This is indeed a long overdue trip for me. Why is it so? This is because New Zealand was the country that I went for my honeymoon 27 years ago and also the first time in my life travelling on an aeroplane. Thus, it holds special meaning to me and certainly life-changing for me in shaping me to where I am today.
I was supposed to go back to New Zealand during my 10 year anniversary, but it didn’t happen and kept pushing back the thought every 5 years since then, but it still didn’t get to materialise. I told myself I had to make it happen for my silver anniversary, which I did spend time planning for it. Man proposes, heaven disposes (人算不如天算), who knows Covid-19 came and my plan was thwarted once again. 😆
Well, I am glad that the earlier regret can now be makeup. Yay! This trip will focus mainly on South Island and (who knows) I may plan another trip to North Island next year. 🙂
Having said that, all dreams can only come true after passing through the departure gate at the airport. 😀
My favourite part of every departure trip.
Enjoying a sumptuous meal at SiverKris Lounge prior to boarding.
Christchurch, here I come! See you in 10 hours’ time.
Start of sky dining dinner…….
New potato, pickled red onion, hard boiled egg, black olive and dijon herb dressing.
Seabass in a tamarind-turmeric gravy, chilli prawns and prawn cracker served with coconut flavoured rice. Specially designed by acclaimed Singaporean chef- Shermay Lee
Time for breakfast prior to arrival.
Sliced fresh fruits with yoghurt and croissant.
A combination of yellow noodles and rice vermicelli, immersed in flavourful prawn and pork broth. Accompanied with fresh red leg prawns and bean sprouts. A crowd favourite among Singaporeans.
Safe arrival into Christchurch Airport.
Heading off to the waiting area for the courtesy shuttle pick up to Omega Car Rental for my car pick up.
The car rental company is about 10 mins drive away from the airport.
I got myself a Toyota Vitz for this 9 days road trip.
There was news on Queenstown Flood alert on 22 Sep 2023 and it triggers state of emergency in Queenstown to urge residents to evacuate, and it also leads to closure of state highway 6 between Haast and Lake Hawea resulting in me having to make last minute cancellation for my visit to Queenstown and Lake Tekapo.
This literally caught me with my pants down in having to scout for alternative places to stay from 25 Sep to 29 Sep 2023 (just to be on the safe side) where I was supposedly to be spending 3 nights over at Queenstown and 1 night in Lake Tekapo.
Well, this is what travels entail where the Act of God cannot be predicted. 人算不如天算. 🤣
Amidst all the anxiety, I am thankful that I am able to drive from Christchurch to Greymouth via Arthur’s Pass where the highway closure since yesterday until 11am this morning which means I do not have to detour via a longer route which will set me back easily by another 3 hours. 😱
Wow, I love the beautiful panoramic view of the Southern Alps drive from Christchurch to Greymouth. You will be greeted with scenes of dramatic mountains, gorges and river valleys across the Canterbury Plain.
You will get to see many sheeps and lambs along the scenic route.
Not forgetting the cows! They could be used for our Black Augus Steak. 😉
This journey will take you through Arthur’s Pass, the highest and most well-known of New Zealand’s mountain passes characterised by deep gorges, wide riverbeds and scree slopes.
Look at the instant change of climate from the green plain to the snowy sight.
Cruising past Arthur’s Pass.
Taking a pit stop at Arthur’s Pass Store before continuing with my journey to Greymouth.
Made my way to Greymouth at long last after driving distance of 236km.
This will be my abode for tonight.
The room is big and spacious. I love it!
Picturesque view taken from my hotel room balcony.
Went over to Mawhera Quay which is right across the hotel that I am staying.
Thereafter, went over to New World Supermarket for some grocery shopping.
Followed by dinner at Domino’s.
Mini BBQ Meatlovers Pizza with crispy chips and southern fried chicken bites. Oh mine, this is so good! 👍👍👍
With that, it brings Day 1 to an end.
Starting Day 2 with a quick breakfast bite at Subway.
Followed by more grocery shopping at Countdown Supermarket.
If you happen to take a scenic train ride from Christchurch, you will arrive at Greymouth Train Station.
While enroute to Franz Josef, make a detour to West Coast Treetop Walk & Café for a snack break.
A nice cozy café to chill amid the beautiful countryside landscape.
While continuing on with the journey, happen to chance upon this huge herd of cows. Couldn’t help but pull over for a quick photo spot! 🤣
Feels great just by looking at them grazing happily with their given feeds.
Arriving into Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier for my check-in. I love this small quainty township. Life is carefree here (generally in New Zealand) and great for relaxation.
This hotel has a two-floor layout and my room is conveniently located on the first floor and I can access my room easily from the car park.
A nice big, beautiful and spacious room awaits.
Scenic view from Scenic Hotel. ☺️
After check-in, venturing off to Lake Matheson walking trail.
Lake Matheson is one of the most photographed lakes in New Zealand because of its mirror reflection of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman.
The walk will start with the crossing of the suspension bridge.
It is an easy 2.6 km on a very good track, which takes about 1.5 hours to go around the whole lake.
It’s a relatively great short walk if you can spare the time for it.
Lake Matheson has long lured the crowds, hopeful of witnessing a mirror reflection of the Southern Alps in its dark still waters. Isn’t this beautiful?
Can you spot a spooky face from the photo?
Wow, look what I see! Isn’t it awesome?
Since the sun will set later at 7.30pm, I decided to move off next to Franz Josef Glacier.
A short 30-minute return walk to a viewpoint of the glacier terminal point will get you to this stunning view.
You will also get to see this long waterfall right beside the glacier lookout, too.
Hope you enjoy the live stunning view!
Another short twenty-minute short return walk with a steady climb for views of the glacier.
With a good workout, it’s time to return to the hotel and prepare for dinner at Alice May Restaurant & Bar.
Slow cook until tender in red onion, house beer and raisins. Served with pumpkin and potato mash, rich gravy and seasonal vegetables.
Medium rare Ribeye fillet served with French fries, seasonal vegetables and mushroom & bacon sauce.
This is my first decent proper meal since I arrived. Holy Cow and Holy Lamb, the meats are extremely tender! Die die also must eat since I am in the land of the cows and lambs.
It’s definitely a deserving and satisfying meal to end Day 2.
Powering up with a good brekkie at Full of Beans Café & Coffee Company.
Sunny side up eggs served with bacon, sausages, hash browns, mushrooms, grilled tomato and toast.
Downing it with a hot cup of flat white couldn’t be more than ideal on a cold morning at 4 degrees. 😋
After a satisfying breakfast, I made my way to Hokitika.
Stop over at Lake Lanthe Recreation Area for a nature call break and to freshen up at the same time after a long drive.
Loved the calm lake view. Continuing the journey to Lake Mahinapua next.
Lake Mahinapua is a scenic reserve that offers opportunities for camping, picnicking, walking, and water-based activities. Doesn’t the backdrop resemble that of Fuji-san?
Next up, made a visit to Dorothy Falls.
This beautiful and secluded waterfall is near Hokitika on the West Coast.
Went over to Hokitika Gorge Walk next. Hokitika Gorge and the surrounding Hokitika Gorge Scenic Reserve are a major tourist destinations.
You will be able to enjoy a walk through the native bush to the stunning Hokitika Gorge.
Stunning view of the Hokitika Gorge from the viewing platform.
Since August 2020, a second suspension bridge over the Hokitika River at the gorge provides the opportunity for a round track.
More amazingly beautiful views of the Hokitika Gorge. Don’t you think it resembles the Blue Pond in Hokkaido?
Check-in to Beachfront Hotel Hokitika for the night.
Another lovely hotel. So far, all the room experience has been great. 🙏
Grabbing a quick fix at Stone Oven Bakery & Café which is steps away from the hotel.
Spending the rest of the afternoon exploring the township while waiting to catch a nice sunset at Hokitika Beach.
The beach access area is right beside the hotel.
You can find Hokitika’s famous driftwood sign at the beach area created by the owner, Don Neale who still keeps a close eye on one of the coast’s most famous photo spot.
Waiting patiently to await for the sun to set in order to capture a picturesque lovely panoramic view.
Oh my! Isn’t this magnificent? It’s definitely worth the wait!
Enjoy watching the works of nature.
Settle for dinner at Ocean View Restaurant & Bar at the hotel as all restaurants are closed for the day.
Classic seafood chowder served with a warm roll & butter.
Lamb rump marinated in Middle Eastern spiced yoghurt, almond-crusted lamb rack with mash potatoes, baby vegetables, onion jam & rosemary jus.
Certainly yet another fulfilling meal to bring an end to Day 3.
Beginning Day 4 morning with a nice tummy warming at Clock Tower Café.
I will be leaving Hokitika for Ashburton this morning passing through Arthur’s Pass. It was a blessing in disguise afterall and I am sure everything happened for a reason. 3 days ago, I drove past Castle Hill and the entire area was covered with snow. Now, I am able to capture a beautiful clear view of it. 😊
This iconic setting was used as the backdrop for a battle in the movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. This area is known as one of the world’s best bouldering locations, and climbers flock here to challenge their skills.
Made a brief stop at Darfield Bakery & Café for a quick recharge. Darfield is the main town between Christchurch and West Coast.
Did another round of grocery shopping at Four Square Supermarket. Simply just couldn’t resist stepping in. 🤣
Arriving into Hotel Ashburton (my abode for tonight) at long last. 🙏😅🙏
Loved the spacious room as well. 👍
After check-in, wandered off to Ashford Village.
This place is a collection of boutique retailers and café surrounding the historic Mill House at the home of Ashford Wheels & Looms.
Caught hold of Burger King and decided to jump in for a quick bite.
Trying out their new Bacon Mayo Burger super value meal that comes with small fries and small drink with added on nuggets.
Followed by spending the evening time at K Mart (similar to our Tampines Giant).
Finishing off the night with a nice meal at the hotel Clearwater Restaurant.
Creamy parsley mash, confit carrots, charred onion, broccolini & morello cherry jus.
Accompanied with garden salad, chips & chunky tartare and lemon.
The amount of potatoes that I have had so far can easily exceed my whole year quota. Having said that, their potatoes, be it in the form of mash, fries, or chips, they are just so good. Needless to say, their lamb is really power!
Starting Day 5 morning with KFC.
Their chicken meat is really super tenderly good unlike back home.
Thereafter, proceeded on to Timaru for a day trip.
While enroute to Timaru, came across Coupland’s Bakeries and decided to detour and make a brief stopover.
Here are the loots from the stopover.
Made the first visit to Scared Heart Basilica.
The Sacred Heart Basilica or Timaru Basilica, is a Catholic church in Timaru, New Zealand. Despite its name, it is not designated a basilica by the Catholic Church. It was designed by the New Zealand architect, Francis Petre and is one of his most celebrated works.
The Basilica’s twin towers and copper cupola are highly visible features of the Timaru skyline, especially from the south.
Loved the beautifully decorated interior of the church. Glad that I made this visit.
Followed by lunch at Saikou Timaru, a premium Asian fusion cuisine in a busy vibrant bar.
Also, you can overlook Caroline Bay from the restaurant.
Black pepper crust, chiffonade onion and ponzu.
Chicken with stir-fried egg noodles with Asian vegetables and umami Japanese sauce.
After a good meal, ventured off to the nearby Caroline Bay.
Passing by Rose Garden, the garden was established to preserve and honour the collection of old roses gathered over a lifetime by the celebrated rosarian Trevor Griffiths.
The Face of Peace right beside the Rose Garden.
A short walk from Rose Garden will lead you to the Caroline Bay.
Caroline Bay beach is a popular recreational area close to Timaru’s main centre and has been considered the jewel in Timaru’s crown since the early 1900s.
Time to head back to Geraldine for my accommodation stay at Black On Grey Motel.
This will be my place of stay for the next 2 nights before heading back to Christchurch.
The room is equally big, spacious, and clean. Finally I had the chance to experience living in the countryside.
Visited Geraldine Cheese Factory, which they have won countless awards and deserve their reputation as giants of the artisan cheese industry in Aotearoa. Their production techniques and their innovation are second to none.
Hopping over to Barker’s Foodstore & Eatery which is right across the cheese factory.
It is a casual café & retail outlet offering inventive daytime eats in modern digs with terrace tables.
You can get to experience the Barker’s way of hospitality here.
Spending time again at Freshchoice for grocery shopping.
Taking a quick snack bite at Jack’s Chinese Takeaways as I have been told by their locals that the food is pretty good here.
Settled for dinner at Royal India, as recommended by the motel host.
Chunks of gurnard fish marinated in a yoghurt sauce with herbs and spices, cooked in the tandoor.
It’s really damn deliciously good. Asian cuisines in New Zealand are definitely way much better and tastier than in Australia for sure. 👍
Greeted with this beautiful serene view the moment I draw up the curtain from my motel room.
Life is indeed carefree in the countryside. Away from the hustles and bustles from our city life.
Enjoying a relaxing breakfast at Barker’s Foodstore & Bakery.
They have a great variety of food selection that can leave you certainly spoilt for choice.
Geraldine free-range poached eggs, roasted mushrooms & Geraldine butchery free-range streaky bacon.
Moving up to Pleasant Point next, a nearby small township.
Paid a visit to the Pleasant Point Museum & Railway, yesterday’s history preserved for tomorrow.
In 1970, a steam locomotive, Ab 699 was placed as a static exhibit on the only piece of track not lifted about 50 metres in front of the old Pleasant Point Railway Station.
You may view the various exhibits and learn about its history in the museum, which was set up in the railway station.
Purchasing the entrance ticket and waiting to board the steam locomotive.
Time to board the fully operational Ab 699 Locomotive. It will run on the 2km of relaid track.
The various carriage layouts from first class to second class.
A small shed at Keanes Crossing to house the worker in the old days to maintain the track.
Caught sight of the deers instead of the usual cows and sheeps at Keanes Crossing.
One of the attractions at Keanes Crossing.
Inside the movie theatre waiting eagerly for the showing of old-time films to start.
Hope you enjoy and have fun with the snippets of the old-time cartoon film for those who can resonate well. 😉
Oh! How I loved these Vintage Movie Posters. Just brings back old memories and a chance to walk down the memory lane. 👍
After spending a good time at Keanes Crossing, it’s time now to head back to the Pleasant Point Railway Station on The Model T Ford Railcar.
I had a great time with Stewart, who operates the railcar and at the same time doubles up as my commentary and guide for the entire walking down the memory experience.
Thereafter, continuing with a couple of sightseeing attractions within Pleasant Point before moving down to Timaru for more sightseeing.
The 4m high bicycle features two cast iron wheels Hugh Evans spotted on the side of the road near Woodend in 2010.
Richard Pearse was a New Zealand farmer and inventor who performed pioneering aviation experiments. Witnesses interviewed many years afterwards describe observing Pearse flying and landing a powered heavier-than-air machine on 31 March 1903, nine months before the Wright brothers flew.
Chilling out and grabbing a late lunch at Arthur’s Street Kitchen, Timaru’s hippest coffee house.
Went over to Patiti Point, an exposed reef and point break that draws surfers here due to the very consistent surf and works all around the year.
See what I see! A fur seal sunbathing on the coastal line!
More grocery shopping at PakńSave. Guess I should have covered all their supermarkets for this trip. 😀
While driving back, happen to catch sight of this nice herd of sheep. Couldn’t help but to stopover to snap a picture of it. ☺️
One for the road encore dinner at Royal India Restaurant. 👍👍👍
Lamb curry with a heady combination of intense spices in tomato curry sauce. The lamb is fall apart tender and packs a serious flavour punch.
This Indian curry is about making flavourful semi dry vegetarian dish with potatoes, cauliflower and tangy tomatoes.
The timely arrival of the piping hot basmati rice goes extremely well with the curry dishes. What more can I ask for! With a satisfying dinner, it quickly brings Day 6 to an end.
Starting Day 7 morning breakfast at Verde Geraldine.
Loved the cozy, country-style interior café setting.
After a good charge up, it’s time to head back up to Christchurch for my final 2 nights stay before homecoming.
Did my first stop to the Sign of the Kiwi. The Sign of the Kiwi was built as one of the four rest houses on the Port Hills. These were part of the plans by conservationist and recreationist Harry Ell, the Sign of the Kiwi was first called Toll Cottage and opened in 1916.
You can get a great view of the crater rim from here and there are quite a number of walking & hiking trails that you can spend time here as well.
There is also a mountain bike track where the narrow track runs down the steep mountain slopes.
This is definitely for the dare devils and not the faint-hearted. Just a slightest mistake, and the biker will fall to their deaths literally. 😱
Taking a late morning break at Sign of the Kiwi Café.
You can also catch a glimpse of the scenic view overlooking the Cashmere Hills while sipping your coffee at the café. This is what life should be all about! I am a strong advocate on living life to its fullest!
Afterwhich, I took a scenic route drive round the crater rim. Stopping by Governors Bay.
Taking in the bay views from Governors Bay.
Followed by Cass Bay………
……… and finally, ending up at the beach access area at Corsair Bay.
Had a late quick fix lunch at Magic Wok at New Brighton.
Third stop of the day at New Brighton Pier and Beach.
The New Brighton Pier was designed to be a place where people could feel close to the ocean. Much of the pier’s length is out over the water, even at low tide.
Managed to catch hold of some beautiful seagulls while strolling to the end of the pier.
At the end of the pier, you will see groups of people coming here for fishing activities.
Taking in panoramic views of the New Brighton Beach.
I will be staying over at Colombo in the City Motel in Christchurch for my final 2 nights.
The room is clean, spacious, and big too. So far, all the accommodations that I have had in New Zealand have been great. Feeling blessed and fortunate. 🙏
From the hotel, I took a leisure stroll to Christchurch City Centre to take in some sightseeing. The city is so quiet and “dead”. The vibes here are so different from the small town which I enjoy more than here. 🤣
Christchurch Cathedral is still undergoing restoration works after the earthquake back in 2010 that destroyed it.
Celebrating street art in the city. Christchurch’s vibrant and growing arts scene comes alive on the City’s walls. You can get to see walls of graffiti within the city centre.
Had my dinner at The Great India Restaurant before calling it a night.
Multiple flavoured vegetables cooked together in a traditional Indian onion-tomato gravy.
Chicken cooked in an authentic traditional vindaloo in a thick dry curry which is hot tasting with bursting flavours of garlic and spices.
Finally, I am into Day 8 of my trip, which is also the final night in New Zealand. Time really flies whenever we are having good time. This morning, I will be making a day trip to Akaroa, about 80km from Christchurch.
Akaroa is a town on the Banks Peninsula, southeast of Christchurch, New Zealand and nestled in the crater of an extinct volcano in Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula.
It is unique in being the only attempted French settlement in New Zealand, and it still retains an authentic French atmosphere. Many streets have French names, and descendants of the original settlers still live there.
Akaroa Beach is on the eastern shore of Akaroa Harbour, where rare Hector’s dolphins swim.
Enjoying a late breakfast at The Common, a relaxed garden bar & café in Akaroa.
Sausages, streaky bacon, hash brown, fried tomato, black pudding, mushrooms and poached eggs on ciabatta.
The Akaroa Lighthouse is one of the few remaining examples of early wooden lighthouses in New Zealand. It is a six-sided Victorian lighthouse with four levels. Unfortunately, it was undergoing restoration work when I visited.
Beautiful view of the Akaroa Harbour taken from the Akaroa Lighthouse.
Fret not. You can still catch hold of the Akaroa Lighthouse model at the town centre. 😅
You may also visit The Giant House in Akaroa if you can spare the time other than catching up on some sightseeing activities.
The Giant’s House has terraced gardens and features colourful sculptures and mosaics.
Late lunch at Ma Maison Restaurant Akaroa, one of Akaroa’s hidden gems. The dining area is decked out with an open fire and bi-fold doors, so the breathtaking waterfront views overlooking Daly’s wharf and the Akaroa Harbour remain uninterrupted.
Daly’s Wharf, a historic jetty overlooking Akaroa Harbour.
How warming it is to be in a cosy environment with the fireplace inside the restaurant.
Smoked ponzu, pickled cucumber, shiitake mushroom and pickled ginger gel.
Creamy rue base, tempura prawns, mussels, fish, salmon, calamari and garlic bread.
With a great time in Akaroa, it’s time to make my way back to Christchurch.
Visited Copenhagen Bakery next, an Award Winning Danish-European Style Bakery, Copenhagen serves a delicious selection of breads and treats at the café.
One for the road dinner at The Hoi Polloi before homecoming.
Grilled to your liking (medium rare for me ☺️), served with potato fritters, caramelised shallots, mushroom and beef jus.
Stuffed with aged brie & prune, wrapped in crispy bacon, mustard potato mash, chorizo and salsa verde.
Served with mascarpone cheese & berry coulis.
Day 9, time to depart Christchurch for home. It has been a good holiday break as always, and I will now be looking forward to my next trip.
Stopping by Cocoa Black for a morning wake-up coffee while en route to the car rental company for my car return.
Taking the complimentary shuttle to the airport after dropping off the rental car.
Bye New Zealand…….
Relaxing at Air New Zealand Louge prior to boarding.
Light refreshment for brekkie.
Cheers to homecoming!
Commencement on sky lunch.
With onion, cucumber and spicy peanut sauce.
With cucumber, fresh mint and citrus creme fraiche.
With Chinese greens and egg noodles.
Midway delectable, Kway Teow Soup.
Light dinners before landing.
With olives, cherry tomato and lemon wedge.
Overall, it has been a good trip despite the last-minute changes due to unforeseen circumstances. Having said that, I am glad that all turns out well and importantly kept safe throughout the trip. 🙏