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Old 3rd January 2014, 14:10   #46
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Arrow Re: New Zealand: End to End

@ Prasad14: It was a one night stay there, as far as I know, the jades are as good as you get in other places, priced high, you need to be an expert to buy. We could the same in Sri Lanka Last year, unless you know someone on the inside or on the trade, recommend DO NOT BUY.

@ dar3dev|l: Thanks a lot. I am going back there some day, much more to see. Yes, I want this to be a reference point for those who want to do NZ, have done almost a year of research on the place and feel qualified to guide, more than many travel agents who do this destination.

============

What’s there to do in Greymouth? Plenty, as per the linky here:

http://www.newzealand.com/in/article...outh-must-dos/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greymouth
http://www.newzealand.com/in/greymouth/

The story of Greymouth would be so incomplete without mentioning Transalpine Railways, between Christchurch and Grenmouth. Ranked as one of the most scenic journeys in the world and a must do activity in NZ, this train chugs through breath taking vistas of the Southern Alps. You can do this as a day journey too, explore the many options, if you have the time to spare, do this. We skipped this, were short of time, surely would do it next time.

http://www.kiwirailscenic.co.nz/tranzalpine/
http://www.newzealand.com/in/article...e-tranzalpine/

There are a large number of walks in Greymouth, the entire west coast is a big walk anyway.

http://www.greydistrict.co.nz/place/...ing-greymouth/

Midland Line, is a different line of railways on the coast, goes from Greymouth to Rolleston, would follow you on your journey southwards, many spots are picture-postcard set ups, shutterbugs could spend a life time here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midland_Line,_New_Zealand

10-11-2013: Cold, cold morning, must be around 4, but the room heaters work very well.

Standard in most motels
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A visitor who was parking on the outside wall:
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Outside, layering of cloths works well too. 7 AM, boiled eggs, toast, jams, piping hot coffee, grapes, apples, bananas was the fare for breakfast! The kitchen was one of the biggest and most equipped so Anu enjoyed preparing the breakfast while I wandered outside to check it out.

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You can hear the sea in your backyard once you get out of the room, there were 2-3 guests, indicated by the cars parked there. Cleaned the car out, windows clean and went to the backyard. There’s a 20 feet lookout tower, a zip line, swings and a nice garden. From the tower you can all around, a nice spot for clicks. Soon I spotted a rabbit out for breakfast and many far away, there were birds on the beach, but no human being in sight. All you can hear is the surf and an occasional vehicle rushing past on the highway. You easily loose a day here, just chilling out.

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Our plan for the day was to hit Fox Glacier, 195 kms, 3 hours away, see the sights there and stay put for the day. Providance had other plans as the events turned out.

We checked out around 8, pulled out of a very nice Charles Motel into the Highway 6, the road hugging the sea on to your right and railway line on to your left. Yellow was the theme for NZ that time of the year, yellow carpet of flowers everywhere! We came to a bridge which was scary, Anu screamed for me to stop as there was a railway line on the bridge, she was imagining Rajadhani express bearing down on us! Took me by surprise too, was not prepared for it, did not come up anywhere on my research of the area, later in deeper work found what this line is all about. Looked carefully to ensure no trains are on track and crossed this lovely little bridge.This is one of the few operating rail-road bridges working over river Taramaka, the train slows down here and the motorists wait till it passes, have a look (not my video):



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We came across many beautiful scenes, stopped at few places for photo shoots, had a long day planned ahead, so pushed on towards
======

Last edited by ramkya1 : 3rd January 2014 at 14:34.
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Old 3rd January 2014, 17:18   #47
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Arrow Re: New Zealand: End to End

Punakaiki: Pancake rocks, Blowholes, Caves and a rugged coastline:



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Old 4th January 2014, 12:53   #48
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We come to the Kuma Junction, important from the point of view of road travellers. This is a critical junction when Haast pass is closed and you are stuck around here.

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On the left you have Christchurch road and if you want to drive to Queens town the choice is HW 73, Arthurs Pass, Darfield, HW 77 through Geraldine, HW 8 from Fairlie, Tekapo, Twizel, Q-town is 650 KMs, not to be done in one day, a tough ride. Alternative is to wait it out till Haast opens, in the past month there were many closures on this section. And if it’s open, it’s a clean run all the way with exciting roads.

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For those who get stuck here, Kumar junction is a choice with Theatere Royal Hotel, a hotel with a Indian name. Reviews are good for this place and Kumara Junction itself has lots of Gold mining history with tramping options.

http://www.theatreroyalhotel.co.nz/

We turn right towards Haast, reported to be open from 6 AM to 6 PM during this time, anyway our ride for the day is only about 170 kms down to Fox Glacier where we have a booking. We come to this place, we had to stop, tried to capture some of the beauty, photographs cannot do that. Well, get a load of this.

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We hit Hokitikka around 840 AM, fuel up and buy some provisions and are on our way.

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From here the road leaves the Tasman sea and sweeps left inland. Hari Hari is next at 0855, we’ve done 102 kms so far in 40 minuts with stops, was ripping all the way on the empty roads. From here you veer left towards Mt.Cook NP and come to one of the very few bad patches in our whole drive, the signages were there, the crew were working, looked bad, road was rough for about 5 kms. Mount Hercules is a famous cycle track and a base for many trekkers.

11 AM, 30 Kms on we come to Whataroa and stop on the road side for some snacks. We had corn and cakes, scene all around was captivating. Up ahead you could see the road snaking into the snow capped mountains, small town of Whataroa up and about in farming activity, a couple of dozers pulling logs in a farm nearby, dogs barking, sheep bleating and cows mooing! Not what you’d expect from a mountain base town.

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We also stopped at another place, a blue river on the right and black sands, needless to say beautiful.

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From Hari Hari onwards we had on and off rains and drizzles with low handing clouds, some sections also fogs. We could see the fog had closed out many of the snow caps and were hoping it would clear up for the Chopper flight we were planning to take. We skirt Lake Mapourika and reach Charles Court Motel, a Golden Chain one and knock on the door to check in quickly and go for a Fox Glacier Heli Hike.

========

Last edited by ramkya1 : 4th January 2014 at 13:10.
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Old 4th January 2014, 15:35   #49
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Arrow Re: New Zealand: End to End

Glacier View Motel, Franz Josef, was chosen because of reviews and the Golden Chain badge. The day was overcast, nothing visible on the horizon, no way the choppers would fly for the glacier view or snow walks.

http://www.glacierviewmotel.co.nz/

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We were planning on taking the 380 NZD chopper ride + hike to the glacier, pricey but reported to be the only way now of actually walking on the glaciers. There is also a trek option, guided trek to the base of the glacier, but they have stopped touching the glacier part, you can walk up and look around but not get a feel of the glacier.

http://www.franzjosefglacier.com/our...ier-heli-hike/
http://www.franzjosefglacier.com/

The Motel guy made a couple of calls to the Chopper operators, chances looked bad for the day and next as predictions were for fog, rain and poor visibility, no way we could spend a day here. With drizzles on and off, the hikes also looked problematic. The choice was to stay there and realax as we have already paid up or to forget the money and push off to Q-Town. We called up Q-town and they said, if we can reach, they can prepone the reservation, would be a tight drive, 350 kms, 5 hours drive and lots of things to see and do in between. We needed to choose fast, time was ticking fast forward.

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We decided to push on, let go of the bookings and save a day. In retrospect, that turned out to be a very good decision. As we could not see Franz Joseph, we decided to turn left into the Fox Glacier lookout point, about20 kms on. The big parking lot was almost empty, only stragglers, a couple of vehicles with a drizzle on and biting cold wind zipping by. The glaciers, mountains were blocked off by low clouds but the scenes were captivating.

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The Glacier was here, receded almost 10 kms now!!!

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We finish in 30 minuts, turn around and head out on SH6 Haast Highway. Light rain all the way, through thick forests, twisties, up and down through the beautifully signposted smooth tarmac, it was easy to make good time. We reach Knights point lookout, 100 kms onto our drive at 1220 PM. This was a the popular meeting point of road crews working on both sides of Haast pass when development was in full blast. Interestingly enough, the place is named after a dog that was owned by a road worker long back, as reported by another couple who were there with us. What a way to name a place!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight%27s_Point

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The sights from the lookout point were picturesque, worth spending time. We spent about 10 minutes there, the wind chill has increased, so had the speed of the wind. We rushed back to the warmth of the car heater.

This section of Highway 6 is reported to be one of the best, the road going through Mt. Aspiring NP.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_A..._National_Park

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Road follows Haast river for a long time, and reaches the Gates of Haast, a bridge, then Haast town and after that the longest one lane bridge of New Zealand. You can stop before the bridge and take a looped walk along the sides as many do.

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There are many attractions on this road, so make it a point to drive slow and easy and plan for at least 1 hour in each stop, ideally you should spend all day doing this. Must do things, Thunder Creek Falls, Fantail Falls, and Blue Pools.

http://www.exploring.co.nz/thunder-creek-falls.html
http://www.exploring.co.nz/thunder-creek-falls.html
http://www.wonderwalkers.co.nz/defau...-pools-walk.sm

We cross Haast town at 1245 PM and thunder creek falls at 0135 PM. The fall is accessed by a 5 minutes’ walk into the forest form the car park. It was freezing when we parked with a light rain, was difficult to leave the warmth of the car. Time to take the ponchos out and walk through, the walk was well marked and easy.

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The fall itself was beautiful, falling from about 100 feet into the blue Haast river, a captivating sight. We carefully took out camera form the rain guard, clicked some and pushed back, all this took about 20 minutes, but was worth the effort. On a clear day, with no rains in summer, this would be a great place to spend a day.
==========

Last edited by ramkya1 : 4th January 2014 at 15:42.
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Old 4th January 2014, 16:21   #50
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Default Re: New Zealand: End to End

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Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post


We decided to push on, let go of the bookings and save a day.
.
==========
Great TV, great info. Can't wait for April. Couple of questions:

1. I saw that there are a few attractions in Hokitika (especially the
Hokitika Gorge). Did you skip it or is it not as great as it is made out
to be?
2. In the 2nd photo, I see one arrow thinner and the other thicker. Does
it mean the vehicles in the direction of thicker arrow have right of
way? (Has it written "Give way" underneath the arrow?).

I'll PM you my current South Island plan based on your inputs. Please give your feedback.

Prasad
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Old 4th January 2014, 16:30   #51
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Arrow Re: New Zealand: End to End

The thinner arrow is the RED arrow, no right of way. The larger arrow has right of way, really no problem as traffic density is very low. You just have to watch out that there are no vehicles and move on.

Hokiitika is just another base town or branch off when Haast is closed. The whole West coast is full of possibilities for walks, hikes, tramping, cycling and all that is out door. But you have all that near Q-town, you may as well be near there or Wanaka and do them.

The gorge is like many there, like Buller river one way back. More interesting on this route are the walks and the 3 must do activities I have mentioned. Let me know you plan, I'd give my inputs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by prasad14 View Post
Great TV, great info. Can't wait for April. Couple of questions:

1. I saw that there are a few attractions in Hokitika (especially the
Hokitika Gorge). Did you skip it or is it not as great as it is made out
to be?
2. In the 2nd photo, I see one arrow thinner and the other thicker. Does
it mean the vehicles in the direction of thicker arrow have right of
way? (Has it written "Give way" underneath the arrow?).

I'll PM you my current South Island plan based on your inputs. Please give your feedback.

Prasad
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Old 12th January 2014, 11:44   #52
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Arrow Re: New Zealand: End to End

Been pretty busyÖ picking up where I left it long time ago.

On the way to the Blue pools, the next stop, we suddenly came across the famous/ infamous Haast pass which either makes life easy if you can cross it easy, or difficult if you have to detour 700 kms to go to Q town. Not much activity, a small crew manning it, did not look all that difficult. We could see some signs of a landslide that has been repaired. Having seen the size of the landslides and complexity of our Ladakh roads, this was an anti-climax! The Himalayan roads are much more difficult to maintain, repair with traffic density much more than Haast road, the dependence on human power with BRO much more quicker than the beasty dozers that we saw at many sites there. I am still left wondering why it is so difficult to maintain and keep it open 24x7. Could be their stricter standards of safety, low traffic density.. beats me! Before we could realize, the Haast Pass was over in 3 minutes, we had built such a big spectate of this piddly little pass all over the last 6 months!! An anti-climax of sorts!

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Blue pools is is 12 KM away form Haast passs, well marked by signages and a big parking spot by the side of the road. Itís a 30 minutes walk through the beech forest and a swing bridge. It was raining and cold and needed a lot of motivation to get out of the car, put on the poncho and walk the track. In the end we realized it was worth the walk, would have missed out on a great place if we had driven by.

The easy walk through the forest takes you down to the Blue river, the swing bridge over the river gives you lovely views of the swinging river, chewing out the edges, passing gently under the bridge. The walk is well maintained with an elevated wood track, the walk leads you to another bridge form where you can see the blue water under, in many places you can see the bottom clearly though it must have been more than 10 feet deep. You are left wondering how the water can be so blue, is there some trick to this, some color!! You have to see it to believe it, water can be so cobalt blue and crystal clear too. We were hoping to meet some of those trouts seen in the river, but could not find any, maybe not their day out.

It was drizzling in varying intensity on and off, taking the camera out was a risk, but how can you not click here? Not many tourists around, we walk down the river track and check out how cold the water is, very cold. We spend time listening to forest sounds, water sounds and bird calls all around. One can never get enough of this therapy.

http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-rec...e-pools-track/

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Old 12th January 2014, 20:14   #53
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Arrow Re: New Zealand: End to End

A clip I processed today during free time. First part at Charles Court Motel, Greymouth, the watch tower in the back and the drive from there to Hokitikka and Hari Hari.



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Old 13th January 2014, 13:35   #54
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Blue pools is is 12 KM away form Haast passs, well marked by signages and a big parking spot by the side of the road.
Blue pools are out of the world! Reminds me of Blausee in Switzerland. Keep them coming. My planning is stuck for the Invarcargill/Dunedin region pending your updates of the same!

Are there eateries (McDonald/Subway types) along major highways? Also is there a map that shows gas stations along the highways?

Prasad
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Old 13th January 2014, 13:47   #55
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Blue pools are out of the world! Reminds me of Blausee in Switzerland. Keep them coming. My planning is stuck for the Invarcargill/Dunedin region pending your updates of the same!

Are there eateries (McDonald/Subway types) along major highways? Also is there a map that shows gas stations along the highways?

Prasad
Blue pools are a knockout sight!! You have to experience it to realize the beauty.

No need to worry about Gas if you plan properly. Only on the West Coast you have problems, you have it at Greymouth, Haast, Wanaka, Te Aneu, Inver, Bluff, Dunedin and some more places in between, gas up when you come to half tank, you'd have a range of about 400 kms on most cars, so no worry. Most towns you pass will have dept stores which will have something to eat to pick up and also have free toilets. Proper eateries only in big town, need to carry something to eat on the way during the day drive / hikes etc.,

Like I PMed you, run from Milford straight o Inver, stay there if possible, do Bluff and then next day take the SSR route slow and easy till Dunedin, one day at Dunedin for the wildlife sights, drive to Chch and fly out. By this time you would have covered enough mountains, snows etc., that you can seriously consider skipping Mt. Cook area. I skipped it all together, needed some place to visit next time

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Old 15th January 2014, 09:33   #56
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Great going Ramkya1 .. Super stuff !

Looking forward for more
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Old 16th January 2014, 23:26   #57
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Great going Ramkya1 .. Super stuff !

Looking forward for more
Dar3dev: Thanks, one video for you and everyone.

Section from Fox Glacier to Jacobs River to Knights point to Haast and just crossing the longest single lane bridge in New Zealand. Many sections are arrow straight for KMS, you can easily hit 150 in no time..



==Ramky
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Old 17th January 2014, 13:41   #58
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Dar3dev: Thanks, one video for you and everyone.

Section from Fox Glacier to Jacobs River to Knights point to Haast and just crossing the longest single lane bridge in New Zealand. Many sections are arrow straight for KMS, you can easily hit 150 in no time..



==Ramky
--------
Very interesting that they have an expanded section on the middle of the bridge for vehicles to cross. I had read lack of traffic on highways especially in South Island, but never thought it would so sparse.

Keep them coming.

Prasad
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Old 18th January 2014, 18:42   #59
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@ Prasad: You'd probably need the expanded sections during the holiday season and need to be careful when you cross, could be tricky to back out if you don't plan the distances well. The traffic density is very thin, but during the holiday season it's reported to be heavy, the NZ meaning of heavy is our kind of light traffic

The traffic on this thread is thin too a monologue between you and me, practically. Hope people are enjoying the journey as much as we are doing!

=====

3 PM, we trek back in the drizzle to the Blue Pools Car park, happy the heater works well, turn it on and sit for some time. Blue pools to Queenstown would be about 2 hours, 140 km, so with a couple of stops through the Crown Range we’re looking at 8 PM at Q Town. Haast Pass Road, HW6 hugs the Makarora River for about 50 kms, winding sealed forest roads and then you would start seeing Lake Wanaka whispering through the woods on to your right, would disappear for a while.

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You climb a hillock, lo a behold, another Lake, Hewea stares on to your left! You just cannot drive away, the sight was so sudden and beautiful it takes your breath away. On the left he lake, on the right snowcaps, winding roads skirting the lake by the side of the mountain, you’re reminded of Gulmarg! So much of Kashmir right in front of you. So we stop, get out of the car and GAPED!!

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Gaping over, we drive down the road, hugging the mountain, the lake side and shores on your left was unending reels of heaven, you’d start to hum “Mere Sapno Ki Rani”! We stop one more time and go again on the Gaping act for 15 minutes. The lake side, snow caps on the horizon, ribbon of road shimmering down the hillock and disappearing into the ending day into another, gentle breeze blowing yellow flowering smells… just about made the day. The day has been one happy event after another, natures gallery for the connoisseur, its museum for the discerning!

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Me and Anu suddenly realize we can change the plan and stay over at Wanaka about which we have heard so much. It’s more beautiful than any other place in NZ, less touristy and only 30 kms away, the time hardly 4 PM, we decide it give it a jolly old college try.

The rest of the 20 minutes’ drive was slow, enjoying nature’s bounty, we cross Albert Town, come to the fork which says left to Qtown, which takes you through the Airport, Cromwell road which is the easy road. Anyway, we wanted to turn into Wanake so take the right, pass Puzzling world and come to Fairway Motels, room was available and we took it. The room and the kitchen were NOT one of the best we had used, they jacked us for 120 NZD, later found from Trip Advisor many paid only about 80-100!! So much for trusting honest Motels, when I posted the review about 120/- they also clean denied charging 120/- what a shame to think I would post an incorrect fact on rental! That said, place was OK for a night, they gave access near the pool for us to wash the car clean with hose, rags, pipes and all and the lady at the reception was smiling and courteous.

We call our Motel at Q-town and inform we're arriving the next day as per original plan, they appreciate small things like this there, and profusely thanked us for the information!! They usually prefer to close after 7 PM, so expect exact information on late arrivals.

Anu was feeling a bit worse for the weather and wanted to relax, I went out for a walk to the lake by about 7 PM. The lights of the lake were great to watch, but the whole place was deserted by 8, so got back. We cooked a great dinner of rice, sambar, vegetable curry, chips, icre caream and fruits, watched the news on the telly and called it a day at 10.

We had done 460 kms of one of the toughest sections on the West coast, took us almost all the day with stops and sights. I am sure if you start early you can follow our plan, spend a little more time in all the places we went on a dry day and make it to Wanaka by 7-8 PM, would be a great plan if you are pressed for time.

This was one of the most eventful and memorable days of our entire trip.

-Ramky
===

Last edited by ramkya1 : 18th January 2014 at 19:08.
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Old 18th January 2014, 19:48   #60
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Default Re: New Zealand: End to End

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
The traffic on this thread is thin too a monologue between you and me, practically. Hope people are enjoying the journey as much as we are doing!


===
I'm sure they are, thanks to stunning photos and great narration. Nevertheless, its definitely been a god send for me (and my family too
would promptly take a look at every post and getting little impatient
when we realize that April is still far away).

BTW, do you reco staying for a night in Wanaka or do Wanaka as a day trip
from Q-town? The only advantage I see staying in Q-town is that we can
sort of "settle" for 3-days in one motel, as against 1-day in Wanaka, pack-up and stay 2-days in Q-town, pack-up and move on. Also, how strict
are the motels w.r.t check-In/check-out timings - many seem to have a
10AM check-out and 2PM check-in?

Prasad
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