Summer in New Zealand – South Island Summed Up

South Island: 3347 km in 19 days

From end of October 2016 to mid November 2016 we went on a 19 days DIY driving trip on the South Island of New Zealand. This was our second trip to New Zealand and this trip was planned specifically to target natural scenery.

Our first trip to New Zealand was in 2002, it was also a self drive DIY trip for four of us (myself, hubby and our two children age ten and eight), for three weeks we toured from the north to the south island. On this 2nd trip we (myself and hubby) decided to skip the North island, which was more heavily populated with more towns and cities and not our “cup of tea” and focus solely on the South Island.

Our South Island trip was set for 19 days, it was set for this duration because Yat Thong did not want to be away from work longer. So I just had to design an itinerary for 19 days. The total distance traveled came up to 3347 km which average out to 176 km a day. We did not drive 176 km a day, some days it was 300-400 km some days it was 10-20 km. For this trip we stayed at several places for two nights or more.

3347 km road trip

Total Expense Breakdown

The entire 19 days trip came up to SGD $7400 for two of us covering everything, from flights to insurance, to accommodation, rental car, petrol and food. The break down of the major items are as below:

Category Percentage
car rental and petrol 26%
accommodation 26%
air tickets & travel insurance 28%
meals 11%
entrance tickets 8%

We found that compared to 15 years ago the air ticket prices had came down a bit, as for accommodation costs and meal costs they had went up a lot. To lower the total cost we stayed for several nights in backpacker motels and cooked our own meals 50% of the time.

Rain in November

It rained almost everyday during the later part of the day on this trip. The rain did not spoil our enjoyment as it added some variations in our photography. Instead of always getting the same monotonous clear blue sky, we got multi layers of grey intonation that highlighted the mysterious and melancholic mood of the environment in our pictures. Though it might be cold and wet, these inconvenience were easily ignored in our excitement for “different views”.

One of the most memorable scene that we had captured in this trip was at Lake Rotoiti, in the evening in between the stop-gap of a long drawn out drizzle.

Jetty at Lake Rotoiti after a drizzle

Jetty scene at Lake Rotoiti after a drizzle

Another unforgettable scene was the mysterious mountain ranges that lie beyond the water of Lake Pukaki on a grey gloomy day. These scenery and many more that we had seen on this trip were lovely beyond description.

Lake Pukaki on a gloomy day

Lake Pukaki on a gloomy day

Northern Most and Southern Most

With 19 days we were able to travel to the northern most and southern most of the South Island. Though both destinations were very much out of the way, they were definitely worth the distance, time and effort to get there. At both destinations we saw landscapes that were unique to that location.

Archway Islands at Wharariki Beach, the northern most end of South Island

Archway Islands at Wharariki Beach, the northern most end of South Island

Wind blown tree at Slope Point the southern most end of South Island

Wind blown tree at Slope Point the southern most end of South Island

Do not wait to Travel

We had a wonderful time in New Zealand, the landscape scenery was stunning, the wild lives were awesome. New Zealand had so much to offer in terms of beautiful landscapes, unfortunately many of these beautiful places were not connected by roads or gondolas (cable cars). To experience this awesome scenery, visitors would have to trek for days and many times going uphill for a great distance. It was just so ironical that when we were young and strong we did not have the time and finance to make such trip. Now that we were able to take longer vacation breaks and afford the trip we did not have the energy to trek such long distance. While preparing the itinerary for this 19 days, we had to frequently eliminate places with lovely scenery knowing that we would not be able to undertake the strenuous trekking.

There was no point regretting the missed opportunities but to go forwards and grab whatever the earth has to offer.

Two things I would do differently

Though I had done a great deal of research up front in preparation for this trip, it was still not sufficient to avoid some unpleasantness. Two of them were most annoyingly, they were

Data Plan

  • Though Vodafone and Spark claimed that they had comparatively network coverage, Vodafone definitely had better coverage than Spark on the South Island especially when travelling to remote areas.

Car Rental

  1. Apex seemed cheaper in term of rental rates, it did not turn up much cheaper in the end. The sale girl pushed us to buy the “$0” Excess Collision Damage Waiver insurance coverage aggressively by “threatening” that the company had the right to
    1. take back the car if it was involved in an accident no matter how minor was the accident even if the accident was no fault of ours
    2. there would be no car replacement after an accident
    3. no refund for the outstanding days of rental already paid when the company took back the car.
  2. It was the pressurizing and unethical practice by Apex that bothered us.

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