Prior to our two-week New Zealand trip (May 22-June 2), I had little idea about what kind of adventure we’re gonna be embarking upon. After the numbing cold we experienced in our China trip, my focus before this trip was mostly on how to stay warm. Thankfully, the weather in NZ wasn’t as cold as it was in China back in February (lowest temp was only -3ºC, I think), but it’s good that I came prepared.
Our trip was, once again, planned out by our couple friends: Jeff and Van. I tell you, they can very well start their own travel agency! We booked our flights back in May 2011 (yep, one year in advance!) and, surprisingly, getting our tourist visas was a breeze. The original roundtrip flight was KL-Christchurch-KL. However, about a couple of months before the trip we were contacted by AirAsia that our CHC-KL flight was cancelled and we need to either rebook or refund it. Refunding was not an option since we got the tickets on sale, and if we had to get regular tickets it would cost A LOT. So we took the reroute option. What we thought was a hassle at first was actually a fortunate thing! AirAsia changed our return flight to Sydney-KL so we only had to worry about flying out of New Zealand and we will get the chance to visit the beautiful city of Sydney on our way back. A blessing in disguise indeed!
Since we no longer had to fly home from Christchurch, we had the freedom to plot our itinerary in a way that we will be able to see more of New Zealand than originally planned. The two islands of NZ (North and South) are vastly different that the chance to see both sides is just awesome. Even the locals in the North were telling us that we’ve been to more places in NZ than they have! The North Island, having its own share of beautiful scenic views, is where most people are residing in big cities like Wellington and Auckland; while the South Island is all about the great outdoors, extreme activities, and breathtaking scenery. Below is a rough diagram of the route we took:
The places we stayed overnight in NZ are the following: Christchurch, Queenstown, Franz Josef, Nelson, Wellington, Hamilton, and Auckland. In between those, we also passed by Milford Sound, Te Anau, Wanaka, Haast, Punakaiki, Greymouth, Picton, Matamata, and some little towns in between. You can say that we had a pretty good look around the country.
First Stop: Christchurch
In Christchurch, we stayed one night at this quaint backpackers hostel called Haka Lodge. A fond memory that took place in this city is when we were walking with all our luggage from Point A to Point B, and then a bus driver stopped on the road to call our attention. We didn’t realize at first that he was trying to help us (let’s face it, this kind of thing rarely happens here in the Philippines). Apparently, the walk we were taking was a very long one so the driver thought of bringing us to our destination, free of charge! That was the first of a series of times I thought “Oh wow, Kiwis are so nice!”
It is unfortunate that when people hear Christchurch the first thing that comes to mind is the February 2011 earthquake, which was tagged as the nation’s deadliest disaster. From our very short visit in Christchurch, I can tell the place does seem pretty sad still. There are a lot of houses in the neighborhood but you will see by nighttime that most of the homes have been (probably long) vacated already.
Christchurch, as I learned from the Kiwi locals, is still recuperating until now. The New Zealand Parliament has been allotting more budget to help out this city get back on its feet. I pray it will soon.
Oh yes, I’ve really grown to love their country! <3
Next stop: Queenstown and Milford Sound