Travel Period: 15 – 27 November 2017

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Day 1 – 15 November 2017, Wednesday

Earlier, we flew from Auckland Domestic terminal via Jetstar at 1:55pm.We arrived at 3:45pm in Dunedin Airport Terminal D. Cost for 2 adult NZD148, 20kg bag NZD17, infant is free.

Day 5

Destination: Dunedin – Balclutha – Kaka Point – The Nugget Point Lighthouse.

TOTAL KM: 97.7

3:45pm : Arrived Dunedin Airport

4:30pm : Pick up car rental with Ezi Car rental. We rented Toyota Rav4 for 11 days for MYR2281 + NZD40 for 1 child seat.

5:40pm : First stop was Balclutha town. Stop at subway for dinner. After that continue drive to Kaka Point for about 20km.

Balclutha Town
Balclutha Town

7:00pm : Checked in to guesthouse. We stayed at Mike & Jenny’s Accommodation Kaka Point for NZD100 per night. Continue drive to The Nugget Point lighthouse for about 10km.

7:40pm : We start walk from carpark to the lighthouse. We arrived after half hour (30min) walk. We catch sunset here at The Nuggets Point Lighthouse. This Department of Conservation Wildlife Reserve at Nugget Point has dramatic views of “The Nuggets.” These wave-eroded rocks, which are likened to the shape of gold nuggets, can be seen from the viewing platform at the Nugget Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1869-70, is 9.5 meter high and situated 76 meter above sea level.
Along the way you may see the fur seal colony on the rocks at sea level to the left of the track and also below the lighthouse, or the many seabirds that make The Nuggets their home.

The Nuggets Point
The Nuggets Point

9:00pm : We drive to Roaring Bay to checkout some penguins. Roaring Bay, which is on the road to Nugget Point, is only a short walk (15 minutes one way) from the car park to a bird-viewing hide. Yellow eyed penguins can be seen here as they move from the sea to their nesting places in coastal vegetation. These shy birds are best viewed late in the afternoon when they come ashore after fishing at sea. Yellow eyed penguins (hoiho) are one of the rarest penguins in the world and they are unique to New Zealand and the sub-Antarctic islands.

We only saw 1 penguin from far. There’s a observertary deck for us to observe the penguin. The deck is like a small hut and very limited window size to watch the penguin, but there’s 1 binocular we can use. Unfortunately, we don’t have any picture of penguin because we don’t have tele- lens to shoot long distance object. Below picture was taken at 9.08pm at night. We do enjoy road trip during end spring season which have long daylight hours.

Roaring Bay
Roaring Bay

9:30pm : Drive back to guesthouse, freshen up and making dinner. Rest & sleep.



Day 2 – 16 November 2017, Thursday

Destination: Purakaunui Falls – Florence Hill Lookout – Bluff – Stirling Point – Cathedral Caves – Te Anau


Screenshot 2018-01-08 12.32.19

9:00am : Heading to Owaka for breakfast. Since the cafe here offered very high price, we decided to buy some bread and milk at FourSquare supermarket.

10:15am : Arrived Purakaunui Falls car park. 10 minutes walk from carpark to the waterfall. Here, we spent about more than 1 hour.

The Purakaunui Falls is one of Otago’s iconic, most-photographed sights.

The track through mature beech forest, is suitable for anyone to the top viewing platform. From there the track descends to give the view of the three-tiered falls that’s often seen on calendars and postcards.

Facilities such as carpark, toilets and picnic area are available on site.

11:30am : Heading to Florence Hill Lookout for 20 minute drive.

12:30pm : Arrived at the entrance of Cathedral Caves. Unfortunately, opening hour (low tide time) is at 6pm. Since the low tide time is late evening, we put this on our last visit of the day. Then we decided to come back later at 6pm.

2:00pm : Arrived The Stirling Point near Bluff. Very unfortunate too when the bluff oyster isn’t in season.

3:00pm : Late lunch at local chinese restaurant in Bluff town. We did take away some food for dinner later.

4:00pm : We drive back to Cathedral Caves. We planned to go Curio Bay using the coastal route which is unsealed road for 10km start from Haldane. Another unfortunate event, we were almost reach to Curio Bay but the road was closed. We have to turn back and continue straight to Cathedral Caves.

Situated just off the Southern Scenic Route, Catlins, New Zealand at the northern end of Waipati beach, south of Tautuku.

From the car park at the end of the 2km access road (an old logging road) there is a pleasant 20 minute walk through natural podocarp and kamahi forest, over a metalled track leading down to a 10 minute walk along Waipati beach. At the south end of Waipati beach is Chaslands Head, the historic Catlins site of the shipwreck of The Otago.

Cathedral Caves location map

6:30pm : We reached at the car park. After paying the entrance fee of NZD5 per adult, we quickly walk to the caves. Bush walk to beach is 15 minutes (one-way). Along beach to cave is 10 minutes (one-way). Always check low tide time before the visit. Visiting hour is strictly 2 – 3 hour only.

Access is open two hours before low tide until one hour after low tide. Exceptions – no access before 7.30am or after 8.30pm. Access is checked daily and may be closed at short notice due to weather or sea conditions. Information Centres can be found at Balclutha, Owaka and Waikawa , or official website will usually have the latest information however due to the remote location the most up to date information will be on the notice boards at the Southern Scenic Route entrance to the Caves Car Park. 

Cathedral Caves are a highlight for visitors to The Catlins. Located in cliffs at the northern end of pristine Waipati Beach, they have attracted international interest for their length – the two sea-formed passages together measure just on 200 metres – and their impressive height, up to 30 metres.
Popular for decades, this outstanding natural feature is 15km south of the village of Papatowai and 2km off the highway. From the car park a one-kilometre walking track descends through lush coastal forest to the beach. Visitors cross Maori freehold land, which is managed by a trust.

Fact about The Caves

Over tens of thousands of years, crashing waves have gouged out the caves in a cliff of Jurassic sandstone about 160million years old. The two caves, which have separate entrances 40 metres apart, eventually became joined at the back during the long process of forming them. Because  the transport of beach sand is affected by storms and currents, cave entrances may have rocky pools or sandy floors, depending on the sea’s actions.

In contrast to limestone caves, which are formed from chemical action as well as physical process of water pounding on rock, the Cathedral Caves were created by waves eroding the harder sandstone. Near-vertical fractures  in the sandstone provided weak points for the wave energy to slowly dismantle the sandstone faces. In time the overhanging rocks collapsed, creating caves with cathedral-like formations. – courtesy from official page.

Cathedral Caves map

8:45pm : We started to tracked back to the carpark. This time, I feel a little bit harder to climb up to the cliff. Ascending is lot more tiring than a descending. The night getting dark, I was the last person walking back to the shelter, yes I feel eery walking alone in the forest.

9:30pm : Once arrived at the carpark, the guard was waiting for us to close the gate. Then we quickly leave the place and had dinner in the car while continuing our journey to Te Anau.

1:00am : Reached Te Anau after 3 hours drive with 1 stop at Gore for fueling petrol. We stayed at Te Anau Top 10 Holiday Park, MYR446 per night. The hotel reception was closed but we already informed them that we are late, so he left the note sticked on the reception’s door and the key was in the room. Good job!.


Day 3 – 17 November 2017 , Friday

Destination: Mirror Lake – Milford Sound Cruise – Lake Gunn – Te Anau – Queenstown


Screenshot 2018-01-08 13.13.00

6:45am : Woke up early and enjoy the lake Te Anau with my little girl.

7:30am : Prepare own breakfast.

9:30am : Checkout from the lodge and continue drive to Mirror Lake.

10:30am : Arrived Mirror Lake.

12:00noon : Arrived Milford Sound. We took Milford Sound Cruise nzd50 pp. We booked best deal 12:30pm cruise time with Go Orange! but when we arrived at the jetty, they were not sailing today. They put us at Real Journey Cruise. What a wonderful opportunity they upgraded us to Real Journey Scenic Cruise (normal price NZD76 pp). Cruise duration was 2 hour and we get free picnic lunch box.

12:30pm :  Cruise start.

2:30pm : Cruise finished. We continue driving to Te anau and make few stop along the journey. There are plenty of viewing point and scenery not to be missed.

4:20pm : We stop at Lake Gunn. A small lake between Lake Te Anau and Milford Sound, it lies close to the New Zealand State Highway 94 (the Milford Sound Road) and the Divide of the Southern Alps.

4:55pm : Stop at Mackay creek doc campground for taking pictures of lupins.

7:00pm : Arrived Te Anau for dinner.

11:00pm : Arrived at our lodging in Queenstown after drive more than 2 hours. We stayed for 2 nights here.


Day 4 – 18 November 2017, saturday

Destination: Lake Hayes – Arrowtown – Queenstown – Kawarau Gorge – Cromwell – Queenstown Skyline

TOTAL KM: 158.7

9:00am : We do some laundry and breakfast.

12:00pm : We start our driving trip very late today. First stop was Lake Hayes.

12:40pm : Arrived Arrowtown. Arrowtown is charming and quirky – a delightful gold rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River. You’ll be enchanted by Historic Arrowtown, a New Zealand treasure.

1:30pm : Shotover jet.

2:30pm : Arrived Queenstown for lunch. We had lunch at Erik’s Fish & Chips.

4:00pm : Kawarau Gorge suspended bridge.

4:45pm : Pillars of the king (LOTR).

5:30pm : Jones Family Fruits stall in Cromwell for Tea time & Ice cream. After that, we back to lodging and get changed.

8:00pm : Queenstown Skyline Gondola. Ticket for gondola ride was NZD35 pp, infant is free. We aimed for sunset and night view of Queentown skyline. We had drink at the restaurant while enjoying the sunset.

Skyline Gondola opens 9am daily. Access closes at 9pm for uplift from the bottom terminal. The last departure from the top terminal is when the restaurant closes.

10:00pm : We descending and look for late dinner at Queenstown.

11:30pm : Rest & sleep.


Day 5 – 19 November 2017, Sunday

Day 5 South Island

Destination: Arrow Junction – Cadrona – Wanaka – Lindis Pass – Ahuriri – Twizel – Mt Cook/Aoraki


8:00am : Woke up & prepare breakfast.

Manata Lodge, Queenstown
Manata Lodge, Queenstown

11:00am : Checked out from the guesthouse.

11:17am : Arrow Junction Lookout Point.

12:00noon : Cardrona Bra Fence.

1:00pm : The Wanaka Tree. We had lunch at Snack Shack Turkish Kebabs in Wanaka town.

3:30pm : Wanaka Lavender Farm

4:50pm : Lindis Pass lookout point

Lindis Pass

5:45pm : Ahurihi Campsite Bridge

Ahuriri Bridge Campsite
Lupin at Ahuriri Bridge Campsite

8:00pm : Twizel town stopped for dinner.

10:00pm : We arrived at our stay in Mt Cook village.


Day 6 – 20 November 2017, Monday

Day 6 South Island

Destination: Mt Cook/Aoraki – Hooker Lake – Tasman Lake – Lake Pukaki – Tekapo


TOTAL Time Hiking: Hookey Lake – 4 hours return + 1 hour stop at Hooker Lake. Tasman Lake – 45 min.

Today, our activities are trekking at Hooker Valley to Hooker Lake and Hiking up to Tasman Lake.

8:15am : Woke up & prepare breakfast. We checked out from the lodging at 10:30am.

11:00am : We start trekking at Hooker Valley.

1:00pm : Finally we reached to Hooker Lake after 2 hour trekking with few stops.

2:00pm : We trekked back to carpark.

4:30pm : I climbed up to Tasman Lake alone since my husband & my little girl are tired.

6:25pm : Stop at Lake Pukaki

7:15pm : Checked in to guesthouse in Tekapo.

8:30pm : Explore Tekapo town. Shopping grocery at FourSquare supermarket. Dinner.

10:00pm : Rest.

12:00am : Stargazing at The Church of the Good Shepherd.

4:30am : Sleep

Walk on the plank


Day 7 – 21 November 2017, Tuesday

Day 7 South Island

Destination: Burkes Pass – Fairlie – Geraldine – Staveley – Methven


8:00am : Early morning prepare own breakfast.

10:30am : Checkout guesthouse and went to the lake Tekapo again before heading to next destination.

12:30pm : Stop at Farm Barn Cafe near Fairlie town for tea & snacks. We spent time feed the sheeps.

2:00pm : Stop at Geraldine for some shopping & late lunch.

Best Salmon meal we had in Geraldine town.

5:00pm : Checked in to our B&B at Staveley in late afternoon. The host welcomed us at the front door once we reached to their place. The place called Staveley Heights Bed & Breakfast, rate per night we got from was NZD155 per room. Its very nice room facing the farm. This is one of the finest B&B’s we have ever stayed, the couple who run this place keep it the place very comfortable and clean. Location, views and the measure of comfort is of the highest quality. Unfortunately we only had the one night. Could have easily stayed longer!.

8:00pm : We drove to nearest town, Methven for dinner. We had thai cuisine there.

10:00pm : Rest & sleep

Day 8 – 22 November 2017, Wednesday

Day 12

Destination: Lake Clearwater – Rakaia Gorge – Darfield – Castle Hill – Lake Pearson – Arthur’s Pass – Greymouth


6:00am : Woke up and drive to Lake Clearwater. Journey approximately 45KM from my accommodation. The journey consists 10km gravel road to reach the lake.

7:00am : Reached Lake Clearwater. We spent about an hour here. After that drove back to guesthouse for breakfast at 9:00am.

10:30am : Checked out guesthouse and continue to Rakaia Gorge.

11:15am : Stop at Rakaia Gorge

12:00noon : Bought takeaway lunch and some snacks at FourSquare.

1:45pm : Reached at Castle Hill. The grand limestone rock battlements of Kura Tawhiti led early European travellers to name this unique area Castle Hill. The area is rich in Maori history.

4:00pm : Lake Pearson.

5:00pm : Otira Viaduct Lookout, Arthur’s pass national park.

7:00pm : Greymouth. Shopping at The Warehouse Greymouth and had dinner at KFC.

10:00pm : Arrived at our accommodation at Punakaiki. Rest & sleep.

Day 9 – 23 November 2017, Thursday

Day 13

Destination: Punakaiki – Westport – Hanmer Spring


8:00am : Prepare own breakfast.

10:30am : Reached at Pancake Rocks & Blowholes. This is an all weather walk around the famous Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Looking like giant pancakes the curious limestone formations are especially spectacular at high tide in a westerly sea. The blowholes are at their best around high tide when there is a westerly swell.

3:30pm : Arrived Tauranga Bay Seal Colony. Walk from Tauranga Bay carpark to Tauranga Bay Seal Colony viewpoint (30 min return) overlooking the New Zealand fur seal/kekeno breeding colony. Kekeno can be seen here all year round, numbers changing depending on the season. The busiest time of year is the breeding season from November to January. There are picnic facilities, interpretive displays and public toilets here.

4:15pm : Arrived at Cape Foulwind lighthouse. Walk from the carpark to Lighthouse (15 min return).

7:00pm : Stop at Victoria Forest Park.

7:45pm : Poplars Range near Lewis Pass. Stop when we encountered a rainbow.

9:00pm : Checked in lodging at Hanmer Spring.

10:00pm : Went out for supper & drinks.

3:00am : Stargazing.

5:00am : Rest & sleep.

Day 10 – 24 November 2017, Friday

Day 14

Destination: Hanmer Spring – Kaikoura – Hawarden


10:00am : Checked out from lodging. Walked around Hanmer Spring town and had breakfast at local cafe. I met a malaysian lady who are on WHV.

11:30am : We started our long journey to Kaikoura. There are a number of ways to get to Kaikoura from Hanmer Springs. The most scenic route is via the Inland Road which takes you past the entrance to the ski village of Mount Lyford, or you can take the Leader Road. The Leader Road incorporates coastal and rural farming views which is start from the Waiau Township. On both routes there are plenty of photo opportunities for the avid photographer.

2:10pm : Finally we reached Kaikoura. Kaikoura is a base for wildlife experiences of all kinds – it’s also a great place to eat crayfish/Lobster. So, our first stop was World famous Seafood BBQ. Here, we ordered half of crayfish for NZD52.

3:45pm : We arrived at The Point Sheep Shearing show at 4pm. Ticket price adult was NZD12 and children was NZD5.

4:30pm : We visited Peninsula Seal Colony & Walkway near the Point Kean Viewpoint. Seals laze around on the rocks lapping up all the attention. Give them a wide berth (10m), and never get between them and the sea – they will attack if they feel cornered and can move surprisingly fast. Since the uplift of the coastline during the 2016 earthquake, the seals have moved further from the road and car park, so keep a close eye on tides. The best moment i ever had here i can watch seals very close.

6:00pm : We start driving to Hawarden, our overnight stay place.

8:00pm : After 2 hours drive, we reached to Bentleys Country Stay. Very nice country house. We prepared own dinner and we had a hot bath at Jacuzzi provided by the host. Rest and sleep.

Day 11 – 25 November 2017, Saturday

10:00am : Checked out from the house and heading to Waipara. Made a few stop along the journey.

10:45am : Visited Glenmark Station.

11:15am : Reached Waipara Hills Winery. We had lunch here and visit the winery. Farmland, vineyards and olive groves characterise the Waipara region, which is known for its wine and food – an excellent place to pause for refreshment.

1:00pm : Visited Lavender fields at Waikuku town.

3:00pm : Arrived at our stay in Christchurch. After get changed, we went out for walk at Christchurch town. Places we visited; Christchurch Cathedral Square, New Regent Street, Cashel Street for shopping, Antigua Boatsheds, Christchurch Botanic Garden.

8:30pm : We had dinner at Bloody’s Mary restaurant. Very long wait, suggest to make a reservation first before come. We waited for more than 1 hour for a table.

11:00pm : Rest & sleep.

Day 12 – 26 November 2017, Sunday

Last day in NZ. We went to Burger King for breakfast. Visited their shopping street before heading to airport.

12:00noon : Arrived airport. returned car rental and proceed to AirNZ counter.

    • Flight: AirNewZealand
    • Time: 2:00pm , arrive 3:20pm

3:20pm : Arrived Auckland Airport. Fly back to KL from Auckland Airport.

  • Depart Sun 26 Nov 2017, 2020 hrs (8:20PM)
  • Arrives Mon 27 Nov 2017, 0430 hrs (4:30AM)



Published by Lina Sariff

Travel photographer

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