Day 12: Auckland - Christchurch

If you don't already know, New Zealand is made up of two main islands and a number of smaller islands. The two islands are divided by a 22km sea known as the Cook Strait. There are 2 ways to get to-and-fro the North and South Island
  1. Ferries between Wellington and Picton
  2. Domestic flights between the the major cities (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, Dunedin) 
Options are available for you, should you want to bring your vehicle over to the other island, you can even drive it up on the ferries! We chose the latter of taking a morning flight from Auckland to Christchurch and rent another campervan instead. Mainly because first option is a lot more expensive and also we were rushing for the Bluff Oyster Festival (coming up on on Day 14). We booked our Jetstar flight tickets way beforehand at only NZD180

The morning went a little crazy, rushing for our 10:25AM flightGetting the campervan ready to drop off back at the depot (base for the campervan companies) was not exactly that easy. The vehicle has to be returned with full fuel tank (both petrol & LPG), waste water tank to be emptied and the interior of the vehicle to be generally clean to avoid extra charges!  

Time checked: 10:00AM at Auckland Airport domestic terminal. 

After a rather long flight delay and an hour 20 minutes (actual flight duration).. 

Kia Ora (hello in the Maori language), Christchurch

i-Site. Always our first stop whenever we're in a new city! 

Booking of campervan is so convenient in New Zealand. The different rental companies will have a common pick-up and drop-off point, also known as depot, that is conveniently located near the airports. Most importantly, they provide free shuttle service to pick you up at the airport for pick-up and back to the airport when you drop-off! 

Photo review of our campervan: Say Hi to Our United 2+1 Premier Motorhome!

About 50km south down from Christchurch Airport, there is a town called Rakaia, also known as The Salmon Capital of New Zealand. Salmon World is an attraction featuring an aquarium showcasing the lifecycle of the salmon and other local aquatics. No, they don't sell salmon. 

..and we ended our day at Caroline Bay, Timaru. 

As usual, ending off with the overview of our flight and drive route of the day! 

Information you might be interested in:

New Zealand Salmon World - CLOSED
9 Railway Tce East
Rakaia 7719, New Zealand

Caroline Bay
Timaru Port
Timaru 7910, New Zealand

Day 11: Hamilton - Auckland

Day 11/31 is one of the less exciting day of the trip..

Checked out of the Hamilton City Holiday Park. The park is equipped with all basic facilities, relatively clean and quiet, it is a little pricey at NZD35 per night for a basic site like this. But seems like we've got no choice as it's the only campervan site in the city. Nothing fancy. 

Our campervan was parked beside this cute retro-styled motorhome (read about the Difference between Campervan & Caravan

Previous night's so-so dinner was whip up in this pretty well-equipped kitchen. 

2.30PM: Royal Oak Shopping Mall. Found the existence of mall on our TomTom GPS while trying to navigate to the nearest PakNSave to shop for the night's dinner. 

New Zealand Lotteries Commission (Lotto New Zealand). Everybody love a game of chance once in awhile. 

Your trip to New Zealand is not quite complete without having the World Famous in New Zealand – L&P (Lemon & Paeroa). It's a carbonated sweet soft drinks with hint of lemon taste in it. Ok, the descriptions doesn't really sound nice but you've got to try it to believe it! I didn't exactly accepted the taste initially but somehow my love has grown over time! #NZmustdo

4.00PM: Central Auckland. The itinerary of the day was to take a 2 hours drive from Hamilton back to Auckland and spend the day exploring the main streets of the city or otherwise known as Central Auckland. But this plan didn't happen because parking in Auckland city was a nightmare! Roads are narrow, streets are busy, car parks are expensive and full everywhere, it's no wonder the most populous city of New Zealand! 

5.00PM: Off Airport Shopping Centre, conveniently located just diagonally across Auckland Airport (about 3 mins driving distance). You can find almost everything in the shopping centre, from cafes, clinic, pharmacy, post office, banks, supermarket, florist to even hair salon. Great place for travellers to stock up on whatever that might have left forgotten. 

5.30PM: Done with our shopping! The Warehouse. As per their slogan "where everyone gets a bargain", we did manage to grab some good bargain items! Damage of the day: NZD44.30

6.00PM: Auckland Airport Campervan Park is a total self-service campervan park. Booking has to be done online and payment to be made via credit card. Confirmation will come with an unique code that is to be entered at the entrance gantry. There is no staff presence in the park at all as opposed to the usual campervan park where we usually have to sort of register and make payment with the host/ staff. 

Priced at only NZD29 per night, it's not the cheapest campervan park that we've paid for but definitely cheaper than the other campervan park in Auckland. Comes with full facilities with kitchen, toilets and showers. Most importantly, it's conveniently located just less than a kilometre away from Auckland Airport.

All in all, I love the minimalist look and feel of the whole place, it was a pleasant place night stay. Sadly, it's permanently closed

7.30PM: Feeding time! Posing with my all-time-favourite carrot omelette! 

Overview of our drive route of the day! 

Information you might be interested in:

Hamilton City Holiday Park

14 Ruakura Road,
Hamilton East, 
Hamilton 3216, New Zealand

Royal Oak Shopping Mall

691 Manukau Road 
Royal Oak, 
Auckland 1023, New Zealand

Off Airport Shopping Centre

1 John Goulter Drive 
Auckland 2022, New Zealand
Full list of shops available:

Auckland Airport Campervan Park - CLOSED
Jimmy Ward Cres, 
Auckland Airport, 
Auckland 2022, New Zealand 

Day 10: Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Itinerary for Day 10/31 was: New Plymouth > Waitomo Glowworm Caves > Hamilton

Somewhere along the State Highway 3, we spotted this signage that says The Three Sisters, the explorer in us decided to follow the road sign to find out what The Three Sisters are! We followed the road sign and got onto Clifton Road without actually knowing what The Three Sisters are.. 

(via Clifton Road) 

But we didn't manage to reach to The Three Sisters due to the slippery river bed.. 

(via Pilot Road) 

Of course, that didn't stop us from finding out what The Three Sisters are! So we drove a little down to Pilot Road then shamelessly asked for permission to get behind the small gate and had an aha moment!

Aha! All that little effort paid off, presenting to you The Three Sisters

I did a little research later and realised the one further to the back is call the Elephant Rock and The Three Sisters are the two natural rock formations in front. As the name suggests, The Three Sisters used to have three of the different rock formations. Like what's happening to The Twelve Apostles in Australia, the nature has claimed one of them away.. 

You know you've reached your destination when you see the big i-Site sign! Even if you are lost somehow, stop your car and pop in there for help. I wrote a teeny bit about i-Site in my one of my previous posts: Day 09: Whanganui (Part 1)!

We had fluffy pancakes and seafood pizza for lunch at the little cafe, NZ$28.50. 

Glowworm caves in Waitomo is one of the 27 Surreal Places to Visit Before You Die. So glad that we didn't visit just one but two glowworm caves! Each of the caves is a different experience altogether. #NZmustDO 

What exactly are glowworms? As its name suggests, it's worms that will glow and in my own words, glowworms are the cousin of firefly – bioluminescent insects. Imagine thousands of them illuminating the caves, the view is just magnificent. Who doesn't love looking up to a countless of twinkle stars! 

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Admission fees was at NZ$48 per adult. It's an educational 20 minutes guided tour with a short walk (to introduce about the caves formation, fascinating myth and legends, how the cave was discovered) then and a short boat ride to where the glowworms are! Shady protected places + high humidity = home for the glowworms. 

Under the same management, there are two more caves – Ruakuri Cave (NZ$69) and Aranui Cave (NZ$49). Bundle packages are available for the three caves. There are no two identical natural caves, they are unique and have its own characteristics. Visit the caves to appreciate their individual beauty. 

Since we aren't allowed to take any photos inside the caves, we bought the green-screen photos. A rather unusual touristy act of us! Damage: NZ$39 comes with a nice booklet that hold the photos and information of the caves and glowworms. 

Footwhistle Glowworm Cave - CaveWorld Waitomo

As opposed to the commercialised one, if you are a photo addict like us, you should opt for the Footwhistle Glowworm Cave tour with just a dollar more in the admission fee at NZ$49 per adult. 

Since we were the last pair of the tour, our tour guide was almost like our personal tour guide! He was so friendly and passionate about what he had to share. Not forgetting, waited patiently for us as we stopped at every corner hoping to capture the best of the caves and the glowworms. 

Did I mention the cave is pitch-dark? 

He spotted Duffyzai and brought him out for me for a photo too! 

These sword look-alike are known as stalactites (grow down from the ceiling) and stalagmites (grow up from the cave floor), created by water dripping from the roof. They takes hundreds of years to form with an average of one cubic centimetre every 100 years! There is also a name for the formation when stalactites and stalagmites join together, known as helicti

Lifecycle of Glowworms
  1. Lifespan of about 11 months 
  2. 4 stages of lifecycle: (i) eggs, (ii) larva (young larvae are the ones that emit lights, they put down sticky lines to attract other insects to stick on it and feed themselves on these trapped insects), (iii) pupa (same as the cocoon stage in the butterfly life cycle), (iv) adult (looks like mosquito, have no mouth with the only function of reproduction and they only live for a few days!)  
The cave is named after this  Footwhistle 
..and finally ended the day at Hamilton City Holiday Park after yet another round of grocery shopping! Everyday is shopping day at PakNSave. 

Overview of our driving route of the day! 

Information you might be interested in:

The Three Sisters and The Elephant Rock

Waitomo Glowworm Caves
39 Waitomo Caves Rd
Waitomo Caves
Otorohanga 3943, New Zealand 

Footwhitstle Glow Worm Tour - CaveWorld Waitomo
23 Waitomo Village Rd
Waitomo Caves