Friday, January 13, 2017

NZ South Island Itinerary for 20 days on budget


Since AirAsia started the KUL-AKL route, I think the number of Malaysian going to NZ increased tremendously. I guess this will be a very helpful post to help you answer the following questions:
1. How long do I need to travel around South Island?
Ideally, you will need at least two weeks to have a decent trip. Honestly, you will need more time if you are into hiking. We did one hike (short/long) every two days and I have to admit that our east coast trip was pretty intense. We tried to fit everything into one week in order to make it to Milford Sound before the stormy week.

2. How much do I need for travelling in New Zealand?
It really depends on what you want to do. Accommodation is the most expensive cost for our trip. We stayed in hostel every day because I insisted on showering everyday. LOL
Use Wikicamps, and YHA website to look for deals. A YHA/BBH card would be very useful. For Malaysians, I would suggest you to apply for YHA card in Malaysia.

To save even more, you should try to cook everyday especially when you travel in groups. One carbonara dish (~$2/pax) with heaps of bacons can last you for two meals. Besides that, you have to exercise perfect self-control (I'm so bad at this) at the supermarket. My travel mate spent $885 for 16 days vs me who spent $1137 for 20 days because I couldn't say no to ice-cream or chocolates.

3. Should I use bus pass (Kiwi Experience/Stray) or drive?
If you are travelling alone/you don't want to drive, you can stick with the bus pass. If you have one friend with you, you can consider renting a car. However, the road can be pretty narrow and winding. We planned our trip in a way that we don't exceed 5 hours of driving every day.

So, to help you plan your trip better, I'm going to share my 20 days itinerary, hostels, things-to-do and expenses breakdown for the trip. This will be a very simple post as I will go into the details later.

First, let me run through the itinerary with you.
Day 1 to 4 - Christchurch and Springfield
Christchurch CBD, Botanical Garden, Museum, Art Gallery, Mount Pleasant

YHA Christchurch

Day 5 - Christchurch-Lake Tekapo-Omarama
Lake Pukaki & Good Shepherd Church

Omarama Buscot Station BBH

Day 6  - Hooker Valley Track-Lake Benmore-Oamaru
Hooker Valley Track Hike (3 hrs return), Lake Benmore, Blue penguin watching (FREE)

YHA Red Kettle, Oamaru

Day 7 - Oamaru-Moeraki Boulders- Dunedin
Oamaru Art Gallery
Oamaru self-guided walking tour
Moeraki Boulders (check for tide times- only go during low tides)
Dunedin (Baldwin Street & self-guided walking tour)

Manor Backpackers Place

Day 8 - The Catlins- Bluff- Invercargill
McLean Falls
Nugget Point Lighthouse
Cathedral Cave (check for tide times- only go during low tides)
The Lost Gypsy Caravan (It was closed during winter season)
P/s: I would recommend a minimum of two days for this route but we were in a rush as we wanted to be at Milford Sound for the good weather.

Day 9 - Invercargill- Te Anau
Te Anau & Manapouri Lake
P/s: Best place to do Kepler Track day hike but we didn't have enough time

Manapouri Freestone Backpacker

Day 10 - Milford Sound
Milford Sound Cruise by Go Orange! ($45)
Key Summit Track, The Divide
Mirror Lake

Manapouri Freestone Backpacker

Day 11 - Queenstown-Wanaka-Lake Hawea
Lunch at Fergburger and dessert at Mrs. Ferg
QT Sunday Market & Botanical Garden
Lake Wanaka for Wanaka Tree
P/s: Would do Rob Roy Glacier & Black Diamond Lake Track if we had sufficient time. Check out Roy's Peak's lambing season

Lake Hawea Hostel

Day 12 - Isthmus Peak Hike
Isthmus Peak Track (6 hrs return)
P/s: Did this instead of Roy's Peak because Roy's Peak was closed for lambing season. You can see both Lake Wanaka & Lake Hawea from Isthmus Peak. Bring gloves to keep warm!

Lake Hawea Hostel

Day 13 - Fox Glacier-Hokitika
Fox Glacier Walk (2 hrs return - FREE)
Drove past westcoast due to bad weather
P/s: Fox Glacier walk was not worth it IMHO. Too much effort needed for the view. LOL

Mountain Jade Backpackers Hokitika

Day 14 - Hokitika -Westport
Hokitika Beach

Hokitika Gorge
Punaikaki Pancake Rocks

The Arthouse Hostel Westport

Day 15 - Westport-Nelson
Nelson Lake National Park
P/s: The I-site recommended us Buller Gorge but we found out that the place is a bit run down and poorly managed. And also, it was raining when we were there and we decided to skip it.

The Bug Backpackers, Nelson

Day 16 - Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman Hike (Torrent Bay- Marahau)
P/s: I would suggest you to take the watertaxi from Marahau instead. We used Aquataxi for the trip.

Annies Nirvana Lodge, YHA

Day 17 - Golden Bay
Wairariki Beach
Cape Farewell
Te Waikoropupu Spring
Grove Scenic Reserve

The Bug Backpackers, Nelson

Day 18 - Picton
Shelly Bay Track
Bob's Bay Track
Picton Waterfront

Pacific Coast Lodge, YHA/BBH

Day 19 - Picton-Christchurch
Kaikoura for Fish and Chips

Kiwi House Hostel

Day 20 - Castle Hill
Castle Hill (Filming place for Narnia)

YHA Rolleston House

As you can see from the itinerary, my friends and I weren't into any touristy activities. Oh well,  except for Fergburger and Milford Sound Cruise but we wanted them badly. 
Hence, if you are into Skydiving or glacier tour, you will need to add that expenses onto the budget. :)

As mentioned earlier, I have spent $1137 or RM 3,500 (RM3.07= 1$ as per Dec 2016) for this 20 days trip. Whee!

As shown by the pie chart above, accommodation and fuel are the most expensive cost for this trip.
Car Rental & Fuel - We rented a Fiat Punto for 16 days from Jucy and the rental (including full insurance) were shared among 3 people. Fuel price was around $1.76/L-$2.08/L.
Groceries - Daily meal & dine-out. We cooked most of our nutritious meals.
Activities - Milford Sound Cruise and Aqua Taxi ride for Abel Tasman.
Personal Spending -  Snacks, chocolates and postcards

I guess that's about it and I hope that it is a helpful post for all of you. =)

Feel free to leave a comment or email us if you need any clarification from me.


Sing Tian said...

this is perfect for my planning. Thanks Xin Hui. Will bug you more on CNY. :)

MiqTravellers said...

No problem! You can also bug CY since he's there. ;)