August 31st - Sept 1st, 2013
From Sydney, we boarded Air New Zealand flight VA8108 to Christchurch. We took off at 06.25pm (Sydney time) and landed at 11.25pm (Christchurch time). The flight time was approximately 3 hours and after the refreshment was served I took the opportunity to catch up on some sleep.
After the cool Sydney's weather, Christchurch's cold night hit us like a slap. Even in the terminal we could feel the cold. And coming from Malaysia, it was a real shocker. Fortunately I was already dressed for the weather so all I need to do was put on my heavy outer jacket.
|Christchurch here we come :)|
|One for my album :)|
Our plan was just to sleep at the airport until the next morning pickup. Unknown to us, Christchurch airport's policy did not allow overnight sleeper, unless they had an early morning flight ticket to prove. Apparently as one of the security officers told us, there were people who literally camped at the airport for weeks. We showed him our campervan's pickup appointment for the next morning and were allowed to stay until 8.am. By the way, the security guy we spoke to was from Batu Pahat, Johor. However, fellow Malaysian or not, he treated us just the same. Full scrutiny of our documents then gave us wrist bands to wear. And we still need to get out of the airport by 8.am.
We had a choice of just sitting at the arrival terminal's chairs, or for NZD5.00 per pax, we can rest at a heated lounge (next to shower room) furnished with bean bag seat. For either option, sleeping on the floor or lying on our back on the chair was not allowed. The lounge was quite full so we opted just to wait for the morning at the terminal's chair near the entrance. It was comfy enough, bundled in 3 layers of warm clothing as I was. What we did not foresee was the cold air rushing in every time the doors slid open! Quite a "teeth chattering" experience :D
|Control Tower - Christchurch Aiport. Vertorama 2 images|
In the morning, the rental company sent a bus to pick us up from the Airport. A short distance later we arrived at the depot where we were met by Rosie, from Penang. Wah! Another Malaysian migrating to NZ! Rosie took care of the registration and even showed us how to put on the snow chain on the rear tires.
A note on renting campervan in New Zealand : you are required to post a NZD5,000-00 bond, which will be refunded to you upon return. Provided you were not involved with any accident. Apparently 3rd Party Liability Insurance for Motor Vehicle was not compulsory in NZ, unlike Malaysia. So if you were involved in any accident, even if wasn't your fault, the rental company will deduct it from your bond.
We certainly could not afford the NZ5,000-00 bond so we opted for the all inclusive insurance NZD46-00 per day, for our peace of mind.
EQC60 - home for next 8 days
We then head out to buy the groceries. I honestly do not remember where, we simply input "halal butcher" in our GPS's search function and choose the nearest one. What I do remember was that the operator was of Middle East descent (probably Iranian). We bought beef, rice, chicken and some spices. Next door was a fish market where we bought some fish (I wanted to cook some Salmon Asam Pedas LoL) and we bought our vegies from a market across the road. Our freezer fully stocked, we next head to a supermarket for some last-minutes shopping. As I had all that I needed (or so I thought) I just waited in the campervan.
And finally we were ready to really begin. First destination : Lake Tekapo.
From Christchurch, the drive to Lake Tekapo took about 3 hours, covering approximately 222km via State Highway 1 for about 117km, and then at Farlie we turned to State Highway 79 for about 45km.
Another turn to State Highway 8, drove for about 41km and we took a right turn into the Pioneer Drive. A short while later, we passed the Sheepdog Statue and then we arrived at the Church of Good Shepherd.
|Arriving at Lake Tekapo|
The drive itself was very memorable. Beautiful scenery all around us - rolling green hills, snow capped mountains, and even iced covered roadside. However as we were quite behind in our schedule, we did not make any stop so all the following images are all drive-by shots :
|rolling hills view from the front seat|
|another drive-by of NZ's rolling hills - side view|
a common but beautiful view of skeletal trees lining up the road
|The Church of Good Shepherd|
From Wikipedia :
Lake Tekapo is the second-largest of three roughly parallel lakes running north–south along the northern edge of the Mackenzie Basin in the South Island of New Zealand (the others are Lake Pukaki and Lake Ohau). It covers an area of 83 square kilometres (32 sq mi), and is at an altitude of 700 metres (2,300 ft) above sea level. The Maori were the first people discovered the Mackenzie Basin. The name Tekapo derives from the Maori words taka (sleeping mat) and po (night). The Mackenzie Basin only became known to Europeans until 1855. In order to find a less conspicuous route, James Mackenzie, a Scottish sheep stealer, ventured inland and discovered the high country that now bears his name. In 1857, John and Barbara Hay established the first sheep farm in Mackenzie on the shore of Lake Tekapo.
Apart from the church, there are other attractions at Lake Tekapo Town. At Mount John Observatory you can take a stargazing tour and experience the use of telescope. Or you can soak in the hot pools, dash around the ice skating rink or have an adrenaline filled ride down the tubing park at Tekapo Spring. For the more adventurous type, try an Alpine Horse Trekking up the mountain. And for those with thick wallet, take a cruise down the lake. Better yet, have a go at Air Safaris or Helicopter Scenic Flight!
For us on tight budget, it was enough for us to be there and enjoy the scenery. With our camera's shutter busily clicking, of course!
Here are some of the images I took around the church. I hope you enjoyed viewing them as much as I enjoyed taking them :)
|Mk Azmi, one satisfied photog|
|(c) Born Amin|
|Born Amin & Jemang in action|
|Lake Tekapo Panorama|
|Snow-capped mountain across the lake basking in golden light|
I also managed to shoot a timelapse here. Do look for the shadow creeping up the mountain :)
Till my next post, wassalam.
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