Thursday, October 19, 2017

#777 - New Zealand 2017 Travelogue - New Zealand Information / Aoraki Cottage Farmstay I

When I started on this travelogue, I thought of how to organise my New Zealand entries, do I do a Day by Day itinerary style blogging or one or few Place of Interests per entry blogging? It was so hard to decide. I have so many photos!! In the end, I decided it will be a combination of both styles, a detailed recap of what I did in the 2 weeks in this beautiful country.

Allow me to gush about this country in the upcoming entries because it was my first time visiting a country just for its sceneries and it’s not the endless shopping/eating like mad kind of holiday. After this trip, I think I may have found my favourite kind of holiday, that is to visit countries with laid-back country style, accompanied w many breathtaking views. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the 买东西吃东西 trips but sometimes the true/legit kind of holidays are those where you just relax and not rush against time for something, if you know what I mean. I am really bad w expressing myself haha.

Be prepared for longwinded paragraphs ahead, (I try to include what to expect kay, I know there aren’t a lot of travelogues on New Zealand) before I share the pretty photos. Okay so I visited New Zealand during the start of its Spring season last year (4th November – 19th November). Technically speaking, the first and the last days were spent catching flights so we had about 2 weeks of fun.

Weather – The weather was great compared to scorching hot Singapore, ranging from 15-19°C in the day (gets cold only when the wind blows) and drops to 7-11°C at night.

Getting Around – Now the thing about New Zealand is that travelling is usually by cars/campervans (especially so in South Island) and many would rent vehicles to drive around. Syahirah (whom I travelled w) and I couldn’t really drive, plus in New Zealand, you have to drive on the left side of the road, I was not confident w that. Thus throughout the trip, we relied mostly on buses (Intercity is great despite being a little more expensive than others, it has comfortable seats and comes w wifi)! We also managed to find a farmstay that offers driving so we were like score! That solved our travelling problems in South Island. For North Island, we relied mostly on Intercity and coach tours.

Air tickets/Flights – For air tickets, we look at only commercial airlines because they just cost a few hundreds more than budget airlines. With the long flight hours, it makes more sense to “top up” that few hundreds for larger legroom, complimentary check-in baggage and plane food (one of the things I look forward to during flights other than the sky view). We booked our tickets from Qantas in March as they had some promotion and it costs us SGD1047.80 (not too bad) with transit at Sydney Airport. It was an 8 hours flight to Sydney from Singapore, and then another 3 hour and 15mins thereafter from Sydney to Auckland. We then took a domestic flight under Air New Zealand to Christchurch. We covered the South Island before progressing to North Island.
SQ Airlines had some promotion too, with a direct flight to Christchurch at 1.3K if I recall correctly but the timings weren’t suitable for us.

Accommodation – I believe most will spend it in a campervan? I have no experience of that to share sadly. Instead, we spent the first one-third of the trip at a farmstay (more on it later), subsequently we hotel-hopped (I will review the hotels along the way as I share my New Zealand adventures in different locations) and stay in an Airbnb!

With regards to how our itinerary formed, we basically started researching on the places we are interested to visit and made a list as there weren’t many travelogues on this country. We pinned them on the Google map to get a rough gauge of where to go first.

If anyone is interested how much I spent in total for my trip, please wait all the way till my last entry. HAHAH, I will try and do a breakdown of my expenses.


So, let’s get started. I am excited to share too! I will be v v detailed for my own record so my paragraphs may be a little wordy, please scroll down if you are just here for the photos.

We took a night flight and had to transit at Sydney airport. Please please make sure that you have more than 1 hour of transit time lest you miss your flight.

For our case, the SIN-SYD got delayed and we reached Sydney when it was closed to the boarding time for the connecting flight. We were seated all the way at the back of the plane and thus by the time we rushed all the way to clear customs, we were really late. We reached the boarding gate just in time and got scolded by one of the Qantas crew for taking our own sweet time and any later, the flight would have left w/o us. WTF really?

We rushed like mad and I even got a cut on my leg from the escalator okay!! We had no time to argue/scold the guy because we needed to board the plane. DAMN. But that was really bad, Qantas didn’t have any crew to guide those people with connecting flights and make sure everyone board the plane. The other time, when my Cathay Pacific TPE-HKG flight was delayed, there were crew waiting for us at the HKG airport to bring us and ensure we got on our HKG-SIN flight. TSK PLEASE LEARN QANTAS, instead of having staff jumping to conclusion that we were late because we took our own sweet time. _|_

And after we boarded the plane, we saw that there were many others boarding too?! Bitch please. Just because we are Asians is it HAHAHA meh. Anyway our SYD-AKL flight got delayed as well. I remembered v vividly, because I had to pee really badly. But the plane was stuck on the runway for the longest time (45mins)… Oh and to add on to Qantas service, they forgot to serve me food and I had to request for it. The crew even doubted me for a moment “You didn’t get your meal?” WOW slow clapping. But I had the nicest ice-cream bar so all’s good hahahaha.

We had a domestic flight from AKL (Auckland) to CHC (Christchurch) and the boarding time was an hour after the supposed landing time for SYD-AKL. We rushed down the moment we touched down to collect our baggage (yes rushing the whole time) but we couldn’t see any and the clock was ticking away. We had like 20mins left to board our domestic flight and the domestic airport was a 15mins walk away. After a while, our names were paged over the PA system. Turns out our baggage didn’t follow through w us due to the v first flight delay (thank goodness we bought travel insurance)
Again, Qantas what are you doing?? Had to get paperwork done and by then the chances of us getting on the domestic flight was like 10% lol.

So w all these delays, we ran all the way to the domestic airport in minimal hope of catching our flight. We saw the plane still there… but the boarding gates were closed. The Air New Zealand staff was still there though. We checked if we could board, she went in, and after like 10 minutes later, she said we couldn’t! HOW SAD IS THAT TO SEE THE PLANE RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU AND BEING UNABLE TO BOARD.

What an eventful first day! We headed down and repurchased tickets for the next flight, and it cost us SGD317.34*heart bleeding* We got our flight at SGD140 previously okay hahaha. Inside we were just like nevermind we had to pay anyway and the travel insurance claim for the baggage could probably cover it (it did, we got our baggage back after 44hours, every 6 hours = SGD200, so...).

After this whole experience, we got really sick of flights hahaha. We were so happy to touch down and meet our farmstay hosts, Uncle Dave and Auntie Nikki. They had to wait for us for 1 hour plus w 2 other tourists because of the delay. Felt really apologetic but I think they kinda pitied us too because we had no luggage hahaha. By the way, it was super cold/cooling and I felt so happy, like hello we are in New Zealand in the cool weather LOLOL. Sorry Singapore’s really too hot.

Okay end of detailed recap, here’s some in-flight photos of the food, views and a rainbow I caught while we were flying.

 Nicest ice-cream bar mentioned earlier!

 Snacks during Air New Zealand flight!

 Caught a rainbow while in the sky! :)

We were actually really tired post-touchdown but Uncle Dave suggested driving us to some place, I think it’s Victoria Park for night views. It was 5th of November when we reached and that day was Guy Fawkes night. People will set off fireworks! We saw some at the top of the park.

Blurry view because it was freezing cold! We saw some stars too even though it was a little misty.

Here are my lousy attempts at capturing them, w bare hands because tripod was in my baggage…

After some driving, we finally reached the farmstay area! Caught more stars but sad to say that was my last stargazing experience in New Zealand because subsequently we didn’t really hang out late at night – Nevermind I’ll be back!

Cozy room for the next few nights! I had to borrow their daughters’ clothes since I was baggage-less. Thank goodness they have dryer so I could wash my airport outfit and wear them the next day haha.

Anyway this is where I deviate from my itinerary since I am going to share about my stay here and I will include those things that we did in this place itself.

We stay at Aoraki Cottage since we found this place while googling for farmstay online. We liaised w Uncle Dave mostly before our trip and told him the places we are interested in and sort of worked out an itinerary for South Island. They have tours around the farms and ATVs too so we included that in our free days as well. Aoraki Cottage is located at Geraldine.

This was what we see for breakfast every morning. Amazing isn’t it? A far cry from Singapore, where most of our sky is blocked by towering buildings. You can see cows/sheep grazing while enjoying your breakfast!

And hello, this is Billy, one of their cats. Yes ONE OF THEM. There are two. Is it I brave now? Hahaha Billy is a nua cat though, not scary and I slowly grew to it after a day or two.

On our first morning, we spent the day trekking at Kahikatea Track and then rested in the afternoon because we were still getting used to the time difference. It was a short walk but we saw many living organisms hahahaha.

 It was Spring, so we spotted some blooms in someone's garden! This was my first time seeing Sakura!

With Eliza and Yen!

Came back to lunch set up!
One w Aunt Nikki.

Some of the meals we had at while the Farmstay, the rest were eaten outside while on picnics! I had lots of salmon and beef during the farmstay! No complaints! Oh and I have a slice of Marmite toast every morning. My stomach is happy. :’)

We did many activities at the farmstay itself, some days we drove out to lakes and have picnics and visit the places of interest in South Island, some days we stay in and experience farm life as Uncle Dave brought us around his farm. Abrupt end and this entry didn't cover much, but I will be sharing these activities in my next few entries as this entry is getting too long!

Till then, thanks for reading, X

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