The immigration check was quite tight, not only checking passport and issuing stamp but the officer also asked me lots of questions like what do you do? what's your plan in NZ, with whom you travel? It happened to Fahmi as well.The day was still young, too early to pick up the car so we had a small breakfast while waiting. Another friend, Vivi, she'd arrive later around noon. It's been a while we haven't met since Sydney, a lot of things to catch up. Then it's time to pick up the car that we booked, however something's wrong with the car so we had to wait almost 2 hours till they fixed it. It dragged our mood down a little bit.
Got the car after waiting for so long! Fahmi and I slid to the city to get things that we need, mostly camping equipment and food supplies. Done with our shopping we went to get Vivi and had a look a bit of Christchurch. The city was super quiet, nothing much happening due to end year holiday. So, we decided to call it a day.
*Price for tent/unpowered site
Day 2: Christchurch - Lake Tekapo
We're so ready for the adventure. I couldn't control the pulse inside me to see everything that I had imagined about New Zealand. The nature, mountains, beautiful scenery, sense of adventure, I wanted to be there quickly! We drove towards Castle Hill wanting to do Arthur Pass, however the weather was unfavorable. After much consideration we changed the route to Lake Tekapo.
Lake Tekapo is a popular destination in Canterbury Region and also photographer’s favorite spot to shoot milky way, adding Church of the Good Shepherd in the frame. This church was the first church built in Mackenzie Basin in 1935.
Lake McGregor Campsite ($5pp)
The next day, we drove up to Mt. John. The drive up itself was a bit horrifying if you’re afraid of height. It was steep, narrow, with sharp turns. Once we parked our car, as far I could see was the mountain ranges. It’s like we’re in the middle of basin and the mountains circled around it, like a tart (I have no idea why I’m illustrating it with a tart!). I turned around and my whole 360’ view was mountains, some topped with snow, some just normal. I wonder how it comes to winter, they’re all be sparkling with snow!
Lake Pukaki Camping (Free)
Far from yesterday, the weather was rather disappointing. Dark clouds growing and covered most of the peaks and the saddest thing is we could only see the foot of Mt. Cook. I checked the weather if it could possibly better in next day but it’s getting even worse. So, we decided to do Hooker Valley Track today. It took 3-4 hours to complete the track and in that position we could only enjoy the different atmosphere of misty, mysterious kind of feel.
It wasn’t raining but very windy. The track is flat and stable, passing the Alpine Memorial to the first viewing point, Mueller Glacier. It’s sad to see how the ice melted and the glacier has decreased significantly for the past years. We crossed over three swing bridges, across Hooker River till we reached the end of Glacier Lake where some icebergs could be spotted in the lake, even on the shore.
That night was new year’s eve, a very unusual way for me celebrating new year’s eve. No crowds, no fireworks, not something typical. Besides, I was spending the night in a hut, middle of nowhere without lights. It was rainy and cold. The good thing was I could still have bbq with Fahmi and Vivi and stayed up till midnight. The wind was too strong that night and shook our tent really hard. It was the worst sleep ever, oh Mt. Cook.
Entering different area, Fiordland National Park somehow appealed me. It’s the largest national park in New Zealand, encompassing mountain, lake, fiord, and rainforest. The term fiord is defined as a u-shaped glacier-carved valley which has been flooded by the sea. In total, there are 14 fiords where waterfalls make their way to the sea.
Milford Sound, one of the famous fiord is in our bucket-list to do in New Zealand. The closest and last township is Te Anau, a peaceful lake town where we got the information about things to do around as well as getting more food. Afterward, we drove to the next campsite while stopping along, such as Eclinton Valley and Mirror Lake. Too bad the weather wasn’t so good either.