Road Trip #1: South New Zealand - The Middle Earth

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We organized our first road trip overseas ever, a party of 6, this time together with my wife, daughter, both my parents and mother-in-law when we traveled to the Land of Long White Clouds, New Zealand from 19 Apr-1 May 2012.

Travel Tips:
1. If you have a GPS, pls bring along for your road trip. They will come handy. I updated my GPS device with NZ map myself from this open source community NZ Open GPS. Highly recommended!

2. When doing research, I recommend using the ranking website for anything related to New Zealand, so that you can get the view and experience of other travelers here. We found our campervan operator from this method too. It is very important that your vehicle rentals are reliable and is 'breakdown-free'. You don't want your car to breakdown in the middle of a deserted road and spoils your holidays.

3. Travel during summer (Dec-Feb) to get longer daylight up until 9pm. This trip, we traveled during the autumn (Mar-May) by which it gets dark by 630pm. Of course, traveling in different seasons allow you to experience different scenery.

4. Arrange airport shuttle online earlier from Super Shuttle if you have no ground arrangement with your hotel as it is cheaper and convenient.

5. In fact, try booking your trips (e.g. Milford cruise, TranzAlpine) online, whenever possible, as it's much cheaper to book in advance as you will get discounts and good deals.

6. Petrol stations are aplenty throughout towns except for the Milford Road where you have to ensure you have full tank of petrol before you start your journey to Milford because there are no petrol stations along the way.

7. If you are traveling by campervans/motorhomes, make sure you plan your trip earlier, marking down the holiday parks (powered sites with facilities and amenities) you going to stay because there are a few holiday park chains that you join as member. With the membership, you get further discounts when you stay at their parks throughout NZ and also Australia. I joined Kiwi Holiday Parks. The charges for powered sites in holiday parks were based on the number of people onboard the campervan. Normally, it ranged in between NZD$16-22/person. The price includes use of all park communal facilities, such as kitchen, showers/toilets and laundry.

There are others :
- Top 10
- Holiday Parks
- DOC Campsites - if you are on tight budget, you can stay here where these are unattended sites with no facilities whatsoever. You are dependent on your campervan for power/water/shower etc..

8. Stop by the information counter at the airport. It is a one-stop center that has all travel guides/brochures you need.

9. If you are traveling south to Bluff do NOT drive the entire SSR (Southern Scenic Route: TeAnau-Tuatapere-Riverton-Invercagill-Bluff-Owaka-Balcultha). The stretch from Tuatapare-Riverton-Ivercagill are beautiful as it is a coastal drive. However, I would recommend once you visited Bluff via Invercagill, head back to the main highway to Gore town. The stretch from Bluff-Owaka is not scenic at all. The road is windy and you can't drive fast. We wasted half a day traveling through this stretch of trunk road.

10. Cheapest place to buy souvenirs in South Island is in Te Anau.

11. Electrical plugs type: 3-pin flat (with 2 of the pins in V-shaped). Bring converter if necessary or if you can ask your hotel if they have the converter before your trip.

  • 2 + 2 + 11 + 4 + 1  = 20 hrs
  • Punting!
Trip Start Apr 19, 2012
Trip End May 01, 2012

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