hilly and there are many Avalanche area, what is Avalanche? It’s very new term for us as well, it means Huge Chunk of Snow coming down from the mountain, and there are many people killed on the road because of Avalanche.  While driving, there were many warning signs telling driver not to stop, as chances of us covered by Avalanche when moving would be much lower.  As it’s very hilly, we couldn’t travel very fast as well.  Along the way, we saw many stream with water gashing down, and it must be from the melting snow from the mountain.  We passed by a very long & dark tunnel – Hommer Tunnel, as it’s pitch dark, for the first 10 seconds, we could not really see anything even though with our car head-light on, it gets better after our eyes adjusted to the darkness.  Don’t ever try the public toilet along the way there, because it’s a nightmare. I had no choice since I could not wait any longer and it was a disaster.

Breathe Taking Scenery at Milford Sound

Yes. We arrived there safe & sound! It was such an achievement. We reserved the 9:30am Cruise Ride with Redboat.  As it’s the first cruise of the day, it’s not very crowded, and we were brought to different parts of the Sound, to see many water-falls and beautiful mountains. We also spotted a Blue Penguin & a Seal.  The scenery there was really breathe taking, and worth every dollar we spent on the ticket (NZ$72).  We also visited the underwater observatory, but it turned out to be a disappointment, there’s not much thing to see there.

Driving Back to Te Anau

Driving back to Te Anau was much easier, as we know what to expect along the way, and we finally reached the town at 3:30pm, did some grocery shopping, bought some souvenirs and headed straight to Queenstown.

Way to Queenstown

Driving to Queenstown is quite easy except for 30mins before reaching the town, we had to travel along side a mountain; it was very curvy.  We drove faster as we wished to reach The Famous DEER PARK before dusk. 

The Deer Park

This park was located 10 mins before reaching Queenstown, and we paid NZ$20 for a car to enter the park, no one guarded the park, we just had to slot in our $20 note into the machine to allow the car to go in.  This park was big, and it’s in a Mountain, so, there were many unsealed hilly driving, but it’s quite safe.  We bought $1 of animal feeding in a very big tin and we could feed many animals along the way, it’s like a Open Zoo, where you could have close encounter with animals like mini horses, pigs, deer, sheep, llamas etc.  Some scenes of LOTR were shot here as well, and at the mountain top, the scenery was really nice, overlooking Queenstown, and also in our sights are two great Ski Mountains – The Remarkable and Coronet Peak.


Queenstown was truly a tourist and entertaining city, there were many adventurous sports that tourist can enjoyed here, in addition there were 4 Ski Mountains near by.  The City itself was not big, but full of live. We had our dinner at one of the restaurant - Brittania, serving us Vernison (The Deer Meet), Lamb Shank & Lobster.  And of course, a local beer on tap for $5, the whole dinner cost us $95; quite costly but very good meal. We bought Tip top ice cream, which turned out to be very small, I felt cheated. Somehow I felt this city was quite dangerous; there were many punks.

Garden Court Suite & Apartment 

This was our best accommodation, the room was big and it had LCD tv. In general most of the hotels here were pretty new, nice and not so expensive.



Day 6 – Queenstown – Lake Wanaka (~150KM)

28th September 2006, Wednesay 2-15° C       Edge Water Resort $103


Coronet PeakSki Mountain

We decided to go for Skiing today, and we catched the shuttle to the Coronet Peak (20mins) for $20 per person return, actually, with our own car, we could have driven there, but from the experience at Mt.Dobson, we decided not to.  But, the road to Coronet Peak was quite easy; the road was very well built.

First Time Skiing

It’s our First time, we took up the Solomon’s Learn to Ski package for $90 per person, including rental of boots & gears etc.  It was truly a life-time experience, and learning to ski was not as difficult as learning how to do rollerblading. During the first 1.5 hour lesson, we were thought how to wear the gear, to slide and to stop.  The 2nd part of the lesson was more interesting, as we could use of the Lift to climb further uphill, so that we could ski down hill.  As long as we can make a ‘Wedge’ – an arrow shape pointing to the front, our speed would be slower and it’s not too risky.  In a couple of times, Wee Cheng could not make that wedge, and the result was traveling downhill too fast, and fell.


We left Queenstown at 4:30pm, and reached Arrowtown.  It’s an old town, and with nice shops long the street.  There was a Chinese Settlement museum located nearby, showing how Chinese live here in the past during the gold rush time.  We bought some Fudge and Candy from the shop, and also Beef Steak Burger & Kumara Chips and heading towards Lake Wanaka.

Lake Wanaka

The road to Lake Wanaka was very hilly and curvy. We arrived at Lake Wanaka at about 7pm. Yes, it’s a beautiful place, and there are many tourists (local) coming here to enjoy the nice scenery, skiing, golfing etc.  We had the best dinner of our trip there at the Ale’s House, enjoyed the $25 huge rack of Rib and $15 full plate of Goat’s liver with Bason. 

Edge Water Resort

This was one of the good hotels too. The bed had heater thus we could sleep warmly. The room was facing Wanaka Lake. At night we could see the stars too.   



Day 7 – Lake Wanaka – Fox Glacier (~400KM)

28th September 2006, Thursday 3-10° C         Lake Matheson Motel $90


Lake Wanaka – Puzzling World

For $7 per person, we visited the Puzzling World, developed by the owner who loved puzzle a lot.  There were 4 rooms, and many of them using different perspective & angles and making lots of things seems unusual to you. 

Road to Fox Glaciers

We left Wanaka at 11pm, and it was a long journey to Fox Glacier, passing by Haast Pass, and Haast Village.  Along the way, we passed by beautiful water-fall (Thunder Creek Fall) and streams.  There were many sand-flies, and opening our car door for 5 seconds would attract many sand-flies sneaking in. We passed by Haast Beach, but nothing much there. We also passed by another salmon farm, but when we reached there they just closed the shop.

Fox Glaciers

It’s a very small town, and we had our dinner at Café Neve, which was a recommended place for Pizza.  We ordered a Roast Lamb Pizza for $19 and we could only finish half.  We also tried the Crème Brulee dessert for $10.50; it was heavenly. 

Lake Matheson Hotel

Despite the name, the location of this hotel was far from the lake. We wanted to go to the lake, but it would require 30 mins walk, so we gave a miss since we wanted to save energy for the glacier walk.


There’s a small forest where you could see glowworm. It was so interesting that the worm could shine, the color was greenish blue.



Day 8 – Fox Glacier – Hanmer Spring (~420KM)

29th September 2006, Friday 5-16° C  Heritage $130


Fox Glacier Walk

We joined the Fox Glacier Guided Tour for $65 per person, and we were provided a pair of thick sock and boot.  It was a very tiring 4 hours walk, but it’s all worth the effort, as we had the 1 hour experience of walking on the Glacier.  This Fox Glacier is growing at 1 m a day, but as it melted away at the front, so the overall growth is 20cm.  It’s very interesting to learn and experience about Glacier.  The 1st 1.5hour walk was very tiring and adventurous one, as we had to climb more than 500 steps and walking across cliff, forest, hill, hanging ourselves to the chain, and the path was only 100cm wide, any miss of few cm, we would be down the hill.  Also, there was a danger of big rocks falling from the mountain, so, in certain areas, we were told to walk at least 5 meter apart, so that if there were rocks falling down, we could escape.  After the 1.5 hour walk through the jungle & forest, we arrived at the edge of the glacier, the guide cleared the road as we climbed on the glacier, it’s truly a life-time experience.  The surface of the ice was dusty, but the inner side of the glacier is very blue & pure, just like Ice-Kacang. The red dust on the glacier was from Australia. We were told to put on Crampons – metal hook below our boot, so that when we walked, the hook actually grab on the ice, prevent us from falling.

Long Journey to Hanmer Spring

After a tiring 4 hour walk, we departed Fox Glacier at 1:30pm, and it was a long 6.5 hour journey to Hanmer spring.  The road to the Franz Josef was the most curvy road we ever encountered, and after the 30 mins drive, we saw cars stopped by, and people vomiting. 


After few hours drive, we reach Hokitika at 5pm, and it’s a nice town with many historic buildings.  We visited the famous Glass Blowing Studio and another Fudge Shop, we bought 1 piece of Fudge for $5.90 and some real fruit NZ Ice cream for $3.20 a scoop.  It’s really nice.


Only 30 mins away, this was a big city and very industrialized.  We didn’t stop by any shops and headed on to Reefton.

Lewis’ Pass

Yes, it’s already 7pm, and it’s quite dark, we had to continue our extra 2 hour scary journey before we could reach Hanmer Spring.  As it’s a Pass, we had to go through jungle, hilly roads etc. And along the way, we saw a very bad accident, with a red car crashing to a wall of a hill, but there were many cars stopped by to help, we hoped the driver & passengers were ok. After which, we drove even slower, and always switched on our High Head-light if possible to see any incoming sharp turns.

Hanmer Spring

At last, what an achievement to arrive at the Hanmer Spring at 8pm, we checked in to the best hotel in town – Heritage, and we had  sumptuous dinner at the Heritage Restaurant.  We ordered an Vernison (Deer Meet) & a Prime Roast Beef for both of us.  We enjoyed the dinner, total bill $95, and there is a 25% discount for us.



Day 9 – Hanmer Spring - Christchurch (~150KM)

30th September 2006, Saturday 5-18° C         Quest Apartment $130


Hanmer Spring

Anyone coming to Hanmer Spring was for the natural Hanmer Spring, natural reserve.  We entered the hot pool for $10 per person at 10am, and enjoyed soaking ourself at the 36 – 41 degree Celsius sulfur & other minerals pools.  It’s quite crowded.


Jet Boating – Gorge

It’s just 10mins way from Hanmer Spring; we took the Jet Boating Ride at $95 per person.  It’s worth every $, the Jet Boating ride was so thrilling and nice.  We were traveling in the Jet Boat at such a high speed down streaming along the gorge, with beautiful scenery, and a few stunts did by the guide.  It’s a very nice 45 mins experience.  It is also available at queenstown at $99 for 25mins – ShotoverJet. 


Journey back to Christchurch

It is a short 150KM, but there were many tourist attractions to visit.  We visited a winery, did a wine tasting, also an Olive Oil Farm, to see how olive grew and the process of making the Olive Oil, and the oil tasted very good with bread, so we bought a bottle back.  We also visited some nursery selling fruit trees – Apricot, Walnut, Cherry etc.  Very interesting. 



Yes. We did the last minute shopping at the Souvenirs shops & Grocery Store – Pak & Save.  We bought total $150 worth of grocery – Steak Pies, Chocolate, Biscuits etc. 



We had our delicious dinner at a Japanese & Korean restaurant – MUM 24. They served very nice beef Korean soup for only $12. 



Day 10 – ChristChurchSingapore SQ298 1:55pm

1st Octocber 2006, Sunday 5-20° C    


Day Light Saving

As it’s a First Sunday of the month, there was a day light saving, so we had to turn our time 1 hour forward at 2am à 3am.  That meant we had 1 hour less for today.  Anyway, we were scheduled to fly back to Singapore at 1:55pm.


Willowbank Wild Life Reserve

It’s located nearby Christchurch, but without any signage on the road, it took us 30mins to find this place.  It’s a nice place to visit, we saw many different birds and animals, especially live Kiwi.  They were kept in a dark area, where photography was not allowed.  Kiwis were quite shy animal, as they preferred to stay in the dark, and running around shyly and quickly.


Car Rental

We returned the car to Teddy (Anzac) in one piece, and after traveling for 10 days.  We were set to depart Christchurch with SQ298 at 1:55pm.




It was a very nice & relaxing trip for both of us, we enjoyed the 10 days in this beautiful south island of New Zealand.  It was so adventurous as it’s our first time driving for nearly 3000 KM in 10 days.  The best places we visited are Milford Sound, The Deer Park, Fox Glaciers, and Lake Tekapo. It was simply wonderful & a life-time experience.


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