Friday, August 27, 2010

New Zealand trip planning (2009)

Travel Dates: November 23 to December 9, 2009

Visa: FREE for Filipinos. Passed application July30 as it was specified in the website that it takes around 12 weeks for processing, only to be told that for PRs it only takes 10 days. Since visa is valid for 3 months only upon issuance, Mark was told to come back around October. He asked if he could just leave the application and wait for the approval when already processed. They allowed it. Aug5, embassy called to inform that our visas were approved, but we could only bring out passports to get our visas sometime in Oct (because of the 3 months validity). OCT 14 we got our visa stickers on our passports.

International Flight / Singapore Airlines -- used krisflyer miles and paid only travel taxes (yippppeeee!)
Singapore to Christchurch - SQ297 (1945/1030+1) = taxes $564 for 4 persons
Auckland to Singapore - SQ286 (1325/1855) = taxes $572 for 4 persons

Domestic Flight / Pacific Blue -- Flight No DJ3097 (Blue Saver*)
Christchurch to Auckland
DEPARTING Christchurch Domestic 0930hr (09:30am), Fri 04 Dec 2009
ARRIVING Auckland Domestic 1050hr (10:50am), Fri 04 Dec 2009
NZD 378.90 - around NZD90 per person + 2 persons with check in baggage (we paid NZD10 per person with baggage)

Travel Insurance
AXA Comprehensive (Asia) Coverage Family Plan = $230

Car rental:
OMEGA -- NZD585 - for 15 days rental
Hire Charge: NZ$39.00 per day, including GST, insurance and unlimited kilometres. Excluding first NZ$1000.00 of any damage (insurance excess).
a) Pick up - Christchurch Aiport - November 24
Drop off - Christchurch Airport - December 4
10 days @ $390
b) Pick up - Auckland Airport - December 4
Drop off - Auckland Airport - December 9
5 days @ $195

Hotels / Accommodation
Cashel and High Street
Christchurch, 8001 New Zealand
Hotel Front Desk: 64-3-3658888
Hotel Fax: 64-3-3645143
- 2nights (Nov 24 and Dec 3) FREE (used points, worth NZD394)

Franz Josef -- Franz Josef Top 10 Holiday Park
2902 Franz Josef Highway, New Zealand
Ph: +64 3 752 0735 | Fax: +64 3 752 0035
if you are in New Zealand call toll free on 0800 46 78 97
- 2 nights (Nov 25-27) - NZD150/night = total NZD300

Queenstown -- CROWNE PLAZA
Beach Street, Queenstown 9300 New Zealand
Hotel Front Desk: 64-03-4410095
Hotel Fax: 64-03-4428895
- 2 nights (Nov 27-29) - 1 night for 60,000points + NZD30= NZD60 (worth NZD510)

91 Luxmore Drive
Te Anau
New Zealand
Ph +64 3 249 7511
Fax +64 3 249 8944
- 2 nights (Nov29–Dec1)- NZD110/night = total NZD220

Lake Tekapo -- Lake Tekapo Motels and Holiday Park
2 Lakeside Drive, Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
P: 03-680-6825
F: 03-680-6824
- 1 night (Dec2)= NZD170

Mt Cook -- Aoraki/Mt Cook Alpine Lodge
Tony & Adele Delaney
PO Box 39 Mount Cook
P 64 3 4351860
F 64 3 4351863
M 0274361685
- 1 night (Dec1)= NZD195

Auckland -- CROWN PLAZA
128 Albert Street PO Box 6841 Auckland 1030 New Zealand
Hotel Front Desk: 64-9-3021111
Hotel Fax: 64-9-3023111
For Reservations: 1800 787 1221
- 2nights (Dec4-5, Dec8-9) - 1 night for 30,000points + NZD60 = NZD120 (worth NZD300)

Rotorua --SUDIMA HOTEL Lake Rotorua
1000 Eruera Street, Rotorua , New Zealand
Phone: +64 7 348 1174
Facsimile: +64 7 346 0238
Reservations Freephone: 0800 Sudima (0800 783462) – NZ
- 3nights breakaway package NZD80/night = NZD240

ITINERARY (please click on the daily links for more details):
November 23 – December 9, 2009
16 days / 15 nights

Date/Day -- Itinerary
-- Singapore to Christchurch SQ297 (1945/1030+1)

-- ETA Christchurch 1030am. Visited Christchurch attractions.

-- Christchurch to Arthur’s Pass (153kms/2hrs)
Arthur’s Pass to Hokitika (93.6kms/1.5hrs)
Hokitika to Scenic Reserve (33kms/30mins)
Hokitika Reserve to Franz Josef (167kms/3.5hrs)

-- Franz Josef for 2 days. Visited Fox Glacier, Lake Matheson and Franz Josef Glacier.

-- drove to Queenstown for a 2 night stay.
Franz Josef to Haast Pass (180kms/2.5hrs)
Haast Pass to Wanaka (30.3kms/45mins)
Wanaka to Queenstown (68.7kms/1.5hrs)

TSS Earnslaw Cruise. Sight-seeing at Queenstown.

Drove to Glenorchy for a glimpse of paradise.
Drove to Te Anau (172kms/2.5hrs) for 2 nights stay.

Drove to Milford Sound (117kms/2hrs) for a cruise tour package. 

Drove to Arrowtown (178kms/2.5hrs) on the way to Mt Cook.
Arrowtown to Twizel (187.6kms/2.5hrs)
Twizel to Mt Cook (64.4kms/1hr). Stayed in Mt Cook for one night only.

Sir Edmund Hillary Museum at Hermitage Hotel.
Tasman Glacier and Hooker Valley.
Drove to Lake Tekapo (105kms/1.5hrs) and stayed for one night.

Lake Tekapo to Christchurch via Inland Scenic Route 72 (137kms/2hrs).
Antarctic Centre

Flew to Auckland via Pacific Blue

Auckland to Rotorua via Hot Beach.
Auckland to Hot Beach (177kms/3hrs). Visited Cathedral Cove as well.
Hot Beach to Rotorua (201kms/3hrs) for 3 nights stay.

Rotorua - Whakarewarewa, Buried Village, Blue Lake, Government Gardens

Rotorua - Wai-o-tapu, Agroventures, Gondola/luge

Rotorua to Auckland. Skytower.

Auckland to Singapore (1325/1855)

Planning Stages:
one year before departure -- I started planning for NZ around late last year (2008), checking out brochures, listing interesting attractions, estimating length of trip.

6-10 months before departure -- shortlisted attractions. Made tentative itineraries (i have made around 10 revisions i think).

4-6months before departure -- shortlisted accommodations. Continued checking for attractions and activities. Passed visa application. Booked international flight (using SQ krisflyer miles) but the return leg was on waitlist. Mapped out destinations using google earth.

2-4months before departure -- visa approved 5 days after passing application. Problems with google earth. I was so devastated because I have already finished putting up most of the attractions we need to visit. With this catastrophe in hand, i decided to just make a travel journal. It will come in handy. It might not be as specific as the maps at google earth, but i know it will not crash on me or get some destinations deleted accidentally or not saved automatically.

We almost scrapped NZ trip because the dates we wanted were not available. There were dates going out of Singapore but no more flights coming back. So we thought of going to Eastern Aussie instead. A few weeks after, hubby checked SQ flights again and was able to see some flights. This journey though, would take us to Christchurch and we would be leaving from Auckland on the return leg. Well, better than nothing at all. The trip now was adjusted to be closer to the start of the school holiday.

1-2months before departure date -- booked car rental services, hotel accommodations, domestic flight. Got NZ visa chops on our passports. Checked if we have 2 pieces of checked in luggage only to find out that we only have one that is in working condition. The others have busted wheels! Now we have to buy one more luggage! We also bought jackets, bonnets and gloves for the kids.

We bought another DSLR camera (Canon 500D, secondhand) as back up. We learned from our Australia trip that we really need a back up camera -- our camera then stopped working on the 2nd day! and it was BRAND NEW! Good thing we had a spare camera (point and shoot) Canon powershot. So this time around, with all the scenery we wanted to capture, we made sure we had 2 DSLR cameras as a precaution (aside from 1 point and shoot and 1 camcorder :) ).

4weeks before departure -- finalized daily itinerary. Booked tour arrangements. Paid travel taxes for our Singapore/Christchurch flight and had our tickets issued. Bought some raincoats. Based on most travel books we need to have one in hand for some sudden changes in weather. It came in really handy as we were able to use it for those unexpected rainy days.
2weeks before departure -- checked bills to be paid and settled them.

1 week before departure -- double checked all travel documents and made copies. Started packing (we need to have only 23kg per luggage for the domestic flight). Made final bookings for tours (Milford Sound and TSS Earnslaw cruises). Printed itinerary, travel documents, air tickets, hotel bookings, etc. Bought travel insurance. Paid for travel taxes for our Auckland/Singapore tickets and had them issued.

Estimated costs/expenses while in New Zealand

Average cost of gas = 1.689 per litre
Average cost for fastfood meal (for 2 persons on a budget) = NZ$15
Attractions/admission fees (family) = from NZ$15 to NZ$1,500 (helicopter ride, which we were not able to take due to bad weather)

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