My journey to Southern island of New Zealand

Posted by Howard on December 18, 2017

• Preparation

We went to Southern island of New Zealand on the New Year’s Day in 2015, the reason is the relatively cheap airline price. We decided to spend 12 days there and arrival/departure in Christchurch, to travel in a more flexible approach using campervan instead of traveling by car. I have been preparing for a long time, renewing our visa in Australia, booking airlines from the Zuji, booking a campervan, although I am not a newbie to vans, I am still not quite confident to drive a campervan, so I choose to rent a small van called lucky rental, originally I want to rent Lucy juicy, but I was too late, they were leased out.

At this stage, my advice is booking campervan as early as possible; I booked too later and got the lucky rental, which gave me so much anxiety during the trip. Another tip is that travel insurance usually does not cover the big scaled vehicle such as campervan. Looking for a voucher or promotion for a car parking in the airport as early as possible will save you some money on car parking.

As for the finance, you’d better have a Citibank plus account or a Bankwest platinum credit card, there is a tread here:

To exchange some cash before setting off will give you some flexibility.

After these preparations, I began to figure out my travel route so that I can book camping site later. I searched many posts on the internet, originally we wanted to arrive Christ church, then travel along the middle route to Lake Tekapo, mountain cook, arrow town, queenstown, Te Anau, Milford Sound, Glenorchy, Wanaka, Fox Glacier , Franz Josef,Greymouth and pancake rock, but things changed in the mid.

After making up the route, I can book camping site, I’d like to book mostly power sited camp. However, reflecting what happened, this is quite stupid; I would rather advice book power site after one day or another.


  1. book airline months in advance;
  2. book a medium sized campervan months in advance;
  3. looking after vouchers for airport car parking 1 or 2 months before;
  4. exchange some cashes a week before setting off;

My itinerary: • Day 1: Christchurch

• Day 2: Lake Tekapo

• Day 3: Mount Cook

• Day 4: Arrow town && Queenstown • Day 5: Arrow town && Queenstown

• Day 6: Te Anau

• Day 7: Milford Sound

• Day 8: Wanaka

• Day 9: Queenstown

• Day 10: Mount Cook

• Day 11: Lake Tekapo

• Day 12: arrived Christchurch and went back Melbourne. ______________

This is due to the earthquake in the middle. My original plan was:

• Day 1: Christchurch

• Day 2: Lake Tekapo

• Day 3: Mount Cook

• Day 4: Arrow town && Queenstown • Day 5: Arrow town && Queenstown

• Day 6: Te Anau

• Day 7: Milford Sound

• Day 8: Wanaka

• Day 9: Fox Glacier , Franz Josef

• Day 10: Greymouth , Pancake Rock

• Day 11: go to Christchurch via Arthur’s pass

• Day 12: Akaroa , then went back Melbourne.

• Day 13: Christchurch

It is about 2AM in the morning when we arrived Christchurch; we rested ourselves in the waiting area in the airport until 6 or 7 in the morning. Then I found a private shuttle bus, after minutes bargaining, we reached an agreement 40 or 45 NZ dollars for 3 people ( I cannot remember clearly. ), I was so happy then because AU dollars were at a very high level at that time.

This is the accommodation:

ibis Christchurch 107 Hereford St, Christchurch, 8001 New Zealand Tel: 64 (03) 3678666, Fax: 64 (03) 3678667

It is about 30 minutes’ driving from the airport and located in the middle of the Christchurch city, I decided to dwell there because firstly it is very cheap; secondly it is very close to the attractions in the city.

Christchurch suffered a series of earthquakes in 2009 and 2011, and it was seriously destroyed in 2011 and was still under reconstruction. Due to lack of money, less progress had been achieved, so when I was there, I can see most of the debris after that disaster.

The great cathedral had been severely damaged and we just walked around outside, most of the traveling information I accumulated before I set off proved to be out of date or invalid. Many people escaped from this city and a large amount of restaurants and hotels were empty.

I went to the lucky rental to pick up my little campervan, but they said all were rented out, the one planned to rent to me was damaged on a car accidence, so I can only have a campervan on the next day. The good thing was they lent me a wagon car on that day for free.

I was planning to go straight to lake Tekapo in the morning, but now I was disordered. I changed quickly and went to the famous France town called ‘Akaroa’, I would not recommend this place personally after going there. It was ‘people mountain and People Sea’, crowded with tourists, and to get there, I have to cross a big mountain. That was my impression of that place…

• Lake Tekapo

I obtained my camper van around 6 PM which is very later for me.

Route: Christchurch-Lake Tekapo 243 km, 3 hours 13 mins in the Mackenzie Basin.

So you can imagine it was very dark when I arrived the holiday park. This is the place I settled the van:

Accommodation: Powered site Lake Tekapo Motels & Holiday Park

The manager of the park is very considerate and they have expected some guests would arrive very late, the security card and parking information had been packed well in an envelope so I got to my place very easily.

The township faces north across the remarkable turquoise coloured lake to the mountainous drama of the Southern Alps. Lake Tekapo is a very tranquil place and we should stay here longer than we had been. The holiday park is just very close to the lake, and there was a business man there who can rent kayak and canoe for tourists. I am not happy with the guy because he forgot us after I paid, so I just got my payment back and walked away.

Lake Tekapo is also a good place for stargazing in the middle night, my wife and daughter went outside at night and they said the stars hanging in the sky are just like what we had seen in the planetarium room in Melbourne science work. It was a pity I didn’t see it.

I remember there was a delicious food—salmon fish in the Good Shepherd, it was very fresh and not cooked, and thus it tasted quite smooth inside mouth. I think it was sterilized.

• Mount Cook

Route: Lake Tekapoà Mt cook 101 km – about 1 hour 26 mins We camped here with a non-powered site: Glentanner Park Centre Mount Cook is really a fairy land in the earth. I don’t want to say more with my barren language. I f I could I would spend half of my journey time here. There is a hooker valley for walk track, the full Hooker Valley walk takes 4 hours return. Starting at the Visitor Centre or White Horse Hill campground/carpark (at the end of Hooker Valley Rd off State Highway 80). The track leads up the Hooker Valley, along the Hooker River and ends at the glacier lake, where there are amazing views of Aoraki/Mount Cook on a clear day. The Hooker Valley track is mostly flat and well-formed but some sections are rocky or muddy, and there are three or four swing bridges to cross. On your way to Glacier Lake in the hooker valley, be aware of wooden shed, a lot of people carved their names all over the interior walls, there are people from Japan, UK, US, China… I would not recommend you to do the same

• Arrow Town, Queenstown

It takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes’ driving from Mt Cook to Queenstown. On the way we visited Arrow Town.

Arrow town is a delightful gold rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River. You’ll be enchanted by Historic Arrow town, a New Zealand treasure. We spent around 2 hours or so walking around the historic open museum retrospection how difficult it was for our Chinese ancestors to come and survive in this place. It has also a quaint Main Street and lovely old cottages. The trees lining the road date back to the late 1670’s. This is really a lovely experience.

In Queenstown, we camped our little van here:

Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park

This is quite convenient place and 10 minutes’ walk distance to the centre of the city centre. Queenstown is rather crowded with people due to its fame and popularity.

I missed the toasted lamb leg in the shopping centre of the city, I cannot find the same wonderful cooked food in the supermarkets of Victoria. There is also a sort of big hamburger to sell near the beach site, it is easy to be identified—lots of people lined up all days.

• Te Anau

It takes too much driving if I go from Queenstown to Milford sound, so Te Anau is a stop to take an overnight break, it is the perfect town to base yourself from to visit Milford Sound.

We accommodated here in the top 10 holiday park, it was NZD 50 for a powered site, you need exchange some coins for the hot water shower, and there is about 300M free data wifi service in 24 hours: Free phone: 0800 249 746 (in New Zealand only) Phone: +64 3 249 7462 Fax: +64 3 249 7262 Email: Web:

There is a big shopping mall just around the holiday park and about 5 minutes’ walk distance. Route: Queenstownà Te Anau 172 km – about 2 hours 14 mins

Important tip: fulfil your oil tank before setting off Te Anau to Milford Sound, there is NO petrol stations along the road or in Milford Sound.

• Milford Sound

Before departing Te Anau, be aware to fulfil your oil tank, I need to emphasize this point again. There is no petrol station on the way and in Milford Sound, and you even cannot call for help because there is weak or no wireless signals on the way…I was almost stranded on the road on my way back.

Another tip is:

Make sure you do your supermarket shop before you arrive in Milford Sound as there are no grocery supplies available in Milford.

Route: Te Anauà Milford Sound 118 km – about 1 hour 43 mins.

Milford Sound is breathtaking and stunning place to tourist. There is a long tunnel to drive through prior to approaching Milford Sound. You have to wait for traffic light before entering the tunnel. The scene around the tunnel is quite beautiful and many people take a break stopping before the tunnel and enjoy the view. There are not so many accommodations in Milford Sound, it is a small village (actually cannot be called a town). This is the place we live and I suggest booking a place in advance due to limited accommodations and Milford sound’s popularity.

Milford Sound Lodge

After arriving the lodge, the reception helped us order Juicy lucy Boat cruises service, it’s $45 each in the morning session from 9:15am, the journey lasted about 1 hour. This is an excellent way to experience the Sound and the cruise can take you around almost each corner and you can enjoy many water falls in a close distance.

• Wanaka

After Milford Sound, I wanted to go back to Queenstown due to earthquake around glacier area.

Wanaka is a place for me to take a break after the Mount Cook during the journey.

We accommodated here:

Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park NZD 36

Two unforgettable things:

  1.   There is toasted lamb in the big shopping centre in Wanaka;
 2.  The scene on the way from Wanaka to Queenstown, there is a sharp climbing mountain road, which is quite scary from a far distance looking, it zigzag upwards the mountain like a snake!

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