New Zealand

New Zealand, Travel

Budget New Zealand Itinerary – How To Do A 8-Day Campervan Road Trip In South Island For NZD900


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Campervan-ing  is one of the best ways to explore New Zealand, especially the South Island where there are so much to be seen and experienced. We ventured down south in the middle of the winter season for an epic experience. Armed with 8 days and 7 nights, it was crucial to map out a route that maximises the decision to rent a certified self-contained campervan. There are many spots away from the cities that allows freedom camping. Kindly note that freedom camping is only for certified self-contained vehicles (having bathroom and toilet facilities on board). You will and might get a ticket for parking a non-certified vehicle at a freedom camping site.

If you want an Airbnb experience along the way, it is also feasible. For first time users of Airbnb, you can click on my link to get NZD45 credit to be used in your future bookings, more if you start hosting (I get NZD45 if you sign up via this link too).

Campervan Rental

After months of research on the best campervan rental companies, Britz seemed to be the best in terms of price and quality. Their vans are relatively new and had the best reviews. We chose the Venturer plus 2+1 (typically for a couple with a kid) over the Venturer because of the diesel heating capability while the engine is off. This is really important in winter because we would have been miserable in the cold without a powered site. It was a Mercedes Sprinter that runs on diesel which is great because it is more efficient and cheaper than petrol. But in New Zealand, there is a road recovery surcharge which is at NZD6+ for every 100km travelled. We decided to go for the Liability Reduction Option at NZD40 a day, otherwise there would be a NZD7500 charged to the credit card and refunded after rental if all is good. I figured out that there would be twice exchange rate losses if we were to choose the latter because I was using a Singapore-issued credit card.

Later on in the journey, we got a cracked windscreen which could have cost thousands and up. This is another perfect illustration of how important insurance is to protect your wallet. The majority of parking spots in South Island are free except in parts of cities at the time of writing. However, there are even free parking spots in Queenstown if you do your due diligence. For example, we parked up to 5 hours for free at a holiday park. This was by buying our Queenstown gondola tickets through them at no additional cost.

  • Rental cost for 8 days (Christchurch to Queenstown): NZD479
  • Total liability reduction option: NZD360 (40 per day)
  • Diesel expenses: NZD151.86
  • LPG top up: NZD15.33
  • Road recover surcharge for 1300km travelled: NZD81.60
  • Powered sites for 4 nights: NZD146
  • Total cost: NZD1233.79, comes to about NZD77.19 a day for each person

Literally woke up to this on the first night, freedom camping at its best.

Food

One of the main determinants of your overall expenditure is food, we cooked majority of our meals since we went with a luxurious campervan option. Our Britz Venturer plus came with full cooking capabilities; stove, microwave and a barbecue pit. Eating out is expensive in New Zealand, but cheaper than the US, UK and even Singapore. In the US, you tip an additional 10-20% depending on the service. While in the UK, there is a discretionary service charge of 12.5% is added to the bill. A ridiculous 10% service charge and a 7% Good and Services Tax is on top of the bill in Singapore. Yet in New Zealand, you pay for whatever that is on the menu, nett and loving it. Pak’nSave is one of the cheaper supermarkets around, however certain items are cheaper at other outlets. Avoid buying certain seasonal fruits or vegetables. I bought a cucumber for a hefty price tag of NZD5, never again just to make Pokebowls in winter.

Groceries for 8 days: NZD157.50

Eating out at restaurants for 2 meals: NZD84.90

Total cost: NZD242.40, comes to about NZD15.15 a day for each person

Miscellaneous

Another big portion of your expenditure comes from the activities, especially in Queenstown –  the adventure capital of the world. We are not adrenaline junkies and managed to save quite a bit here. For data plans, try to get the roaming data plan from country of origin because it works out cheaper for me. It varies between countries so there is some research work to be done.

Queenstown Gondola with 2 luge rides for 2: NZD98

Onsen Hot Baths for 2: NZD96

Ziptrek Queenstown for 2: NZD378 (sponsored)

Milford Sound cruise for 2: NZD180 (sponsored)

Total cost: NZD194, this amount totally varies according to individuals.

Overall, be prepared to spend about NZD110 a day if you are following my way of travel and budgeting. This excludes the price of air ticket to get to New Zealand and travel insurance. For such a fantastic experience (though it was bitter cold at some point) and the trip of a lifetime, it is definitely worth it.

Ziptrek Queenstown, located at the top of the gondola.

Magnificent view of Queenstown from the top of the gondola

The Route

There are so much to be seen in the South Island so we mapped out a couple of checkpoints along our Christchurch to Queenstown route. We covered about 1300km in the end due to some of the detours we made along the way. Always check for driving conditions updates, especially in winter. There were snow blizzards and road closures in the last few days of the road trip but it did not affect us too much. It is good to allow the itinerary for some slack days and travel delays. Read about my itinerary here.

Sunrise shot taken from the campervan rear windows

Duck paradise shortly after

Experience Lake Tekapo in winter, beware of black ice on pavements.

Or get really up close to the scenes in Game of Thrones, winter is definitely here in Mount Cook.

Renting a campervan comes with hands on session for sure

Can’t complain about how affordable diesel vehicles are

And you get to see postcard looking scenes

Time to plan a trip to New Zealand soon! I would recommend shoulder seasons to avoid the crowds in summer and cold in winter.

New Zealand, Photography, Travel

See To Believe – The Beauty Of Driving From Queenstown to Milford Sound


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Milford Sound which is named by some as the 8th Wonder of The World , is one destination to put on your checklist when visiting New Zealand. To enjoy the beauty of it, it is highly recommended to take the cruise which departs from the ferry terminal. There are a couple of operators and they do have different itineraries to suit various preferences. I went on a fantastic experience with Cruise Milford which truly showcased the beauty of Milford Sound.

The question is how to make your way to Milford Sound if you are not on a helicopter tour. It is about 4 hours drive (one-way) away from adventure capital of the world, Queenstown. That means a whopping of 8 hours drive alone, especially straining if there is just one driver. Fret not, because the journey from Queenstown to Milford Sound is as breathtaking as the destination. Check out some of the useful information about the drive to Milford Sound from Cruise Milford. Road condition changes quickly, it is always a good practise to check it regularly if you are driving in winter because roads do get closed due to heavy snowfall. One good place to check is New Zealand Transport Agency. Milford Sound has about 200 days of rain in a year, do not be put off by the rain because there are much more waterfalls to be seen.

A quick trip to Milford sound can be done in a day, either through a coach or self-drive. A return coach trip costs about NZD80 which usually comes with a packed lunch and a humorous guide, it varies among different operators. But that being said, you will miss all the gorgeous pit-stop places along the way. I suggest a 2-3 day journey with a night stop at Te Anau. It is a beautiful town that lies at the border of Fiordland National Park and also the start of Milford Road (SH94 to Milford Sound). The Te Anau glowworm caves are also located here. We spent two nights here, with the day in between driving to and fro Milford Sound. We got a hooked up site at Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park completed with wi-fi and excellent facilities, it was a steal. Initially, we chose it because of the 40% promotion on Britz app which costs NZD28 for a night. We were literally the only campervan on the 2nd night, probably due to the snow storm warnings and hence trips from Queenstown were affected.

SH 6, shortly after leaving Queenstown

On route to Te Anau after a night of freedom camping in Queenstown

Take an evening troll around the waters in Te Anau and watch the sun goes down.

Milford Road is extremely scenic, one of my favourite is definitely the Eglinton Valley.

The scenery changed as we got closer to Milford Sound.

Plenty of photos opportunity while waiting for the Homer Tunnel traffic. The road was closed since the night before due to snowfall.

A Kea came to check us out during the wait. It is the world’s only alpine parrot, a very smart and curious creature.

There are no vehicles parking at the ferry terminal, the parking is located about 10 mins away and enjoy the stroll to the terminal. The guy at the booth told us that given the passengers load for our timing, it was perfect for moving around the decks.

Cruise Milford is at berth 3, subjected to changes though. 

The sky literally cleared for us when we were about to set off, truly blessed.

We got this private area to ourselves, the upper deck is definitely better for the views. Coffee/Tea and cookies were provided in the lower deck for guests.

The Captain announced that he was bringing the cruise under the falls and anyone could try to go under it.

This dude was prepared for it, head to toe in Gore-Tex.

Imagine the views out there

Caught some seals camouflaged on the rocks.

A rainbow awaited us on the way back, couldn’t get any prettier isn’t it?

Enough of the beauty, time for a long drive back to Te Anau

Woke up the next morning in Te Anau with fresh snow all over

Thanks to Cruise Milford for the wonderful Milford Sound experience!

 

 

New Zealand, Travel

So I Got My Working Holiday Visa For New Zealand


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Five months from now, I will be moving to New Zealand. Excited? Scared? Probably a little bit of every known feelings. It will be one thing off my travel list. I am delighted that I am heading to New Zealand this summer, winter in New Zealand since it is located in the Southern Hemisphere.

P1030574How often do you sit down and watch the sunset?

So what is exciting about New Zealand, any search on Google will reveal that New Zealand is one of the top backpacking destinations. The working holiday visas to New Zealand are becoming popular all over the world, there are better well-known ones claiming top spots such as USA, Canada and Australia. So why should you go on a working holiday to New Zealand. Here’s five reasons from me.

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