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Old 4th September 2013, 16:03   #1
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Default 100% Pure New Zealand EDIT: New Pictures on Page 2

Your journey starts beneath the southern skies

Plucked straight from a film set or a coffee-table book of picture-perfect scenery, New Zealand is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. 'Wow!' will escape from your lips at least once a day. It’s here that you’ll experience things you never thought possible. New Zealand is a mix of spectacular landscapes, cosmopolitan cities, and Maori culture offer a diverse range of unforgettable experiences, all delivered with the laid-back, friendly Kiwi hospitality. It is an island country in the Pacific Ocean with a waist size of less than 250 kms! You can cross the country from the West Coast to the East Coast in less than 3 hours! It is one of those geographically isolated countries which were last inhabited by humans due to which it has developed a large biodiversity of animal, fungal and plant life; most notable are the large number of unique bird species.

Self Drive-Self Planned-Self Organized Holiday


Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer

It all began when I was planning for a self-drive overseas holiday and Australia (OZ) was my first choice in the southern hemisphere owing to its vast size and beautiful roads. While researching and planning my OZ trip I came across many OZ people (a few of them were my friends living there) who were all praise for New Zealand (NZ) and many in fact recommended clubbing OZ tour with NZ. Once I went through online travel websites, I started to further like the idea of NZ. It looked like a perfect destination for a self-drive holiday. (The Icing on the cake was Indian Driving License was valid for driving in NZ the only condition being it should be printed in English.) It was one place where you can experience all the three seasons in a single day. There is a unique diversity, breathtaking landscapes, beaches, mountains, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, geysers and what not. The more I read about NZ, the more I liked the place. So the decision was made and NZ it was. Visa application process was a smooth one albeit number of documents required was very high. It was my first overseas trip so everything, every activity and every adventure was meticulously planned. Since me being a Research Analyst by profession, research began early about 6 months prior to departure. The most useful website proved to be https://www.tripadvisor.com/ and https://www.rankers.co.nz/. Most of us must be aware of the former website but it’s the latter that provided first hand local reviews about locations, activities, car rentals, etc.

Some of the other noteworthy NZ Travelogues on TeamBHP:PDI Checklist
  • Passport - Check
  • Visa – Check
  • Flight Tickets – Check
  • Hotel confirmations - Check
  • Driving License – Check (I had converted my license to smart card type especially for this trip)
  • Luggage - Check
  • Total luggage weight within limit - Check
  • Digital Duplicates - Check
  • Cameras - Check (Nikon D3100, Sony Digicam, iPhone 4)
  • Mobile Phones – Check
  • Chargers of all electronic devices - Check
  • GPS App on iPhone - Check
  • General Medicines - Check
  • Emergency phone numbers - Check
  • Dry snacks - Check
  • All Set!
Trip Begins

We left home in the middle of the night at 2am and after all immigration formalities and clearance boarded Singapore Airlines flight from Mumbai Airport. It was a never ending flight (18 hours flying time + 6 hours layover at Singapore.) Layover at Changi Airport was like spending time in a shopping mall. Best were the massaging chairs at regular distances to keep foot ache in check. Then we boarded the flight again for the onward journey and next 12 hours from Singapore to Auckland was a bumpy night. We encountered a lot of turbulence that night due to bad weather (worse part was we were seated in the second-last row of seats in the aircraft). Nonetheless, me and my wife had a broad smile when we saw the first glimpses of New Zealand. Our flight landed at Auckland Airport and there we saw one of the strictest Bio-Security measures at immigration. Kia Ora! They are very serious about protecting their agriculture and vegetation industry. After traveling for almost 30 hours (door to door) we crashed into our hotel beds with loads of Jet lag and fatigue.

Itinerary
  • Auckland (City of Sails)
  • Rotorua (Land of Geothermal Wonders)
  • Queenstown (Adventure Capital of the World)
  • Franz Josef (Glacier Region)
  • Christchurch (Earthquake capital of NZ!)
  • Kaikoura (Whale Watching)
Duration: Three Weeks

My Rides:


Kia Cerato 1.8 litre 4 Speed Automatic - North Island
Subaru Forester 2.5 litre 4 Speed Automatic - South Island
Luge Ride, Helicopter, Cruise Vessel, 500Bhp Jet Boat, 8-Seater Aircraft, Beechcraft 1900D, Boeing 777

Highlights of the Trip


When George Bernard Shaw visited New Zealand a reporter asked him his impression of the place and, after a pause, Shaw is said to have replied: "Altogether too many sheep" ....... George Bernard Shaw 1934.

Although the human to sheep ratio has changed over the last decade (1:20 earlier; 1:7 now), still the number of sheep living in NZ are far more than the number of humans. This country is dotted with thousands of sheep in its picturesque landscapes grazing under the sun. Visitor facilities are modern, road conditions are excellent and road discipline is second to none. Most of cars that I saw were fitted with bike racks indicating love for biking in this part of the world. I also came across many Harley Riders touring the country on these thumping monsters.

Kiwi hospitality deserves a special mention here since there was not a single soul in my 3 week stay of NZ that I came across as unfriendly or rude. People are warm and welcoming. We travelled places, met local people, ate and stayed with them in their houses (farm stay), bought stuff from road side stalls/shops, gave lift to hitch-hikers and explored everything we could possibly think of. Indians are well respected in this part of the world and we could sense that at a cultural event (Maori Hangi Dinner). At one instance when the GPS on my iPhone was not getting a lock, I asked a couple of locals for directions and he was more than pleased to offer me help, so much help that one can’t even expect in India. Everything in NZ is so pure and natural. The lush green landscapes, crystal clear waters, fresh unadulterated air, untouched beaches, and above all a positive energy which imbibes every traveler. Infact the government and local people propagate drinking water from any water body (river/lake) or tap.

Auckland offers the best shopping experience & Night life whereas Queenstown offers the best of adventure sports. Sky-Diving, Paragliding, River Rafting, 4WD Adventures, Caving, Canyoning, Luge, Balooning, kayaking, you name it Queenstown has it. Rotorua is a small town which literally smells of sulphur (due to geothermal activity). Franz Josef allowed us to experience one of the most magnificent glaciers and snow caves whereas Kaikoura offered us one of a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of mighty whales and dolphins in their wild habitat. Christchurch is where we stayed in a farm stay (Pete's Farm Stay) which was an experience in itself.

For all food lovers, NZ offers a multitude of options for eating out. Not a single day went where I had slept not getting anything that I wanted to eat. (Indian-Chinese, Punjabi, Continental, Italian, etc.). Infact we ate Wada-Pav and Bhel-puri at Queenstown, something which I hadn't even thought of! The cool climate combined by organic farm produce and of course the talented chefs at those restaurants ensured that I was not far away from home. It wouldn’t be an understatement if I say that I ate better Indian food that what I have ever eaten in Mumbai!

Accommodation:
  • Auckland: Skycity Grand Hotel
  • Rotorua: Novotel Lakeside Rotorua
  • Queenstown: Novotel Lakeside Queenstown
  • Franz Josef: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef
  • Christchurch: Pete’s Farm Stay
  • Kaikoura: White Morph
List of Activities Done:
  • Skywalk
  • Kelly Tartlon’s Underwater world
  • Skyline Rotorua- Gondola & Luge
  • Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park
  • Rainbow Springs
  • Maori Hangi Concert and Dinner
  • Skyline Queenstown- Gondola & Luge
  • Queenstown Garden
  • Milford Sound by Coach-Cruise-Fly
  • Shotover Jet
  • 4WD Nomad Safaris Skippers Canyon Tour
  • Kawarau Bridge Bungy
  • Thunder Jet
  • Franz-Josef Heli-Hike
  • ATV Quad-Bike Adventure
  • Whale watching tour
Route Order

>>Auckland to Rotorua by Cerato
>>Rotorua to Queenstown by Domestic Flight
>>Queenstown to Franz Josef by Forester
>>Franz Josef to Christchurch by Forester
>>Christchurch to Kaikoura and back by Forester

Review of my Rides:

Kia Cerato:
Perfect car size of Kiwi Roads since most of them are two lane roads without a divider in between. Slow to shift but ample torque available. Refinement levels decent.

Subaru Forester:
This one gave me a tough time navigating the twisting roads from Queenstown to Franz Josef. Body roll and wide body proved to be a not so engaging drive in the mountains. Actually you really dont need an SUV in NZ unless you want to do some serious offroading (which too is not covered by insurance).

Luge Ride: Nice sharp steering with direct feel of the tarmac. Its like a go-kart without and engine.

500Bhp Jet Boat:
The most thrilling ride which does 360degree spins too !

8-Seater Aircraft:
Had goosebumps in my stomach in this tiny aircraft.


Pictures

Disclaimer: I am a novice at photography so kindly excuse me for my average photography skills.



Auckland Airport
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The Skytower at night
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The Sky Jump
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The Skywalk -192 Meters in the air with no handrails
(I have a fear of heights, hence couldnt let go off the rope)
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My Ride for North Island
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Rotorua Farm Tour
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Ostriches were plenty
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Aah! finally convinced him
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This one was an isolated one
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Wild Boar
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Kiwi Farm
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One of the Juiciest and Tangiest Kiwis
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They were all over the place
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Some deers too
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View from my room, Lake Rotorua
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Maori People
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Scenic Lake Rotorua
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Queenstown ! The Best Place in NZ
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Breathtaking Mountains
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The biggest lake I have ever seen
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South Island offers multiple of such scenic spots every few kilometres, every spot being more scienic than the previous one
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My Best Pic
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Milford Sound
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Milford Cruise
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Panini Sandwich
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Bowen Waterfalls
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Stirling Falls, Milford Sound. Remember the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine? Wolverine escapes from the ‘Alkali Lake’ facility
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Real Discoveries Vessel
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Basking in the Sun
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Proud to see an Indian Flag up there
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Last edited by rahulsharma2008 : 6th September 2013 at 15:14.
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Old 6th September 2013, 10:48   #2
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Default re: 100% Pure New Zealand EDIT: New Pictures on Page 2

Pictures rarely do justice to the beauty of this place. Especially when I was just learning to use my Nikon D3100 DSLR Camera. I had bought this camera way before this trip so that I could explore all the features of this camera and get used to clicking in different conditions. But as Henry Cartier said "Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst"

The 8-Seater Aircraft
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Airborne
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Gigantic Rivers

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Eagle Eye's View
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Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
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The finest workers in stone are not steel or copper tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time - David Henry, Thoreau
100% Pure New Zealand EDIT: New Pictures on Page 2-chasm.jpg

Kawarau Bungy Brigde
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Landside prone area of the mountain
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Nature is often hidden, sometimes overcome, seldom extinguished
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Iconic Bridge of South Island
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Delicious Fruits for Breakfast
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Circuit for Luge Ride
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The Chopper
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Franz Josef Glacier
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Glacial Ice
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Dust all the way from Australian Deserts
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Our guide making way for us to go down the crevass

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Ice Cave
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Hangi Dinner

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Time to fill her up again
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He loved the ride (It was the milder version of the Jet Boat in Lake Wakatipu)
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Picture Perfect
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Pizza Perfect
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Hey did you see my clothes?
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Devastated by Earthquake
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My Friend Pratik Gandhi during his Skydive
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Last edited by rahulsharma2008 : 6th September 2013 at 15:16.
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Old 6th September 2013, 11:01   #3
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Shotover Jet in Full Glory
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Maneuvering through the Shotover River
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From left to right: Mr. & Mrs. Pancholi, My Better Half & myself; Our
Irish friends Aine and Enda; Our Guide in the background (looks like Andrew Symonds )

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Team work saw us through in Grade 4 & Grade 5 rapids
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Path of Shotover Jet
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Bungy point
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Thats Pete's Farm and his house http://www.petesfarm.co.nz/
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Closer look at his house
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And Thats Pete
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Showing his skills
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The Alpacas
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The Sheep Dog

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Doing his duty (not seen in this pic)
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Road ki... har mod pe....
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Common sight in this part of the world
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Agrodome Show
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A Sandwich which had more fries than sandwich
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Grounded due to rough weather... err... watered due to rough weather
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Water is the driving force of all nature.
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Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.
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Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but you can see the world.
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Bold & Beautiful
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If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to it
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The mountains are calling and I must go.
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No other man-made device since the shields and lances of the ancient knights fulfills a man's ego like an automobile.

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Apex - One of the best car rental companies

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Couldnt get enough of these
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A Beautiful sunset that was mistaken for a dawn.

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These three weeks were like an unfolding dream. Never a moment went by where there was a dull moment. Of course the painstaking homework and planning helped me achieve this level of satisfaction, it was heightened by the fact that this was my first international trip and that too on my honeymoon.

Kia Ora Bhpians !

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Old 6th September 2013, 16:07   #4
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Default re: 100% Pure New Zealand EDIT: New Pictures on Page 2

Thread moved from the Assembly Line.


"100% Pure" -- The words are very apt for a place like New Zealand. Thanks for sharing the lovely travelogue.
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Old 6th September 2013, 16:16   #5
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Default re: 100% Pure New Zealand EDIT: New Pictures on Page 2

Wonderful Pictures Thanks for a lovely travelogue. Could you please let us know on the availability/variety of Veg Food in New Zealand?

Last edited by Prodigy07 : 6th September 2013 at 16:18.
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Old 6th September 2013, 16:43   #6
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Default re: 100% Pure New Zealand EDIT: New Pictures on Page 2

Beautiful Pictures Rahul, and you call yourself a Novice! We hope these are just the teasers!! Please do share more details of the adventure activities done, we did sky diving last month in Cape Town South Africa and it was an unbelievable experience!!

Look forward to more!
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Old 6th September 2013, 19:50   #7
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Default re: 100% Pure New Zealand EDIT: New Pictures on Page 2

Hi Rahul,

Some amazing clicks there! sure you are above the novice level. Truly enjoyed reading your logs.

Could you please share the expenses incured on local stay and travel ?

Regards
Diesel

P.S :: Awaiting more pics
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Old 6th September 2013, 20:12   #8
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Default re: 100% Pure New Zealand EDIT: New Pictures on Page 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahulsharma2008 View Post
It was a never ending flight (18 hours flying time + 6 hours layover at Singapore.)
Wonderful travelogue with great pictures and narration Rahul!

Is that the MUM->SIN flight for 18 hrs? I am surprised. I used regular between Chennai->SIN which was just 3.5 hrs. I thought, add ~2.5 hrs to it for MUM->SIN.

Did you venture into SIN city? SIA provides a transit visa and free tour around the city if your layover is more than 6 hrs or so.
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Old 6th September 2013, 20:20   #9
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Wonderful travelogue with great pictures and narration Rahul!

Is that the MUM->SIN flight for 18 hrs? I am surprised. I used regular between Chennai->SIN which was just 3.5 hrs. I thought, add ~2.5 hrs to it for MUM->SIN.

Did you venture into SIN city? SIA provides a transit visa and free tour around the city if your layover is more than 6 hrs or so.
Thank you BusyBoyKK. MUM-SIN flight is 6 hours. SIN-AUCKLAND is another 12 hours. So the total flying time is 18hours. I just explored the Changi Airport in my layover of 6 hours.
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Old 6th September 2013, 21:28   #10
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Default re: 100% Pure New Zealand EDIT: New Pictures on Page 2

No wonder NZ is called paradise on earth! Buddy, thanks a lot for sharing such a wonderful log. The pictures are outstanding. Please share maximum pictures .

And thanks for the other 3 trip logs. I wasn't aware of them .
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Old 6th September 2013, 21:34   #11
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Absolutely lovely set of pics! Loved the travelogue. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 6th September 2013, 22:27   #12
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Originally Posted by Prodigy07 View Post
Wonderful Pictures Thanks for a lovely travelogue. Could you please let us know on the availability/variety of Veg Food in New Zealand?
I am glad that you liked the travelogue. Availability of Veg Food is not at all a problem in NZ. At every location that I went except Franz Zosef I could easily find 3-4 options all serving pure vegetarian food. In Franz Josef there is only one Indian Restaurant which serves authentic vegetarian food. It is called Priya Indian Restaurant and is run by an Ahmedabadi along with his family.

While booking my hotels, I ensured that at all places I booked hotels which were walkable distance from these Indian Restaurants.

I hope I have been helpful.

Happy to see an Ahmedabadi Gujju-Bhai in the small village of Franz Josef
100% Pure New Zealand EDIT: New Pictures on Page 2-img_0774.jpg
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Old 7th September 2013, 08:19   #13
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Originally Posted by Dodge_Viper View Post
And thanks for the other 3 trip logs. I wasn't aware of them .
Sorry I didn't get you. What did you mean by "other 3 trip logs"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dieseltuned View Post
Hi Rahul,

Some amazing clicks there! sure you are above the novice level. Truly enjoyed reading your logs.

Could you please share the expenses incured on local stay and travel ?

Regards
Diesel

P.S :: Awaiting more pics
Credit goes to the beautiful locations and landscapes as well as my DSLR for such pictures. I am glad that you liked reading my log. I will be posting more pictures soon.

I stayed in 4 and 4.5 star hotels in most of the places and the average expense of stay per night worked out to be INR 12k/Night. International Return Flight costed me about Rs. 1.20lakhs for two persons. In addition to this I had taken a domestic flight from Rotorua to Queenstown which costed me about Rs. 30k for two people.

I hope I have been helpful.
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Old 10th September 2013, 09:05   #14
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Default re: 100% Pure New Zealand EDIT: New Pictures on Page 2

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Originally Posted by Maverick5490 View Post
Beautiful Pictures Rahul, and you call yourself a Novice! We hope these are just the teasers!! Please do share more details of the adventure activities done, we did sky diving last month in Cape Town South Africa and it was an unbelievable experience!!

Look forward to more!

Adventure activities are plenty in the whole of New Zealand whether it is land, water or air. Everything is done in a highly professional way and you can even book online in advance (usually you dont need to for most of the activities since most of them can be bought off the shelf). We did a host of activities as I mentioned. Following are the details:

List of Activities Done:
  • Skywalk - Done at Auckland- You can view the whole of Auckland from one place.
  • Kelly Tartlonís Underwater world - At Auckland. You get to see some exotic fishes and penguins
  • Skyline Rotorua- Gondola & Luge - Luge Ride was fun.
  • Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park - Pat a Lion Cub and feed Huge Lions.
  • Rainbow Springs - Rotorua, Beautiful springs and rainforest.
  • Maori Hangi Concert and Dinner - Cultural show
  • Skyline Queenstown- Gondola & Luge - Best views
  • Queenstown Garden - Nice evening walk
  • Milford Sound by Coach-Cruise-Fly - Largest Fjord of NZ Breathing taking mountains. World Heritage Site
  • Shotover Jet -Superb fun.
  • 4WD Nomad Safaris Skippers Canyon Tour - Queenstown
  • Kawarau Bridge Bungy - Queenstown
  • Thunder Jet - Lake Wakatipu
  • Franz-Josef Heli-Hike - Refer pics
  • ATV Quad-Bike Adventure - Tour through rainforests and slush n mud
  • Whale watching tour - Kaikoura
The most FFM (Fun for Money) activities turned out to be the Bungy Jump and River Rafting and the best experience turned out to be Whale Watching off Kaikoura.
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Old 10th September 2013, 11:36   #15
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Join Date: Oct 2009
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Default re: 100% Pure New Zealand EDIT: New Pictures on Page 2

Dear Rahul,

Thank you for a pictorial delight of NZ-your narrative is spot on too. A little details of the cost of all-hiring of cars, the various places stayed at and the activities. Reason -can it be fitted into a budget?? If its possible please do intimate.

Jude
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