New Zealand Nov 2004 trip – Dunedin

This is part of some travelling notes I wrote exactly 4 years ago for a trip to New Zealand in November 2004. Please enjoy the story.

Day 2, 07 November 2004, Sunday

I checked out of the hotel at 7:15am. A small van came to pick me up and 3 other passengers. One was a French young lady, named Mahena (or something like that. She said most people get it wrong.), who worked in Auckland and was here for a holiday. Didn’t get the other two people’s names. Van driver’s name’s Maurice.

Turns out I’m the only one getting off at the coach station. Then I realised nobody’s going to be with me permanently or even more than 1 day at a time. Driver’s gonna be different, companions gonna be different. This is just fine. I get to meet all sorts of people then. I didn’t think the tour company meant it literally when they said I’ll have different people travelling with me.

Reached the coach station, gave my next voucher to the lady behind the counter and got a boarding pass. Got on coach and the driver’s name is Eric. Nobody sat beside me, at least not for the first part of the journey.

We set off slightly late (15 minutes. These people really take punctuality seriously. I shudder at the wedding dinners in Singapore… I had one driver some days after this with a 5 minute delay. He kept apologising to us so much that I felt embarassed.). Really apologetic about it. I wowed at scenery for the first hour, but dozed through the better part of the second hour. Very tired.

Timaru

Timaru

Stopped at Timaru for 5 minutes. Then we set off again.

Sheep
Sheep!

Cows
And cows!

Shallow river
And rivers!

Then we stopped at Oamaru.

Oamaru

Oamaru

Got some orange juice for lunch (NZ2.00). By this time, the coach had a few more passengers (there were 2 or 3 stops along the way where people got on board).

Dense hills

More hills

The two Koreans in front of me sort of got separated when an old lady took one of their seats. So one of the Koreans joined me, and that’s how I met Jung Tea Hee. There’s a language barrier, because his English’s bad, and my Korean’s practically non-existent. I managed to know he’s 26 years old, think he’s a student. He travelled with his friend for 2 months already, and spent the last 14 days in New Zealand. He’s heading for Queenstown.

Cargills Hotel

Around Cargills Hotel

Reached Dunedin (pronounced duh-nee-duhn, and not dee-oon-din, nor doo-nuh-din. Made a fool of myself before.), said farewell to Jung (ah-nay-oh) and waited for my transfer cab to the hotel (female driver’s name’s Red). Checked in at Cargills Hotel and then went looking for food. I haven’t had lunch yet, unless you count the orange juice I had in Oamaru.

Girls marching

Girls marching

Walked around, found some school girls doing marching performances on a field with their parents and teachers. There’s even some hip music used for some of the teams. Took some pictures of that, and then found McDonald’s (the staff ain’t too attentive, nor too helpful, nor too friendly. Either me, or my race. I hope it’s just me.).

University of Otago
The University of Otago is sprawled everywhere in the town.

Cadbury confectionery

Original plan was to see the Cadbury World and the university book shop. The chocolate factory offered one-hour tours every half hour from 9:00am till 3:30pm, at NZ14. Well I’m a bit late now, and frankly speaking, not keen on it anyway. It’ll be like Willy Wonka’s factory. Plus it’s one entire hour in there. I could do so much more outside.

Countdown convenience store

Got new batteries (NZ6.29) at a local 24/7 convenience store because the camera’s eating them up, and a bottle of water (NZ2.09) for my parched throat and lips. And I even got a coupon that the supermarket cashier (operator lane 5, says so on my receipt) gave (it’s for the Duracell batteries). So the total cost was NZ7.10. It’s now 5:10pm.

Dunedin railway station

Dunedin railway station information board

Some skaters I spotted
Some skaters I spotted behind the railway station.

Dunedin railway station garden

I explored some more, went back to hotel for a NZ26.00 chicken dinner. Will explore the other half of Dunedin tomorrow. And see how life is like on a Monday. Especially with the university students (University of Otago. The university is like scattered, with faculties all over the town.).
[Edit: On hindsight, there probably won’t be many students in November. Doh!]

Behind University of Otago

The weather isn’t as cold as in Christchurch, or as blustery. And eight. That’s the number of people I’ve seen walking around barefoot. 6 men, 1 women and a little girl.

New Zealand Nov 2004 trip – Christchurch

This is part of some travelling notes I wrote exactly 4 years ago for a trip to New Zealand in November 2004. Please enjoy the story.

Day 1, 06 November 2004, Saturday

Technically speaking, today was the actual first day on my tour package itinerary. But I wasn’t really concentrating on this. The flight attendants served breakfast, and this time I took it.

We landed in Auckland after 10 hours of flying, an 8404 kilometre flight straight from Singapore. Time in New Zealand was 11:40am. And my check in time for the transfer flight to Christchurch is 12:40pm! So I only have an hour to finish whatever I need to do. One would probably think there’s enough time, but I’m not going to take chances. I said goodbye to Richard, and alighted the plane.

The check out counter was slow. Man, was it slow! When I finally managed to get my luggage, it’s already 12:30pm! I rushed to check in counter. Argh! Wrong terminal! I need to go to the domestic terminal. Amazing Race music kept playing in my head now… Dragged my luggage to the internal shuttle service station, and kept wishing the driver would move already. Finally reached the domestic terminal, checked in just in time, and took the two and a half hour flight at 1:00pm, and arrived in Christchurch airport.

Retrieved my luggage from the conveyor belt, and saw my limousine transfer driver. He’s holding up a sign reading “Mr Tan”. That’s me! His car didn’t seem like a limo to me, but at this point I didn’t really care about the fine art of identifying car types. It’s bigger and grander than most cars, but that’s about my limit of vehicle differentiation.

The driver’s name was Bryce, and he handed me the travel vouchers and explained to me how to use them. Actually, after he explained the first two vouchers, I got the idea already, but he went on. All the way to the last voucher. Well I didn’t want to offend him, so I kept quiet and listened. On the way to the hotel, we talked about stuff. I only remember the NZ1400+ for a car…

Kingsgate Autolodge Hotel
Where I stayed for the night.

Christchurch Town Hall

Christchurch Tramways

A big giant cross and statues

Front of a church

Town square

Arrived at the Kingsgate Autolodge Hotel, checked in, and after settling in, managed to move out at about 4:30pm. Walk, snap pictures, walk some more, snap pictures, got lost, don’t care, snap more pictures, got hungry, camera battery went flat, no extra batteries on me, still haven’t had dinner, took out Lonely Planet guide for help, walked back in general direction of hotel, and found DINER!!

Ate at Rosie’s, if I remember correctly. Didn’t want fast food on my first day. Will take cheaper food later on. Even if I do fly 8000 plus kilometres to eat at McDonald’s. Or Burger King. Or Kentucky Fried Chicken. Well, ordered cajun fish (NZ19.95) with hot chocolate (NZ4.00) and garlic bread (NZ4.50). Don’t know why I ordered the garlic bread. Didn’t know that cajun fish dish came with garlic bread as well.

Finished my dinner, walked some more and returned to the hotel. All the while, winds in Christchurch were howling like werewolves during full moon. Now I know what biting cold feels like… The sky here only started to darken at about 8:30pm (about 7:30pm in Singapore), but it was drizzling. And the sky was cloudy all day. *sigh* At least it didn’t pour.

New Zealand Nov 2004 trip – Changi Airport

This is part of some travelling notes I wrote exactly 4 years ago for a trip to New Zealand in November 2004. Please enjoy the story.

My New Zealand vacation itinerary

05 November 2004, Friday

  • 8:25pm Singapore time, Changi airport, flight NZ82 from Singapore to Auckland (10 hour flight, 6 Nov 11:30am).

06 November 2004, Saturday

  • 1:00pm, Auckland domestic airport, flight NZ527 from Auckland to Christchurch (2:20pm).
  • 2:20pm, Christchurch airport, transport provided from airport to accomodation.
  • Stay at Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge.

07 November 2004, Sunday

  • Check out. Transport provided from accomodation to coach station.
  • 8:00am, coach drive from Christchurch to Dunedin (1:45pm).
  • 1:45pm, transport provided from Dunedin coach station to accomodation.
  • Stay at Cargills Motor Inn.
  • Free time in this afternoon and next morning.

08 November 2004, Monday

  • Check out. Transport provided from accomodation to coach station.
  • 1:55pm, coach drive from Dunedin to Te Anau (6:30pm).
  • Coach drive close to accomodation. Stay at Luxmore Hotel.

09 November 2004, Tuesday

  • 9:45am, check out. Picked up by coach.
  • 10:30am, coach drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound (1:00pm).
  • 1:30pm, Milford Sound cruise.
  • 3:15pm, coach drive back to Te Anau, and then to Queenstown (7:45pm).
  • Coach drive close to accomodation. Stay at A-line Hotel for two nights.

10 November 2004, Wednesday

  • One complete day free.

11 November 2004, Thursday

  • 7:10am, check out. Transport provided from accomodation to coach station.
  • 7:40am, coach drive from Queenstown to Fox Glacier (3:25pm).
  • Coach drive close to accomodation. Stay at Rainforest Motel for two nights.

12 November 2004, Friday

  • One complete day free.

13 November 2004, Saturday

  • 8:15am, check out. Picked up by coach. Coach drive from Fox Glacier to Greymouth (1:15pm).
  • 1:45pm, Greymouth train station, TranzAlpine Express from Greymouth to Christchurch (6:05pm).
  • 6:05pm, Christchurch train station, transport provided from train station to accomodation.
  • Stay at Cotswold Hotel.

14 November 2004, Sunday

  • 7:45am, check out. Transport provided from accomodation to airport.
  • 8:55am, Christchurch airport, flight NZ512 from Christchurch to Auckland (10:15am).
  • 1:00pm, Auckland international airport, flight NZ81 from Auckland to Singapore (10 hr 50 min, 6:50pm Singapore time).

Day 0, 05 November 2004, Friday

Standing just outside the Changi Airport check point, a well of excitement was waiting in the pit of my stomach, waiting to burst out and then I’ll embarrass myself. It’s my first time on an airplane!

I took hold of my passport and plane tickets (as constantly reminded by my dad and brother) and handed them over to the officer to check. And then I’m in. First time behind the check in line, so I went to look around all the hyped-up duty free shops at Changi Airport.

After walking a bit (not much anyway. Besides no money nor interest to buy the stuff), with a supposed 40 minutes before boarding, I glanced at the display board, and it shows my plane is on “LAST CALL”! Huh?! Hurry, hurry. Turns out, nothing much happening. What the?! The “LAST CALL” was in red, what was I to think?

In the waiting lounge, I watched people come and go, conversing with family or friends, fiddling with hand luggage, calming young children, talking on the mobile phone, and my favourite, staring into space. Finally, it’s time to go in. Got an aisle seat. Befriended the person next to me. He got the window seat (Oh…). Guess what? He’s a pilot! And he works for Air New Zealand. His name’s Richard, and he just came down from Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and now Singapore. Going back to his home in Auckland.

We talked, and he told me stuff about the plane operations, like what does this whirring sound mean, or that the air conditioning is temporarily switched off to divert more power to the turbines. Oh yeah, he’s reading Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code (great book), which was actually how I started the conversation with him. He came with his daughter, but couldn’t get the same flight back. His daughter got on the SIA flight instead.

The lift off was ecstatic! I could feel my internal organs swooshing in me… 🙂 It’s my first plane ride, so I took some notes. The flight speed goes up to 931 kilometres per hour. We flew as high as 10700 metres in the air (it was night, and I was on the aisle seat, so couldn’t see when we pierce through the cloud layer). And the temperature outside the plane can be as low as -58 degree Celsius.

I didn’t take the inflight dinner, in case my stomach cannot, uh, stomach the flying. On hindsight, that was the dumbest thing I’ve done (see future diary notes). I also couldn’t get comfortable, so not much sleep. At least they’ve got inflight movies: “Bourne Supremacy” and “Spiderman 2”. Cool. My seat was just three rows behind the business class. I didn’t know what pacific class means, but apparently it’s pretty good.