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Old 8th December 2013, 00:31   #1
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Default New Zealand: End to End

What do you get when you go to Kiwi land from Gujarat, do an end-to-end drive with the help of great Gujju friends? Guwied!! Well… that’s what happened.

End to end, it has to be.

The very north end:

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And the South end... coming.

NZ has been on bucket list for some time, been researching on the options, route plans, costs and timings for 2 years. The travelogues, forums and tit-bits of information collected and collated would fill Terra space, usual practice before any road trip abroad. After this trip realized suddenly, no need not spend so much time, all I’d need is a good map, reading from some active forums, sample itineraries and information on places of interest around where you plan to stay put. You land, there are great maps available free at airports, you go to any hotel / motel they'd give you every map free, you go to any NZ I-Site, you'd get all the information you need.

The red lines our route and the blue dots where we stayed...you get the drift?

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Annual holidays are around Diwali, max of 3 weeks and synchronizing that with the leave with Anu’s, my wife’s, has been becoming harder, she becoming busier in her job as Principal of a big school, but we did manage it in the end. With both children grown up and gone from home, the task is less complicated now, we need to only worry about ourselves, less expensive too. I know what everyone wants to know, how much did this cost you? Flight, stay, food, whiskey for me and water for my horse etc., … will flow later.

The Planning Part: Last year the planning for NZ was fully on, the world rugby competitions in Auckland pushed up costs sky-high and we had did a detour to Sri Lanka, a wonderful 3 week tour. AA map book I got form ebay of NZ helped a lot to freeze route plans, forums at Trip Adviser answered most of my questions on live status and the rest from my good friend Bhavin Vagela in Auckland, working for a travel agency. His guidance on using Motels, what to buy, telephone cards and survival tricks saved us lots of money. He was a life saver and an awesome host, any which way you look at it. Received us at the airport, was there on call to clarify our sometimes stupid questions and take care of the loose ends. Using his car to the North Cape trip and understanding the driving conditions / rules etc., helped us plenty when we got our own hire car, driving in NZ is slightly different than in UK or other places, especially the T Junction right turn rules, the give way rules, take a look at the official site, not to worry, once you’re there, it’s simple: http://www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/arou...user-rule.html

My leave sanctions took time, so could not commit on the air ticket in time, when it did come through, the most economic option was through Delhi-Bangkok-Auckland through Thai Airways. The best deal for self-drive car rental turned out to be Apex, pick up from Auckland and drop off at Christchurch, they are the only agency allowing transport of the car form north to south island free and you can also book the passage online with them for yourself.

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We took the intermediate Toyota Corolla hatch 1.8 ltr petrol MANUAL, as we wanted that extra power to do the twisties and hill climbs of NZ + the little extra space and driving comfort, turned out to be a good choice as there were wet twisties, the car powerful enough to do what we wanted and more. Some specs would be interest to petrol heads: Euro 4, 55 ltrs tank, VVTi DOHC engine, Max Toruqe 175 Nm @ 4400 rpm, 13.7 km/ ltr claimed ( with the rpm on 3K + most of the time, got around 11.5-12 kms) ABS with brake assist, Electronic Brake force Distribution, Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control. The only thing that was unexpected was the only CD player, period!!! We bought a re-writable CDs from Auckland and burned the music on the go as per need… there’s a solution to what Toyoto cannot solve!

The full cover insurance gave peace of mind, one should not even think of anything less when driving outside India. If you have any doubts, check out travel websites, blogs etc., an uncovered accident is the last thing you want on a holiday. The GPS we hired was accurate and ensured a stress free drive.

Many advised against using a GPS there as a droid with google or Sygic would be enough, not too many roads and few cities. With low population, connectivity only in and around major cities and not all operators covering the entire country, we were glad we used the GPS, got us to where we wanted and quickly re-calibrated routes with voice guidance, worked like a charm for us.

Before we started we had everything ready, tickets, visa, booking vouchers, car rental documents, ferry tickets from North to South Island, Booking for a night at a hotel in Bangkok on the way back, we were all green to go by 26th Oct. for the trip from 2nd to 21 November, 2013.

The googly came from the blue! Health! I had fully ignored my Kidney stones, been on medicines after Lithotripsy 3 months back thinking all the stones are gone and the medicines would do the trick. On 26th night, got the colicky bolt on the left flanks, rushed to the hospital, got the ultra sound, x rays etc., done, the 5.5 mm stone on the right kidney has come down and got stuck at a place where litho is not possible, it could go out on its own or stay there as long as it want! Choice no. 1, go to NZ with the stone, take my chances, if and when the pain does strike, take medicines hoping that would cover it!! Did not want to take the chance, pain can wreck a holiday, it could be unbearable, NZ roads are lonely, no immediate help in emergencies and medical facilities not one of the best. The Stone had to be operated away!! Decision dilemma!! On 27th if I am operated under General Anesthesia, I could be discharged on 28th, need to rest for a day and needs to rest till 1st and fly out on 2nd, all in 4 days!! Everyone including the doctor advised doing the operation, cancelling the trip, I decided to take the bull by the horns, told I’d scuttle the trip, but did not cancel anything, only my wife knew how stubborn and single-tracked I could get, may times stupid and risky, but most times in my life and career that has worked. I was not going to spoil the track record for a piddle little stone!

On 27th 11 AM, the operation was done at 1100 AM, I was on bed with a catheter spewing blood and debris into a urine bag with an IV on till 0800 PM, when the IV was off, was trying to walk as much as I can, 28th the blood and debris reduced into the urine bag, by 11 AM full breakfast, walking as much as I can to gain strength, by 1 the catheter off my shaft but still pissing blood, almost crying every time I urinated with the burning, all I could see was the wide open roads of NZ and the driving wheel in my hand. By 29th the pain was still on but urine almost clear, the doctor said I am good to go provided I wouldn’t do any strenuous activities and take my anti-biotics and medicines on time for the next 10 days. I assured the doctor and my wife, I would be a passenger for the whole trip and would not try any jumps or adventure activities. If they had known my actual plans, I would have been strapped to the bed right there!

At this stage, it would be relevant to talk of Burt, a real-life hero for me, someone who continues to inspire me. What’s the connect, you might be tempted to ask, to which I say, patience for the next 2 minutes. His life and times are captured in the film “World’s Fastest Indian” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0412080/ , awesome depiction by Antony Hopkins, many of you must have seen this film. If not, please do. Burt Munro put Invercargill, New Zealand on the world map by breaking world’s fastest land record on a bike at Bonneville Salt Flats in the US. What’s inspiring for me is how even at an age of 65 years you can nuke all challenges if you are driven by a dream and focused on the objective. I have used this film for sales teams as a motivational tool and found it to be very effective. If Burt did what he did at 65, I should be able to overcome my post-op trauma, go on a planned trip to NZ and at least go visit his place in Invercargill. On 30th, I was in office, sometimes feeling pain, sometimes giddy but pushed on and took longer rest in the evening, by 1st evening I was good to go, so I told my wife, relatives and friends, I was still needing pain-killers, urinary alkalizes, giddy on exertion and not 100% !! Burt said, “If you don't go when you want to go, when you do go, you'll find you've gone”

You might notice, my T-logs would have too much details, a pain to some readers, a one stop shop for those who want to travel the destination. Being vague has not been one of my virtues, being a nut the compulsion to chronicle nuts and bolts is strong. The following websites and agencies are very responsive, will give you all information you want for a travel and are selected by me out of a long listt. The Kiwi combo pass is interesting and some of the hotels they use, golden chain of motels are great value for money, check out all of them, we used a couple of them. Here's enough for your basic research:


Very important if you’re planning to drive South Island. To cross mountain passes, you must check this site in winter/ rains before driving out:

On how to cross on the ferry with / without your car:

More on next one….

You cannot imagine the time and effort it takes to organize snaps, optimize it, upload it, write the story an tag it one by one.... Phew!! Once it's finished it's a load off the mind and hopefully remain here when we are pickled.

Last edited by ramkya1 : 8th December 2013 at 19:41.
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Old 8th December 2013, 18:29   #2
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Default Re: New Zealand - End-To-End - Auck- Kaitaia

Visa to NZ is easy, would take about 15 days, you need to apply through official fees 6800/- + about 1000 if through an agent. In india it’s handled through global visa who liaisons for them: http://www.globalvisa.in/visa.html, clean, fast service. More information here: http://newzealand.govt.nz/

Went through my usual agent at A’bad, Harshal who handled the travel insurance (Bajaj) which covers sickness, travel delays, lost baggage and a range of things. I’d recommend this strongly, a few years back at Bintan Islands, Indonesia, I had stomach cramps, had to be in the hospital, insurance picked up the cost. With uncertain climate, flight delays and so many unknowns, insurance makes sense.

What to wear was another calculated decision. November is a shoulder period, layers was recommenced. What layer? We’re not used to layering, so the list, culled from many blogs, was a puzzle.
  • 1 Rainproof jacket ( used ponchos we bought in Sri Lanka last year, light weight, easy to use)
  • 1 Warm jacket ( decided against it, too heavy, used layering effectively)
  • 2 Jeans, one light pants (wet jeans do not dry easy so need an extra)
  • T-shirts (carried 6 light ones)
  • 1 or 2 light jackets ideally with fleece ( bought a Nike moderate fleece jacket)
  • 1 thick sweater/jumper (marino was the recommendation, but light weight Park Avenue was OK – did not used much)
  • 1 Tracksuit (if you trek a lot, also useful for the night)
  • Socks ( Cotton does not dry easily, so cotton mixed ones)
  • 1 or 2 Swimwear and towel (Water was cold, we were happy with the hot water in the showers)
  • Sandals with heel harness (need for trekking)
  • Light , sturdy shoes (Nike, though expensive is very light and tough)
  • Caps with ear muffs (was very useful, cold wind was a razor)
  • Gloves ( light cotton ones, had to use it in windy hilly places)
You can have 4 seasons in one day there! A cold spell can roll from down below and change weather all in 1 hour. Rain gear is a must and so is snow in winter. Rain was the biggest worry for us, the passes in South Island could close and detours long and painful. We were lucky the weather Gods smiled on us, we had light rains, only a few places were closed due to weather, all passes opened up for us. Dig here for more:


The Plan: Wanted to cover the northern most end to the southernmost end of the islands, drive to places enroute and see what’s possible in between. North end was tricky, the 90 mile beach cannot be driven on rentals, would ideally need a 4x4 and time was limited. Link:


Bhavin came to the rescue, said he’d come with us for the first 3-4 days and we could take his car on the 90 miles beach. Once we come back to Auckland, I could pick up the rental and drive rest of the way on my own, sounded like a good plan. The map below would also show places where we touched and the drive route.

On 2nd morning we caught the flight A’bad-Delhi and from thereon to Bangkok at 11 AM, next flight form there at 0500 PM, 16 hours. Reached Auckland at 0200 PM, was exhausting, some reports say jet lag log more likely as you fly against the spin of earth, disorientation more pronounced. I stayed off alcohol on Thai Air, did not want anything to gum-up our drive. Bhavin picked us up at 2, we checked in at Park Lane Motell, http://www.parklane-hotel.co.nz/, we were so groggy we skipped lunch and crashed at 3 PM, when we woke up it was 9 PM, Anu was out for the count! Was hungry, a bottle of milk was all I could find on the fridge and again went to sleep.

If you read discussion forums, there’s a lot said about sleeping long to fight off jet lag, I found merit in the argument. In most cases of tourist accident, jet lag was a common factor, it kills. Don’t underestimate it, on any flight longer than 10 hours, it would be best to sleep off before you get behind the wheels in an unknown place. The sleep did a world of good for us, we were fresh and famished by morning!

04-12-2013: Auckland – Kaitia – As per plan, Bhavin came in his Mazda, 2WD at 0700 AM. The looks of the auto tranny Capella is deceptive, packs a punch though a little slow off the block with a cavernous boot that can take an elephant. Into it was packed Bhavin’s moving kitchen, tent and survival rations, that car can feed 4 adults for 3 days in any condition. In the last 6 months, only on week-ends Bhavin has burned 20 K kms, lots of driving and how. With him was another friend, Kurti, doing his internship in Auckland, staying with Bhavin for 2 months now, turned out to be great company. Plan was to drive as far as possible for the day, see sights on the way and stay for the night midway. One way to Cape 460 KMs, 8 hrs drive, not good on the first day, there are many stops on the way. Bhavin is an experienced driver, knows when to speed and when to tow the line. Me and Anu could see the general rules of driving there and I did about 3 hours after the first 300 KMS.

A bit about motels before we move would be of interest. During my room research found decent hotels in the range of 100NZD per day, but breakfast about 15 D per day person, 2 persons, 2 major means would zap you for 50-100, expensive! A decent motel would cost 100-120 per day, would have a kitchen in it, we saved lots of money with motels. You can cook what you what, restaurants can never give you that, they don’t have the masalas you use. Most motels we went were fully equipped; all you need to carry are provisions which is very economic form Department stores. More on this later.

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First round, the sights of the town at Auckland, the Sky tower and the waterfront. Bhavin explained the important streets, the daily life as he sees it and the wild weekends (he is a bachelor.. with lots of friends) I am sure did left out the juicy parts as my wife was with me! Spent some time near the Tower, waterfront and wanted to be off ASAP out of town.

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On SH1, on the toll road, through the tunnel, we whizzed past Albany, Westford and took left at Brynderwyn Junction HW12 towards Dargaville. When you hire car, inform them you’re going north on SH1, they’d tell you how to pay the toll, south of Auckland, no problems.

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HW12 is more scenic, back country and low chances of a police patrol, you can make time, Bhavin was soon averaging 100+, carefully judging the straight and when there’s no car in sight. The police cars are usually marked, black or stripes with lights, if you see them, stick to limits, on plain straight roads, you can risk it. This strategy worked for us throughout the trip, except for a stupid mistake on my part and got caught on the highway.

We were zipping through farm country, all green, green and green. Throughout the trip we did not find any sheep/ cattle on the road, most of them are fenced in, electrified. The whole route till Kaittaia is full of walks of different lengths, difficulties and terrain. After Paparoa, there’s a nice Kauri Museum, we pushed on as we will see the Mama of a tree soon. We paused in many places, had breakfast, bought provisions and filled gas, time passed by and miles few by. Photos will tell story.

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Pit stop, Dargsville, Waipur Forest, twisties, hills, greens, rivers, farms, engine hum, soft Kishore Kumar songs, stretching ribbons of tarmac, no traffic, more green, lovely country side, the heart would fill, soul would lift, lips would hum akin to Nirvana! We reach the above of Tena Mahuta, the giant. Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C4%81ne_Mahuta

You walk down the path through thick growth, damp greens and suddenly it’s in front of you. It hits you like a bolt, you stand with your mouth open and say “what the heck” Few tourists, 4 of us just sat on the railing and gazed at the tree, soon few more came by. We did the mandatory photos, 30 minutes and moved on.

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Last edited by ramkya1 : 8th December 2013 at 19:00.
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Old 8th December 2013, 19:05   #3
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Default re: New Zealand: End to End

Stopped at Te-Uru Recreation Reserve, awesome spot for walks, spending a day or just passing time. Cannot describe the beauty, may be photos can say part of the story...

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The water filling exercise... buying water is expensive, you can drink it straight from taps in motels, or boil it and take it, Bhavin had a 20 ltr can.
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The water drinking exercise..
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30 mts, on the move again, after Kaikhoe Bhavin turned off to Ngawha Springs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ngawha_Springs little know to tourists but popular with locals. If you have lots of time, you can spend a full day here at the many mineral pools at just 5$ a day! Bhavin says a hot dip here keeps the skin tingling for a long time and cleans it deep, was a nice find, we decided to come back if time permits as hitting the North Cape was priority No.1.

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It was 3 PM, hunger pangs were tolling, we said Stop! Bhan said, hold on, kitchen coming up. We pulled off the highway, the boot kitchen was open, the front doors open to fend off wind, vegetable cut, Indian curry+ noodle made in 15 minutes! It was one of the most enjoyable lunches in a long long time.
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Kawa Kawas was next to come, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kawakawa,_New_Zealand known for the vintage railway and cranky toilet built by Hunderwasser. Nice little town to visit, different and artisty with a population of 1400. The Northland is the least urbanized with a total population of about 1.7 Lakhs in such a vast area. Most people are of Maori linage and rest of British, you hardly see people once you leave small towns, compared to India, it’s starved of people.

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Bhavin posing at Kawa Kawa

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It’s about 6 PM and me and Anu were still feeling the effects of time lag while Bhavin and Albert were eager to go. We worked out the solution, while we will take a Motel, they would wander off and camp out for the night. Soon found a motel http://www.northerner.co.nz/ and parted company for the day. Motel was not good, thin partitions, lucky we had neighbors, looked like a relic from Victorian era and the receptionist was doing nails most of the time we saw her. Hot water, noodles and fruits, milk / hot chocolate was all we needed for dinner.

So ended day 1 of the trip.

Last edited by Rehaan : 17th December 2013 at 15:48.
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Old 9th December 2013, 00:21   #4
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Default re: New Zealand: End to End

05-11-2013: Kaitaia – Cape Reinga – Auckland: Rise and shine, cold morning with a cutting wind, drizzles and Bhavin calls in form the parking lot at 0700 AM. They had a great camping night at the nearby Ahipara Beach and got inside a friendly camper, that’s another story how they lost car keys and searched for it at 3 AM in the morning, Albert would never forget it in a long long time, I sure. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahipara

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Pack, move and…already hungry, it must be the time difference. We plan to do a distance of 110 kms about 90 mts. The rain picks up on and off, dark clouds on bolts out the sky but opens up now and then. The land opens up, now a narrow strip finishing off at Cape Reinga. The landscape is breathtaking in a barren way, greens, twisting roads, ups and downs, sometimes the ribbon disappearing into the distance. An occasional vehicle, tourist coach and farmers is all you see. At intervals, you can see on the road side small boards which advertise farming products left on the roadside, not manned. You pick up eggs, fruits, vegetables and deposit the cash on the box, works on trust. We picked up fruits for breakfast along with supply of milk and biscuits, more than enough to start the day.

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Old 9th December 2013, 00:23   #5
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Default re: New Zealand: End to End

This is a very important place for the Maori people, they believe the spirit of the dead enter the other world form here, read more


We stop at many observation points, the wind is fast and sharp, temp down to 7 now, you need all the protection you can get, but the feeling is one of frozen freedom. We reach the reception centre around 10AM at the cape and then the long walk to the light-house, the northern most part of NZ, a symbolic touch point for our trip. Rain would have ruined the trip, a walk on a cold, windy, wet day is not OK for a holiday, but rains stopped in time when we stopped at the car pack for the next 1 hour when we got back to the car, thank you Lord Varuna.

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We spend an hour walking, photographing and walking back, the wind picks up speed, it was an effort to stand still near the light house, I understood then how camper vans and cars gets flipped and why they stop traffic on these roads when the wind picks up speed, could be scary when weather Gods are on the wrong mood.
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Noteworthy to mention that Albert is quiet an Athlete, works out 2 hours a day, can do back flips, cartwheels and some more, only if you insist. He loves to climb, jump and flip just to keep those muscles toned, his sense of humor gels well with us, nice guy to have on a tour with you.

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Picking Avacado fruits on the way back
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We drive off the main road and head right towards the 90 mile beach, gravel road, and then the beach after 5 KM, not wise to drive without back up or 4W drive, we vote to take the tarmac, common sense need to win in the end.

This road leads to the 90 mile beach
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Dead fish does stink, Bhavin realizes late after posing ..
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Around 11, we drive back, now all energies to get back to Auckland, 420 kms away and maybe a quick stop for lunch. I take over the wheel for a spell to give relief to Bhavin, SH1 is clear and fast, we’re at Whangeri by 230 PM. Bhavin calls in his friend who owns an Indian Restaurant to pack some food, we collect it and go to the public park around 3, great place for a lunch.

Yummy Indian food at Whengeri pronounced Fangeri
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That was a life saver, Rotis, rice, paneer curry and dal makhani, manna from heaven for starving people. Given a choice, I would have slept on the grounds there, stomach was full, good food, good friends, perfect weather, but we needed to reach back as next day Bhavin had to join duties.

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We hit the some traffic of Auckland around 6 PM, phoned a family friend of ours who has bought a house there and fixed for a late meet at his house by 9 PM. We were dropped at our Hotel to freshen up.

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By 8 again we were on our way to our friend’s house overlooking the harbor, lovely house, lovely couple, had a couple of quick drinks and called it a day. Got back to the hotel around 11 and hit the sack. Was a very tiring day, lots of walking, lots driving and lots of ground covered. Next day on, we’d be on our own, a freedom of sort we were looking forward to.

Last edited by ramkya1 : 9th December 2013 at 01:44.
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Old 9th December 2013, 14:35   #6
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th December 2013, 15:46   #7
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This seems like an epic trip. New Zealand is indeed an amazing country to tour. We did South Island on a motorbike last year and it was sure a lil on the expensive side, but worth every penny

Thanks for sharing and I am tuned in.
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Old 10th December 2013, 13:07   #8
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A very good friend, after reading this T-log told me to reduce content, ideally to 10 lines and 10 snaps!! OK, people don’t have lots of time and bandwidth to read exhaustive T-Logs. Will try from this post onwards, would be a shame, there’s so much information and photos to share. Will now answer specific questions, keep the story bare-bones.

06-11-2013: Auckland – Waitomo – Rotorua: We pick up our car from Apex Rentals, the best in NZ,


Bhavin takes us to an Indian stores selling curries, provisions and we stock up for the next 3-4 days, buy calling mobile cards with data and say good bye to him around 11 AM. He was a life saver in many ways.

Destination Waitomo Glow-worm caves: About 3 hours, 200 kms on SH1 and a little off. The drive was great, awesome country roads after Hamilton, again all green around, much more greener than the Northland drive, traffic thins out one youre out of Auckland. You need to be careful to stay at speeds of 100 kms, its so easy to speed and get caught on highways.


We reach Waitomo around 0130, park, take a ticket of about 50$ per person, join the group. The guide was very funny and took us down the caves, huge ones to the boat and explained why the worms glow, read about it on the linkys above. Was cold and drippy, but one of the most enjoyable activities in NZ and a must do one for anyone. No cameras are allowed but they sell CD's at inflated prices of 130+, most touristy places in NZ, selling CD and video is the way they make those extra bucks.

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Drive to Rotorua, at 0400 PM, about 150 KMS, 3 hours, was a puzzle, maps, guides and available information was contrasting and so asked the GPS for the shortest one knowing it would be through deep country side to cut across. This was one of the best decision of the tour, took us through so many twists and turns, by lanes through the Arapuni Dam site (later we learned no lay tourist goes through this road) and one of the greenest farming patches in NZ. The surface of the roads were smooth all the way through, the signages great even in villages, hats off to the Road works department, they take this very seriously.

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At 7 PM, We check into Union Victoria Motel, Golden Chain one, one of the best in our tour. Bruce was a great hoast, the room rocking, kitchen fully equipped and the location one of the best. We had ample time to prepare Briyani, Raita and the works, the dinner was so good after a light lunch of biscuits, fruits and lots of milk.

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Eventful day 2 over, the photographs can speak part of the story.

Attached Thumbnails
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Last edited by ramkya1 : 10th December 2013 at 13:29.
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Old 10th December 2013, 15:51   #9
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Default re: New Zealand: End to End

Up from a kidney stone operation table, heading off the a unknown country and disecting it end to end! Just awesome, maybe that's an understatement too. Please do not reduce the content, neither the amount of frames that support the write-up. Those who may not want to read in depth can always skim away. But there will be many who will keep coming back to this link for any information about New Zealand.
I for sure will read it a couple of times more to get a better understanding. Thanks for posting this. Its a great learning experience of how in depth a travelogue should be.
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Old 10th December 2013, 23:02   #10
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Himadrimondal: Thanks, I'll try.

: Rotorua to NZ is like Agra / Jaipur to India. Everyone asks "have you been there?" or assumes you’d go there! Rotorua is the the geothermal center, you can smell the places form miles off, sulfur. If you’re close enough to the Geothermal place, it can be stifling, hear of people packing off due to nausea. The place is full of Geysers, hot springs, mud pools and touristy attractions. I found the Thermal Capital a misnomer, in and around Rotorua are 17 lakes, it must be names Lake District, something like they have in the UK, beautiful too. Was a rainy day, drizzling on and off, mercifully, not when we were in the open, by 7 PM it was pouring and pretty cold, temp went down to below 7, so heaters on in the room. The weather forecast was rain for the next 2 days, they are generally accurate, we were hoping they would be wrong.

Everything in the room is heated, no dearth of hot water in a thermally active area. Electric blankets, heaters in the room, heaters in the bathroom, heated towel racks, this is the scene in most motels all over. Very useful if you want to dry cloths overnight, keep washed cloths near the radiators, heaters, next day they are dry, even heavy ones dry up. You have an iron box and an iron table in most motels and also coin-fed laundary machines. Motels are the way to go if you want to save money.

You’re spoilt for choices here, at the reception of the hotel, we saw 50 activity brochures, you’d need 7 whole days to do all of them leisurely, so in one day, it was a question of choice. We selected the day tour, which would give a cross section of the experience.


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Prices start form 60 $ to 277 $ per pax. We took 87 $, gives you a 45 mts cultural performance, a guided tour, the Kiwi House, access to carving and weaving school and the gift shop, we got slotted for the 12.30 show. Very interesting show with Maori war dance, making faces, jumping and sabre rattling, high energy stuff. Inside, you get a show of 4-5 dances, also call some of the audience to the stage, me and Anu got a chance to get up there.

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The performance over, your guide shepherds you through the area, explains the thermal activity, mud pools and finally the star of the show, Pohutu Geyser, goes up to 25 meters and erupts 20-25 times a day, we saw it a couple of times. The mud pools are impressive, hot bubbles and lots of steam all around. You can see the froth of the earth from deep within, if unleashed with fury, it can burn everything in its path.

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We found 2 groups form India, a couple with 2 kids another 4 couples with 4-5 kids in tow with grandparents. Their behavior was brash, loud, shameful and the tour guides just gave up on them. The Kiwi house was dark, the birds are nocturnal, no photographs inside and our Indian friends took snaps with flash on!! One guide snatched the camera, they argued with the guide, another time near Phhutu, one guy was actually on the railing of the bridge to take snaps! Crazy idiots, the water below was hot, probably sulphuric, how mad can one get! Some of the foreign tourists and guides rolled their eyes, shook their head and said silently, Indians!! Wanted to dig a hole and crawl under. When will we learn?

The geyser was impressive, you can sit around the area the whole day and watch it fuming and pulsing, after the guided tour which included the dark Kiwi House, we circled around till 3 and went back to our hotel, made hot lunch with rice, sambar, egg curry, papad, picles full desi style, relaxed for some time.

We decided, if we come to NZ again, we’re going to spend at least 7 complete days here, if not 10, there’s really so much to do here, you name it you have it.



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Old 11th December 2013, 00:33   #11
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You sure, that's a friend ? While that's for you to ponder upon, I can only grumble as to why the rest of us should be deprived of the pleasure of a long narrative and exhaustively informative TL with as many snaps as possible.

Rest assured we have all the time in World to read and to look and relook at the snaps. So please do not skimp in any which way ramkya.

Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
A very good friend, after reading this T-log told me to reduce content, ideally to 10 lines and 10 snaps!! OK, people don’t have lots of time and bandwidth to read exhaustive T-Logs. Will try from this post onwards, would be a shame, there’s so much information and photos to share. Will now answer specific questions, keep the story bare-bones.
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Old 11th December 2013, 02:09   #12
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Thanks for posting this travelogue. Seems like you guys had fun

This reminds me of my visit back in 2005 & yes I did visit Rotorua

Did you go to the Polynesian spa?
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Old 11th December 2013, 12:51   #13
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Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
On 27th 11 AM, the operation was done at 1100 AM, I was on bed with a catheter spewing blood and debris into a urine bag with an IV on till 0800 PM,
Hello Ramkya1,

You are back & back with a bang. From Vietnam to Sri Lanka to New Zealand your travelogue have always contained loads of information & they are never boring. I will sincerely request you not to reduce the content. Those who do not wish to get into details, let them just scan the pictures. But for rest of us it is the details in your travelogue that interests the most.

Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
Crazy idiots, the water below was hot, probably sulphuric, how mad can one get! Some of the foreign tourists and guides rolled their eyes, shook their head and said silently, Indians!! Wanted to dig a hole and crawl under. When will we learn?[/i]
Sadly this remains true in most countries around the world. Our concept of behavior is entirely different & we as a country cut a sorry figure due to actions of our citizens who do not understand discipline.

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Old 11th December 2013, 14:06   #14
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@ Khoj: Thanks. He is a good friend designing websites driving traffic etc., what he told me are the general rules for T-logs and how the social media has changed orientation to, do it now, do it fast and say it fast. Will try to give all relevant details and clicks.

@ Technocrat: Had loads of fun, we had only 1 full day for Rotorua, need 7 days. Our hotel had 3 pools, mineral, hot water and a jaccuzi, time was short, we gave the spas a miss.

@ Jignesh: No logical reason to go out to another country and demonstrate uncouth behavior. I think they had booked in with an operator. Tour operator also need to educate outbound tourists on expectations, they are only worried about getting customers not about managing impressions. So frustrating!

In the evening, we went searching for the Agrodome. It was raining, low handing clouds, trees on both sides of the road, the GPS was on and off, was not up to speed on the route to Agrodome, one of the few times it failed, we followed the maps and located it just in time for the farm show.

A big parking space, you can take the Farm Show, 31$, Farm tour, 41$ or a combo for 51$, Museum, Gift shop, all of which cost you. We took the tickets for theshow, 31$ per person. The curio shop with lots of thing to buy before the show, genuine wool stuff and economically priced compared to all other places we have seen in NZ. We wanted to pick up jackets, but decided against it as they were bulky and heavy.

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The auditorium was huge, can hold 1000 people, with headphones for all, multi-lingual translations possible. They have lots of Japanese, Chinese, non-English speaking toutists there, Tourism is a big industry for them. The show was organized well, they live sheep come up to the stage, stay on podiums while you a guy explains all about 19 breeds of sheep their history and the economic aspects. The sheep dogs also demonstrate how they heard the sheep, how responsible they are to commands and how disciplined they are. Later I discussed with the guy on the state, a good sheep dog can go for 500 - 1000$, depending on many variables, a very valuable animal. They have ducks, prize cows and lambs for the show and take photographs with them all. The guy shears a sheep and explains the nuts and bolts of shearing, how much money they make and different grades of wool.


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We have been in contact with Carol and Ben, Couch Surfing friends who had offered to host us for 2 days on thier house on the hills with an awesome view to the lake but we had already firmed up bookings by then. Fed their address into the GPS and met them for a late Cuppa Hot Chocalate and lots of talk on travels around the world. Carol has huge experience traveling all over the world including India, they do a lot of biking trips in NZ on their Harley Davidson, gave lots of tips to travel on the South Island. When we left their house, it was 11 PM, we had spent a healthy 3 hours discussing the world.

End of another great day.

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Old 11th December 2013, 14:15   #15
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Some more pictures from Rotorua day..

From the show, this guy was the star with his bulging eyes..

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Beautiful song by this couple, story of a Maori Boy and a girl, awesome song.. will try to upload the video after consultation with YouTube Baba.

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Not to be outdone.... trying my hand at at

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The woodcraft school, they have native Maori's studying for 3 years + and many international students too. This is a highly acclaimed school which preserves Moiri culture and skills.

We found lots of efforts throughout NZ to preserve native cultures and skills in contrast to many countries which annihilated the natives and took over the land, read US. India has so many traditional arts and crafts and efforts to protect them stop with lip service by self-serving politicians.

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Happy to be making coffee, great kitchen to work with.

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