9 Day South Island Self Drive Tour for a family of 5
The following letter and photo’s were sent to us by a recent client. Nenden and his family from Indonesia visited New Zealand in December 2015 and took a self drive road trip around the South Island.
I am writing this to express our Big Thank you to you all – as we believe that without a big help from you, our South NZ Trip will not be as amazing as what we experienced.
As always – we are late on decided which country that we are going to visit on our year-end holiday .. only in November – 5 of us agreed that we want to experience summer in New Zealand . And as always – we don’t want to join any tour , we always go with our own arrangement , as we want to do and visit what we want only – joining the tour for sure , we are not able to have that luxury.
First step, we are making sure we got the air ticket , as it’s peak seasons and not easy to get ticket . Also , as we want experience both North and South NZ with limited time – we want to have an effective travel time. Luckily – we can get a seat with SQ – with a good schedule – leaving on 24th landed at Auckland and back on 6th from Christchurch.
After the ticket – need to confirm the Visa NZ and our itinerary ! Learnt that Visa NZ is normally easy to obtain .. next is where to stay and what to do and how to reach one place to another . As always , me and my husband worked together for out itinerary – and after googling and heard from friend who just travel there last holiday, we roughly know what we are going to do. Hobbiton , swimming with dolphin, seeing penguin , agroventures , and visiting more cities on South is a must. We also been told that driving in NZ is a must Do ! We almost completed our time table – including doing reservation on the hotel and car as well as activities – but I do have some concern, as we are going to drive in South NZ , I have some worries , if we get lost or our car have problem, we don’t have any contact person to reach out .. – then I decided to do some search about the local private tour and it’s bring me to The Road Trip website !
Reading the sharing testimony , the package – I tried to contact them, and Chris respond very fast! Then we started the communication, and somehow we feel very comfortable with the arrangement and Chris always try to accommodate our need. Initially we decided to do guided tour , and included North and South , but then after many discussion, myself and my husband , decided to do self – drive , as it will give more quality time for 5 of us ! And as our previous trip, this kind of arrangement, where 5 of us must do everything together and look after each other can surely make our bonding better! And we look at our schedule at North is quite simple , so we decided that we do as our own arrangement at north, and we can experience taking bus to from Rotorua to Auckland and taking the normal tour. We feel everything is settle – though we do have small concern as we are wiring a bunch of money to the company that we haven’t met and known, but we did it and just try to think, everything will be ok!
After our amazing experience at North NZ, on December 29th , 2015 we fly from Auckland to Dunedin and feel so glad that once we touched down at Dunedin, we see a smiling face of pretty young woman holding the sign of my Name ! She is Sarah from Road Trip that helped us to get our car and handed over to us a “smart book” from Road Trip ! The Smart book is more important than our GPS in car ..as it’s contains all the details information on our activities, place to sleep and direction for every single day – including suggestion restaurant and the stories about the cities / place we are going to visit!! Suddenly we already know .. we are in good hand – and we have all the emergency contact list as well! We know that our South NZ Road Trip will be extra ordinary amazing !
After settling down with our car ! and we had a very nice and hi-tech car with exactly suit to fit in 5 of us and our 4 big luggage and few small bags ! we say good bye and thank you to Sarah.. and ready to start our journey ! wohoooo ! we really can’t wait for that!
Our first destination is the apartment we stay – and our eyes is been spoiled already with the stunning view from airport to our apartment .. and it’s very nice and clean apartment located perfectly in the town. And our schedule is easy and relax, so we just spend the night with having the steak for dinner and get some rest !
December 30th ! it’s a penguin day ! we are so excited meeting this penguin , as though we meeting them in the zoo and see the amazing penguin parade in Japan !, meeting them in their habitat is first time for us. All the arrangement to meet the Yellow Eyed Penguin and then the Albatros Bird was perfectly arranged by Road Trip, the instruction is clear – and with the clear optional activities information provided on the Smart handbook – we decided to enjoy the beautiful Lanarch Castle – the only Castle in NZ and back to Albatross place to see the shortest penguin in the world – the Blue Penguin came back from ocean to their place! It was completely amazing experience! Though we have to wait 30 minutes under the very cold weather and heavy wind is all payback! We even walk back to the road with 2 penguins following our step! Super cute!!
December 31st! as we requested to Road Trip, we had the no activities day ! We just enjoy scrolling the town, even do the laundry – as it’s been a week we travel ! , and enjoy the beach ! once in the 2 weeks travel, this is nice to have. And at night, we joined the crowded of Dunedin people on celebrating the incoming 2016 with the Fire works by walking from our place !
January 1st 2016 ! It’s a first day of 2016 and we start our first step in 2016 by driving from Dunedin to Queenstown. The super smart handbook told us that it will take 3 hour drive and so many information about the nice spot to take pictures or stop for coffee or even ice cream that we should not missed out ! We know definitely , we will need more than 3 hours! And it’s a worth 7 hour drive – as we stop in almost every spot that indicated in the smart handbook ! , and thanks to Road trip, that make easier for us to find the location !. We even take pictures with mama Jones, as Chris wants us to give his regards to her J. Once reached our hotel with the Lake Wakatipu view , we had to run for our first appointment on the top of gondola place ! thanks to Janelle that patiently following all the request we asked , as we did some modification of schedule , and Janelle made it to change the reservation for us! Love you Janelle! This activity was suggested by Chris , and turn out 5 of us enjoyed so much! It’s a 6 line Zip trek – doing flying fox with many style including upside down , with beautiful view of Lake wakatipu in the forest , getting down from the top of gondola place to the road in the bottom of the hills! Absolutely no regret activity!
January 2nd , we have free morning – so we decided to see the AJ Hackett Bungy Jumping place as we skipped this one on the way from Dunedin to Queenstown due to we need to go for the Zip Trek . The initial intention is just to watch and see – but end up I have 2 of my eldest kids did the bungy Jumping , tandem and they did it happily , though its first bungy jumping ever for them ! the location and view that made them want to try! Too bad Irvin , my youngest is underweight to do this bungy, so he did the zip line and happy with that. This is a very good point of arrange our own tour and time , so we can change the schedule as what we want , pick any restaurant , do any groceries , which we did it in every city! We still have pretty much a lot of time to scrolling down the city, enjoy ice cream – by the way, ice cream and gelato in New Zealand is our favorite and we had it every day ! in Queenstown we enjoyed while enjoying walking on the Lake side on the way to hotel . And Alex said , this is a city where we can do our gift shopping ! and we did a lot of shopping finally !
In the afternoon we continue our next appointment for the gondola ride, enjoy the dinner at the super nice restaurant and a must have to do at Star…. , after having fun at the Luge Ride ! We did take a lot of pictures as my husband’s hobby is photography , and the view on the top of gondola was spectacular as well. We should have enjoy the star gazing after dinner , but unfortunately the weather is not permit ,,,so they cancelled the tour , we got the refund, a bit sad, but still we had an amazing day!
January 3rd ! Time to really go to the Paradise at the Middle Earth ! We were picked up on time by Nomad Safaris Tour and really enjoy our tour to the Lord Of The Ring Film Scene Location ! Enjoy the picnic in the forest and the beautiful sceneries ! Love this 4 WD Tour much!
And as my friend said , not to leave Queenstown without trying the famous Fergburger , and as Road Trip mentioned, easy to find where it is , where the queue is never stop! Good we learnt it can be pre ordered , so we did and no need to queue! This is best ever Burger, French Fries and Gelato!
We need to continue the journey to Franz Josef Glacier – and as mentioned on our super smart handbook that this going to take 5 hours in total – again… with almost stop in all the highlight spot – it took us 9 hour drive! But it’s so well worth it, though a bit rain shower from on the Wanaka area , but we still see a very beautiful waterfall , scenery and this is spectacular – we even can see the full half circle of big rainbow at the end of our trip ! after the rain, here come the very beautiful rainbow. And without the help from Road Trip, we may missed many things! The stories that they wrote about each city, helped us to know better about cities we visited ! Once reached our Motel, we got nothing else to do but rest , as its late night already J but again, this is super nice day for us!
January 4th ! No way we left this city without seeing the glacier from a close distance , we knew that we cant make it for the helicopter ride , as we need to catch our train at Greymourth to Christchurch! We decided to wake up very early and do hike and walk to the Glacier viewing point, its 2 hours nice walk, with a beautiful panoramic and we can see the glacier in 250 m distance! Spectacular ! and we need to rushing to go to Greymouth, with another 3 hours drive . Due to time constraint , we decided to only choose few stop point from whatever suggested by Road Trip, and we are happy we choose the de tour to the Okarito Lagoon , the beach view is nice and quite .. we continue at 2 more stop including filling the fuel , as our smart handbook already highlighted which area that we have to fill up the fuel for our car and our stomach! Thanks to Road trip
We reached Greymouth on time ! to return our car and check in for the train! This is the famous Tranz Alpine, Kiwi Scenic Rail, and glad we had this.. as with the Viewing deck and super wide window – we did can enjoy the very very amazing view ! it’s really breath taking view! And we reach Christchurch on time – and glad that though station is closed, Janelle assist us with someone from the car rental to help us with our rental car – so we really have nothing to worry . And after get in the car we just heading to our very nice and modern apartment , and enjoyed the super nice dinner here – the food is super yummy!
January 5th , it’s Christchurch city tour day ! We did enjoy seeing the on the way renew-build city , and followed all the highlight spot suggested in our smart handbook ! and it’s a nice morning walk ! we continue with visiting the Onara Wild life, as my kids really love animal, and they are so happy meeting the devils ( Tazmanian Devil ), Wallaby , Cheetah , and the NZ unique animal .. its quite another long walk in this huge place, and glad weather is so friendly with us. Continue our next stop to the Port Hills , where we can see both Banks Peninsula and Christchurch city! Its really amazing view though you have to walk to the hill to see it . and we also enjoy the time at the Cass Bay Beach , kids having good time playing the playground there , before we are heading to Lyttleton ! we enjoy the wood wired pizza sold in the Caravan in this small city before we go back to Christchurch !
January 6th, It’s time to say good bye, we all feel we are Not Ready to go back yet! But no option, so we just wish we can go back here soon , and enjoy the other part of NZ ! There is no Day during the 13 days of our trip that we don’t feel great, amazing and happy and this trip does make our bonding as family is tighten ! We really feel blessed , and for sure in our next visit , we are going to have Road Trip to help us again, and highly recommended to our friends and families who plan to visit NZ!
Thank you again Road Trip Team, without you, we may missed a lot of nice , spectacular places and view , many good restaurant of steak, gelato and burger and missed a great activities ! You have been a blessed and big help for us.
Here is some of our pictures, and you can see our happiness.. we took around 1000 pictures on this trip, we shared some to you..
Again many big thanks and love from 5 of us ..
Nenden + Dhira + Rana + Nabil + Irvin.