Pristine Island : South Island of New Zealand (part 2)

After a quick stay, yet memorable, at Queenstown, we went ahead to Milford Sound. We departed early in the morning to catch the afternoon cruise at Milford Sound. The distance between Queenstown and Milford sound is approximately 286 KM. It was estimated that we would be there by at least 5-hours drive by car. The scenery along from Queenstown to Milford Sound is very beautiful. Sturdy mountains and scattering lakes are the natural ornaments all along the route. In between the driving, we stopped by to the nearest city to the Milford Sound, Te Anau.

Te Anau was a small city where we booked a homestay for a night. We decided to stay at Te Anau because of limited accommodation choice at Milford Sound. Milford Sound is an option of a quick visit only and not for staying. Understandably, not many lodging options there. According to the Lonely Planet, there is only one available lodging. And surely it’s not an option for us. We had an issue once doing the check in at the homestay. I just knew when I arrived that the homestay did not accomodate children under 10. And it became a problem to us as we had to find another lodging.  Te Anau is a very small city and we were afraid that we couldn’t find any available hotel, homestay or room to stay. Therefore, we hopped from one hotel to other hotels, one homestay to other homestays. Good luck was on our side. There was a vacant room in a modest-beautiful homestay run by a carpenter. So, we paid the rent fee at advance before continuing our driving to Te Anau.

According to Lonely Planet the scenery along the route to Milford Sound is the wildest, most magnifique, the most natural of all spots in the South Island, and probably in all over New Zealand. Been warned like that, we became very enthusiastic. While driving to Milford Sound, we opened the car windows and let the wind blew in. Fresh!!  Once heading to Milford Sound from Te Anau, one by one, the wildest beauty that we’re told before were there before our eyes. Large havana, creeks,  sturdy trees, beautiful valley, river flew across the street that we passed, and the most magnificent one was the the scenery of waterfalls. Not only one but a lot of waterfall. They flow down from the cliff along the road to Milford Sound. It’s very beautiful. The source of waterfall is from the snow toppling over the cliff. The snow melts and plunges down as waterfall. We stopped in one of photo shoot points. The chilling wind caught us right away when we stepped down from car. Rain made the weather even colder and wet.

Our road path to Milford Sound got descending as it was a river heading to the sea. Once got there, we exchanged the tickets in the counter. Days before, we bought ticket online in an cruise operator. My suggestion: buy the cruise ticket online because you will get the discounted price. There are a lot of cruise operators in Milford Sound and almost all sell the ticket via web. Simply google them to compare the best price. After waiting for several minutes, our cruise came from the previous trip. We boarded in a quite big cruise which would take us to enjoy the river. Rain kept pouring down all day. Understandably, it said recorded  as one of the wettest area in the world. Sun was hardly seen. The scenery offered along the river was beautiful. Waterfalls fell down from the highest peak of the cliff. The fog made our journey mysterious. The chilling wind continued blowing and passengers who wanted to get warm can get into ship and make coffee and tea for free. The journey back and forth the river was approximately 90 minutes. Our camera shutter didn’t stop working as many breathtaking views to capture.

After enjoying Milford Sound, we stayed at Te Anau for a night. In the morning after that day we departed to Dunedin. It took about 4,5 hours drive to Dunedin from Te Anau. Dunedin is well know as City of Student where University of Otago located. It is one of the best universities in New Zealand. I knew why students prefer Dunedin to other cities. It is simply because it has a  well-known university and  friendly environment. It is a small city with complete supporting facilities. And everything is relatively cheap there. Our first destination at Dunedin was Cadbury Museum. Cadbury is undoubtedly known as popular chocolate brand. In Dunedin, they have established plant since 1800 and they have a long history. In the museum, we were accompanied by a very warm guide who comprehensively elaborated the history of Cadbury and its development since the very beginning to the current. Each of visitor got free chocolate and candy for free. Yumm!! Of course, we could also buy chocolate and Cadbury related merchandises there. Having been indulged by delicious chocolate in Cadbury, we headed to the Dunedin Railway Station. Still according to Lonely Planet, this is the most photographed railway station in the world.

Otago peninsula is another lovely site in Dunedin that has many views to offer. First is Larnach Castle. Larnach Castle has fantastic garden and a spot where you can see Otago Peninsula from top. The castle was surrounded by native rainforest plants. They have a small cafe where visitors can sit and enjoy the scenic view while sipping the tea.

If you are interested to watch Pinguin in their native habitat, then you have to go to  to Sandfly Bay in Otago Peninsula where Yellow-eyed Pinguin have their colonies. The best time to catch the Pinguin is before dusk. The local authority provides a shelter for visitor to view the Pinguin colony heading back to their nestle from the sea. By viewing them from behind the shelter, we can see them clearly without obvious interruption. Pinguin is a sensitive and shy animal. Human presence can make them uncomfortable.

It was already 8 PM once we finished watching the Pinguin. However the sun was still shining as in the summer sun usually sets in 9 PM. Feeling hungry we rushed in to Plato, a restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet. Unfortunately, all main course are sold out and only dessert left. We chose Rhubab, a sweet delicacy from Turkey and a Coconut cake. All were nice. Once at hotel, we ate bread and everything we had.

In the next day, we went to Scribe  which is said as the largest second hand book in world by Lonely Planet. I could smell the old and vintage books once getting in. The tall shelves and tables were full of books. Amazing. Scribes has complete collections and I bought some books there with half of price surely. Baldwin Street is another interesting and as for me a must-visit site. It is recorded as the steepest street in the world by the Guinness World of Record. If you have a chance to visit the city center, please do come. Enjoy the museum and cafes around the octagon-shaped public space where wi-fi is free.

Our last day at New Zealand was spent at Christchurch. In a day before, we drove to Christchurch from Dunedin. The trip by car was approximately 5 hours. On the trip, we stopped by at the Mouraki Boulder. It is a collection of large spherical boulders in the beach. The boulders are scattered along the beach. We also bought some souvenirs there.

Christchurch. Our last day at New Zealand. It was memorable as we didn’t realize that the windshield of the GPS was missing. Once returning the car to the rent operator, they told us to find it otherwise we had to compensate the lost. And it was expensive. Hurriedly, we went back to hotel and found out the shield already dumped in the bin. Thank God the office boy was very helpful to assist us finding it. 8 day, 9 nights. We’re content and ready to fly to Melbourne.

 

 

The Pristine Land: South Island of NZ (part 1)

New Zealand! Finally, I made it. It is one of my wish destinations and now I could write it off from my list.

It was wet because of raining when we arrived at Christchurch, the biggest city in the South Island of New Zealand. The song from ABBA, I Do, was played by the driver of the Super Shuttle, the service that would take us to the lodging. It made a more melancholic day.

We stayed two days and a half  in Christchurch. Actually not many things to see in this city especially after the massive earthquake last year. The city center, where the old cathedral is located was ruined. The restoration was still on going when we were there. City tram, one of the city attractions doesn’t operate because the path is also not working.

On the first day, we couldn’t see many things because we arrived in the late noon. The activities we did were having dinner and doing the groceries. The next day, we walked down to the botanical garden. It was very large garden with quite complete collection. You could take the tour such as punting the avon by which you will be taken to the small boat and do tour on the small-shallow river surrounding the garden. There is a guide who will punt for you. All you have to do is just sit back and relax.

Next to the botanical garden is the Canterburry Museum. In this museum, you will find a story about Maori people, the native people of New Zealand. Besides, the museum also provides information on the south polar exploration carried out by scientist. New Zealand is one of the nearest country to the South Polar. Understandably, the information provided is relatively comprehensive. No admission fee in this museum however you are encouraged to give voluntarily donation for the maintenance program.

To get informed about the city and the surrounding, we took the city tour by the bus. The tour took about 1,5 hours. You can buy the ticket in the i-site, an official tourism information of New Zealand which are located in the strategic places around NZ. As for us, we bought the ticket in the i-site located in the botanical garden. The bus is typically tour bus with double deck. We sat on the top-less second deck in order to capture as many as possible views along the tour.

It was summer when we were there however the chilling wind concealed the hot of the sun. That was called summer breeze. After completing the tour, we went to the car rental nearby the airport. We did the reservation about one month before. The car we chose was Nissan Travella, a very convenient sedan that could accomodate up to 5 persons. The rent fee was 47 NZD per day. NZ strictly requires a baby or toddler or children to sit in the special car seat. So, car renter will ‘force’ you to rent the baby/toddler car seat if you bring a long minors.

On the third day we headed to Mount Cook. It is one of the highest mountains in the Australia-Oceania. Even in the summer, the cap of the mount is covered by snow. Exciting as it would be our mountainous experience with snow. Before arriving to the Mount Cook, we would be spoiled by beautiful scenery in Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki. It was very breath-taking view we saw there. Understandably Peter Jackson chose this area as the setting of Lord of the Ring. The turquoise water was very calm. And because we came in summer, there were a lot of beautiful wild flowers in near lakes. Scenic!

Mount Cook or famously known as Aoraki/Mount Cook  National Park lies in the Southern Alps, the mountain range that lies along the length of South Island. Our ultimate destination was Tasman Glacier. However, there are many sites that you can visit for example Sir Edmund Hillary Center where visitors can find various information about the mount. The center also plays 4D movie that family can go together.

To reach the Tasman Glacier, we should go to the starting point from the lodge by vehicle. It will take 45 minute return walking. The path is relatively steep but since it is nicely built up, visitors can easily go up to the viewing point. The Tasman Glacier is gradually melting due to the global warming. When we were up there, we could see that some part of the glacier melted and the water flew to Lake Pukaki. Should the global warming persists, it is plausible the glacier will disappear any soon.

After Mount Cook, we headed to Queenstown. Queenstown is a very small city that reminds me of Kuta Bali. It is packed with bungalows, hotels, cafes, restaurants and of course tourists. It locations is by a beautiful lake, Wanaka. Because the lake is very near, some locations of Queenstown resemble beach by the sea. In Queenstown you can find some places to go to do bungee jumping, which unfortunately we didnt do as we had a toddler going with us. So, what we did? As we only stay for one night, we walked to the city center to enjoy the scenery. As I told you before that Queenstown is very small city that we could do the city walk not more than one hour. We also dropped by at the Cow, a famous restaurant that sells the best pizza int town. Cow was located at Cow Lane. It is the “our pick” in the Lonely Planet then we went there. We met our anticipation as the pizza was soooo delicious. The garlic bread was served wholly with warm garlic butter to spread above the bread. Everything was so delicious and we were very content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After full with seafood pizza and garlic bread, we went to souvenir shops around. There were many choices of souvenirs shops in the center of city. I bought somes for my relatives and friend in Indonesia. Another thing one should not miss while in Queenstown is stopping by to Fergburger. It’s located in 42 Shootover St. They served the best burger in town and it was not boastful. A lot of burger’s menus you can choose and all of them are awesome.

Unfortunately we only stay one night at Queenstown so we can not really enjoy all sceneries in the city. The day after we arrived, we had to drove to Milford Sound. I will elaborate the beauty of Milford Sound in the next post. Enough for now!