Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Last chance for Christchurch via AirAsia

In case you haven't heard, AirAsiaX will be suspending their KUL - Christchurch route on 30 May 2012. You now have 2+ months to plan your super cheap trip to New Zealand before it becomes a whole lot more expensive via other airlines. My 2012 calendar is really packed with trips, but I was still toying with the idea on whether this could be done or not. As a quick guide, this is what you can get:

1. Air tickets to Christchurch. The cheapest combination for a short trip, happens to be on a the labour day weekend. Price per person = RM1638 for return air tickets (yet to add for baggage and meals and insurance)
RM1638 per person for air tickets from 27 April - 1 May 2012

2. What's there to do at South Island in 5 days?
a) Join a tour
Hotels and transport are arranged for you, but without meals and activities like fees for bungee jumping. Cost = AUD1255.09/person = RM4028 per person
Day 1: Christchurch / Mt Cook / Queenstown
Travel through the rich pastoral farm land of the Canterbury Plains and the ever-changing spectacular scenery of the foothills of the Southern Alps. Continue traveling across Burkes Pass before descending to the stunning glacial fed Lake Tekapo and visiting the Church of the Good Shepherd which stands on the foreshore. From here you travel up the western side of Lake Pukaki to arrive at Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain. Stop at Mt Cook for lunch (additional at own expense) where you will be mesmerized by the surroundings of this truly unique region. Cross the Lindis Pass, leaving the MacKenzie Country and travel along the Kawerau Gorge before arriving in Queenstown.
Overnight Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown (or similar).

Day 2: Milford Sound Day Excursion
Travel along the edge of Lake Wakatipu beneath the rugged Remarkables to Te Anau, the 'Gateway to Fiordland National Park'. On entering the Fiordland National Park you pass through the Eglinton Valley. See ancient beech forest, stunning waterfalls and the famous Mirror Lakes where you will pause for a photo stop. Continue through the upper Hollyford Valley, past the stunning Christie Falls and enter the 1.2 km Homer Tunnel, drilled through the solid rock of a mountain. On exiting the Homer Tunnel prepare for the breathtaking impact of the Cleddau Valley and the descent into Milford Sound. On arrival, take an unforgettable cruise on the majestic Milford Sound where you will see the wonders of Mitre Peak and rock walls scarred by glaciers which rise to 1200m vertically from the sea. Then reboard the coach for the return journey to Queenstown. Optional lunches onboard the cruise are available.
Overnight Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown (or similar).

Day 3: At Queenstown
Enjoy a free day in Queenstown.
Overnight Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown (or similar).

Day 4: Queenstown / Franz Josef Glacier
Travel along the shores of Lake Wanaka and Hawea to the Haast Pass, the most stunning highway in New Zealand and gateway to World Heritage Westland National Park. Initially the pass travels through the treeless grasslands of Central Otago, then at the highest point, the majestic peaks of the Southern Alps and the rivers and rainforests of Westland dominate the landscape. Continue to travel up the West Coast past spectacular mountain ranges, native forests and lakes to the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. The Franz Josef Glacier is 11 kilometers in length and more than 7,000 years old. Its terminal face creaks and arches over the cave from which the river emerges, pale with powdered rock and can advance or retreat at over a meter per day. This living 'river of ice' is a must see for any visitor to New Zealand.
Overnight Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier (or similar).

Day 5: Franz Josef / Greymouth / Arthur's Pass / Christchurch
Today you continue to travel along the rugged West Coast to Shantytown, a faithful reconstruction of a Westland Gold Rush town. From Shantytown, travel to Greymouth, the center for thousands of diggers during the historic gold strikes of the 1860's. From Greymouth, journey over the Southern Alps, through Arthur's Pass and onto Christchurch by the famous TranzAlpine Express. This journey is renowned as one of the top ten train journeys in the world.

b) Self-Drive, Self-Plan DIY holiday.
You can customise this to your preferences, down to the activities and places to stay. Here is a sample blog that has done a budget trip, but didn't save on the must-do activities.

EXPENSES (budget)
o   Accommodation                                                                  NZD 840
o   Car rental – Estima  NZD 43/day                                           NZD 215
GPS NZD 10/day                                                               NZD 50
Insurance etc                                                                     NZD 100
Petrol n parking                                                                  NZD 350
o   Activities
Gondola       28/person, 18/senior                                         NZD92                                  
Bungee Jump    180/person
Photo n dvd       80/person                                                   NZD 260
Kaikoura whale watching      145/person                                NZD 580
          Milford Cruise   80/person                                                    NZD 320
o   others
dining out/groceries/souveniors/etc                                       NZD TAKTAU
                TOTAL                                                                          NZD 2,807 + TAKTAU

Based on her itinerary, it would cost NZD900/person = RM2272/person

Air Ticket + Self-Drive holiday = RM1638 + RM2272 = RM3910/person.

So if you are up for the adventure, go have fun in New Zealand!

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