Tuesday, April 7, 2015

GMGH's Holiday To New Zealand! (with a stopover in Australia)

So last last Thursday (26th April) I went on a pretty long vacation to New Zealand and Australia and I came back just last Sunday (5th March). That's 11 days, but it's more like 9 since I left late Thursday and I spent almost a day just travelling. New Zealand is a lot further away from Singapore than it looks!

The entire trip was spent touring the South island of New Zealand in a campervan and I had a couple hours hanging out in Sydney on my stopover back to Singapore.

Airfare


I don't think I got the best priced tickets out there, but I paid a total of $1166 to get a pair of return tickets from Singapore to Christchurch which I thought were reasonable.

The good news is that I wasn't flying budget, so I didn't have to worry about paying for baggage along any of the legs of my trip. Another good news was that all the airlines I took worked well with each other and I got my baggage checked all the way from Singapore to Christchurch even though both flights were with different carriers. The same for the return journey!

I flew down on British Airways and Air New Zealand, and my return journey was on Quantas (flight sharing with Jetstar) and British Airways again. The flights were all great, though the Jetstar flight had no entertainment to speak of. I just slept the whole way anyway.

Accommodation and Transportation


We actually decided that it would be best to travel around New Zealand in a campervan that would double up as both our lodging as well as transport. So instead of renting a car and also booking accommodation along the way (since our plans might change), we decided that the campervan would not only offer us value in terms of combining our transportation and lodging costs together and bringing it down, but it would also offer us flexibility which has an unknown tangible value. I think the flexibility was well worth it since we could decide to sleep an any of the many campervan sites dotted all over New Zealand, which really made our travelling decisions less stressful.

In total for the 2 nights we stayed in a hotel plus all the nights we stayed in our campervan, the bill per person came up to $680. Most of the camp sites had fees to pay for using their facilities like showers and toilets, so I guess in total that came up to probably about another $85.

That works out to $75 per person per day for transport plus accommodation, which I think is extremely value for money. Nights at a proper lodging doesn't go for anything less than $40 per pax per night and once you include in the vehicle rental, the cost is almost the same, without all the flexibility, convenience and coolness of a campervan!

Sightseeing / Activities

The first leg of the trip is of course exploring the city that we landed in, Christchurch. We walked around the city and we noticed that it was really dead. I never knew that the earthquake back in 2011 was so devastating until a local explained the situation to us. Many of the buildings were unsafe after the earthquake, and although they didn't collapse, they have to be knocked down. There were blocks and blocks of such affected buildings in the city centre, which I think was quite sad because I could totally imagine it to be a hustling and bustling city. It really looked quite... depressing.

However, after we made our way out of the city to tour the rest of the South Island, I must admit that I am a lot more impressed with their natural beauty compared to than urban spaces. Here are photos of what I saw. Of course, all unedited, because I am a photo noob.

Lake Tekapo, the lake surface was like a beautiful mirror!

Hooker Lake Trail at Mt Cook

Hang gliding outside Arrowtown

Hiking up Queenstown Hill or Te Tapunui

Boat cruise at Milford Sound

Camping along Eglinton River

Enjoying the natural scenery and the having a great drive

Skydiving at Lake Wanaka

As requested by B ;)

Hiking to Franz Josef Glacier (and also Fox Glacier)

Skipping rocks and basking in the sun along the beach

Irritating a wild Weka (not a Kiwi) that wanted to poke my face

Being a total tourist and going to the Sydney Opera House

Food and Drinks

What kind of Singaporean would I be if I didn't run around eating food? Unfortunately I am a very bad food photographer because I always eat my food and forget to take photos! I ate all sorts of meats that they had, though I must admit that their variety is very... limited. We saved quite a bit on meals by cooking in the campervan. One of my friend cooks a mean steak! Salt, pepper and steak never tasted so good for the supermarket price that we paid!

Sheep Burger at Burgers and Beer Inc

Deer Burger at Fergburger (also had the classic Fergburger!)

Best pies ever, zomgawd

My Bill

Airfare: $1166
Transport and Accommodation: $765
Hang gliding (w/ media): $289
Skydiving (w/ media): $528
Other activities, food, misc: $600

Total damage: $3348

Ouch. This was actually a very expensive trip that I went on. In fact, it is almost as expensive as all of my previous 3 holidays combined together! Hong Kong, Bali and Beijing/Seoul altogether was $3500!

However, this holiday was really a very unique experience! I am very happy and lucky that I managed to find a few like-minded friends to go on this adventure with me. It is not easy to find 3 other people with the same budget and travel preferences as you. Most people would not enjoy living out of a campervan. I think the lack of internet and a nice toilet is a dealbreaker for most people. Plus, all the extreme activities along with the physical activities? Again, not many people can climb up a mountain and do it again the next day, haha! I'm very thankful I had great friends to travel with.

Although I already knew that this would be a very expensive trip, I decided to do it with my friends anyway because I have doubts that I will be so willing to be adventurous and up for physical activities next time when I am older. I am particularly happy that I went to skydive and hang glide!

Anyway, I guess this will be my last good holiday for a long while. Not only will it be hard for me to find time to run away from work, but this trip really busted my entertainment budget for quite a while. Hopefully I will be able to have a short escape in the later part of the year for a nice beach bum holiday or a winter vacay to Japan, fingers crossed!

5 comments:

  1. Hi GMGH,

    Nice pics!

    And travelling in a camper van seems really interesting!

    Will be considering New Zealand as an alternative to Vancouver for my next long haul trip.

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    Replies
    1. Hi GMGH

      Nice photos and trip there.

      You should have shown us the sky diving adventure and experience, bet many would love to hear.

      Btw where did you go in Australia? I didnt hear you mention anything on Aussie.

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    2. Hey Mr 15HWW,

      Thanks! It was my first trip in a camper van and it was a pretty good experience for me. As long as you have 2 drivers to take shifts and are comfortable with a huge vehicle, should be no problem!


      Hey B,

      Thanks, I've added in a skydiving photo based on your request, haha!

      I was only in Sydney for half a day, all I managed to do was see the Opera House, have a lunch full of weird animals (crocodiles and kangaroos) and experience the insanely expensive public transport in and out of the airport, haha!

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  2. Holiday to New Zealand!! That’s amazing! New Zealand is such an exotic location. But I can’t afford a family trip to New Zealand so I always prefer going on trips in Australia. We always use campervan hire Australia services for the trips.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading this blog post. You seem to have had a great time in New Zealand and have certainly packed a lot into your trip. I bet the 11 days went by so quickly! The Campervan looked like a convenient way to travel. I'm too busy eating to take pictures of food too! Great blog!

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