I’ve posted some random posts throughout our trip. They were more for fun. This one is more for function. I like to put our trip details on the blog for our own future reference but also because we are frequently asked for info and in case I’m feeling sort of lazy I can just pass along a link to this post. Read on if you will but unless you’re planning a trip to NZ you might not enjoy this post too much. I’ll post some pics too just to keep it a little interesting.
We flew Singapore Air. Great flight. Great crew. Great food. Great service. No complaints at all. Except that we did exhaust all good movies and tv shows between the flight there and back.
Our total trip time was 11 days. Last trip we stayed longer but we stayed in hotels and drove in an SUV. This time we didn’t have as much time to begin with but we drove and stayed in an RV. 11 days was enough of that. Not enough of New Zealand but enough of RV living.
We left on a Friday evening, flew about 10 hours through the night and arrived in Christchurch. We were picked up at the airport by Wilderness Motorhomes and taken to what would be our new home for the 11 days. We were impressed with the company. Not really so much with our particular motorhome. We got the one we got because it fits 6 people and we wanted space, however, it was an older model and was SUPER bouncy and rattley. We also had issues with our heater not working and it was cold. Luckily we were able to buy some heater fans to use at night. It did have a propane heater but the fumes from the propane were awful and I was afraid we wouldn’t wake up in the morning so we froze that first night until we got the heater fans. Anyway, if we do it again, we’ll get a newer model RV and sacrifice a little space if needed but we’d definitely use Wilderness again.
We immediately went to the grocery store and bought necessities like Speights, Pear Cider and Diet coke and milk and water, of course. Toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, and staple foods (bread, butter, peanut butter, fruit, sugar, coffee cream, coffee, hot chocolate, chips, etc.). I loved this part of RV living as opposed to renting a car. We ate out alot but at least we had snacks on hand and we could survive without having to stop. Loved having a built in potty too!
The first night, we stayed in a campground just outside of Christchurch since we were running/walking the Marathon/10k on Sunday morning. The campground was less than impressive since people actually lived there in campers so parts of it seemed a little shady, but it served its purpose and we even got a double rainbow out of the deal.
We pretty much assumed that if we stuck to Top 10 Holiday Parks, we’d have better luck. Those or the Kiwi Holiday Parks. We stayed in a Kiwi park in Wanaka because it was within walking distance to town and Top 10′s in Tekapo, Arrowtown, Queenstown, and Franz Joseph. We stayed in The Hermitage at Mt Cook which we highly recommend. It was a nice break from the RV after two nights and then we stayed at the Airport Delta Motel in Christchurch on our final night in NZ after we turned in the RV. Tommy chose Airport Delta because of it only having two floors, after staying on the 24th floor of the Grand Chancellor during our last trip and it now teetering after the earthquakes, and because they had airport shuttle service. He made a good choice. We would definitely stay there again. Plus it survived all of the previous earthquakes and even a good rumble during our night there.
Here is the listing of places we visited. Clearly we didn’t stay overnight in all of them but we did stop in all of them. Queenstown is the only place we stayed at more than one night. We stayed there for three night. The Holiday Park there gave us a stay 2 nights and get one free deal, which was fine since that was our plan anyway. We spent one whole day of that time driving to Milford Sound, leaving at 4:30 am and getting back to Queenstown about 6pm. Long day but totally worth it. There were other parks to stay in closer to Milford Sound, even one AT Milford Sound but it would have set our schedule off for the rest of our trip so we needed to get back to Queenstown and continue on driving from there the next day.
Mt. Cook (Eat at the Mountain Lodge if it’s open. It was closed for a month this time since the owners went on vacation.)
Cromwell (MUST eat at the Tin Goose Cafe!! We ate there twice and got food for breakfast the next day so we essentially ate there three times.)
Arrowtown (MUST eat at The Willows Restaurant and Bar! Stayed at the Born of Gold Holiday Park. Nice park and easy walk to town.)
Queenstown (MUST eat at the Speights restuarant!! We also enjoyed staying at the Creeksyde Top 10 Holiday Park. Quirky and fun.)
Milford Sound (We did the 2.5 hour Southern Discoveries Cruise. Even cold and overcast, it was still amazing.)
Te Anau (Our favorite $5 Venison Pie joint was closed until September. Oh my, the disappointment!)
Wanaka (One of the most beautiful places we went to but the town itself was not very “traditional” family oriented if you catch my drift. Also, lots of smoking and skateboarding dudes and dudettes (yes, I’m totally stereotyping) but it was a good place to stop. We’re glad we didn’t spend more than one night there.)
Franz Joseph (Stayed at the Rainforest Holiday Park)
Arthur’s Pass (MUST eat at The Wobbly Kea!!!!!)
So it seems that since a few of our favorite places were closed for the winter, running a restaurant might be the business of choice in NZ. Work your tail off for 9 months out of the year and shut down for 3 and go on vacation. Works for me! It didn’t work so well for us this time since a few of our most favorite places were closed but alas, we found replacements without too much difficulty.
We highly recommend renting a car or an RV and touring around New Zealand. I would think it would be easier with young kids to have an RV since you could have snacks and a potty on hand at all times. NZ makes it so easy to navigate. Roads and highways are clearly marked and there are plenty of restaurants and gas stations and beautiful places to stop at along the way. And in an RV, the parks are amazing. NZ is very camper friendly. NZ is just friendly in general.
We feel like October, Spring, was a better time to go. Everything was open and it was still cool and snow was still visible on the mountains. In June, although it’s supposed to be winter and the weather was definitely cool, there was no snow and the weather just wasn’t as good overall and it seemed like alot of business were closed and alot was under construction. Maybe they were getting ready for ski season or maybe things are just slower in the Winter so it’s a good time to get stuff done. I honestly don’t think there is a bad time to go to NZ, though.
I hope we get to go again. If/when we do, we’ll have to explore some new areas. Maybe the North Island or other parts of the South Island that we haven’t been to.
Here is the link from our 2010 trip. New Zealand 2010