(First part of a series.)
Every year, I try to make it a point to go on a big trip. It’s not the usual training trips in different parts of the Philippines, not the long weekend getaways to Palawan or Boracay, not even the type of brief travels to HongKong, Kota Kinabalu or Singapore. It’s that one big trip that I had to plan for months, save up for each payday, pack luggage good for several weeks. One big trip that takes FAITH to make it happen. :) Last year was our backpacking adventure around South East Asia; this year, I’ve decided to visit my sister’s new home country – the beautiful New Zealand. That’s #thebigtrip2012.
Suprise-me kind of trip.
First part of this is spending a week roadtripping the South Island for our Christmas holiday. We traveled by driving (my sister’s own car) from West Coast to East Coast of this island. I didn’t even know what to expect. I didn’t research in advance or even look at the internet photos which I’ll see around the island. This way, I was not worried about ruining surprises or not meeting any expectations, I just left all the itinerary details and planning with my sister.
I was totally blown away by surprise on the scenes I saw… Everywhere I go, there’s no shortage of sights that make me go “Wow!” This is indeed Middle-earth.
The REAL MIDDLE-EARTH photos.
That red Subaru outback is the one that took us around the South Island! Good job! We rode the Interislander ferry to Picton.
Off the road we go!
We started our sojourn in the West Coast. Soon as we hit the road, this beautiful scene just surprised us! This was taken early morning.
Cows and that lovely backdrop. On the way to Fox Glacier.
On the way to Wanaka. This is near where Pao accidentally let our hardcopy map slip away from her hand. We had to go back and pick it up from the road.
This was just taken inside the car.
This one of my favorites. It’s like I’m gazing at God’s beauty… There’s always something new that surprises us.
From Wanaka to Queenstown, we were going to pass Crown Range Summit.
Going through the Crown Range Road.
The road then climbs steeply to the summit– 1076 metres or 3530 feet above sea level. New Zealand’s highest sealed road.
View from the top. The road zigzags down from the Crown Terrace where you can look down to Arrowtown in the Arrow Valley.
This one’s already on the way to Mt. Cook National Park. Look at those Misty Mountains.
We caught a rainbow on this side of the road! This was from Lake Tekapo.
How to do a safe road trip around South Island.
Most travelers going around the South Island rent camper vans or take their own cars or travel by plane to their intended destination. Some ride their own road bikes or motor bikes with their backpacks on the side. Bringing our own car was the most practical mode for us. This was our first ever long road trip we have ever done in our lives so at first we were all nervous because we didn’t know what to expect along the road. Thank God He has always kept us safe in each destination we went to.
Based on our experience, here’s some safety measures you can take:
- Drive on the left side of the road! Yup, that’s how it is in this country.
- Make sure your gas tank is full before you travel to another town. You’ll never know where the next gas station will be.
- Don’t rely on the GPS all the time. You should also have your own hardcopy map and other back-up maps such as iPad 3G map and Lonely Planet.
- Do know what the road signs mean. And FOLLOW them. NZ roads never run out of road signs to guide you.
- If you’re not in a hurry, keep left when there’s a passing lane and just let the fast cars pass you by on the right.
- In the South, you would hardly meet large trucks or other motorists past you on the road. But sometimes there would be drivers who will tailgate you. Don’t get distracted by them and just let them pass.
- Don’t ever ever overspeed. You’ll never know an under surveillance police car or a safety camera is watching you.
- Keep your eyes on the road. I know it’s very tempting to gaze at the beautiful scenery around you when driving but you can do that if you’re not driving.
- Safe to travel on daytime and summertime since NZ has longer days during summer (sun is up until 10pm). On the other hand, I learned that it’s also different to travel on winter because there are more snowcapped mountains in that season.
- Keep your car insurance policy number and other emergency numbers handy.
- Tell someone reliable where you’re heading or where you’re at. :)
What I particularly liked about the roads in NZ is there are hardly any rough roads and there are reflectors on both sides of the road in case you would be travelling at night.
Tripline: our route around South Island.
Here’s our tripline map. You can get idea how your South Island itinerary will be like.
It was a great road adventure. I’ll tell you more about it in the coming posts!