Day 01 - Our flight on Saturday 25 April 2015 from KLIA to Melbourne took some 8 hours on Flight EK408 with Emirates Boeing 777-300ER. We departed at 1530hrs and arrived at Melbourne International Airport at Tullamarine (MEL) at 0100hrs (local time) on the next day. Our luggage has to be picked-up for Australian customs clearance. We’re in luck that none of the foods that we brought were confiscated. Just need to properly declare with the customs on the foods. We’ve got a 6-hour transit till our next flight from MEL to Auckland International Airport (AKL), so we took turns to take care of our luggage. Unfortunately, Haris had to sleep on the floor, in his One Direction comforter. Alhamdulillah, there is a musollah at MEL.
Day 02 - On the next day, Sunday 26 April 2015, after Subuh prayers, we proceeded to the boarding gate for our MEL-AKL flight. This time, it was on Flight EK406 on Emirates Airbus A380 and flight duration around 3.5 hours. Haris really enjoyed the In-Flight Entertainment, especially the games.
Kia ora!!! We arrived at AKL around 1245hrs local time for a 4hr transit. Here, our luggage has to be picked-up again for New Zealand’s customs clearance. Alhamdulillah, all the foods brought cleared NZ customs. There is also a dedicated musollah at AKL. No worries. Taking the free shuttle bus to the domestic terminal would be an option; however, due to the number of luggage we have, we decided to push our entire luggage on trolley to the Auckland Domestic Airport, which is just a few hundred meters away. We boarded the flight from AKL to Christchurch International Airport (CHC) at 1600hrs.
Our flight from AKL-CHC was at 1700hrs with Emirates Airbus A320 (operated by Jetstar) and flight duration was 1.5 hours. As soon as we arrived at CHC at 1825hrs, we took the free airport shuttle service straight to Sudima Christchurch Airport Hotel. Too tired with all the transits, we retired early as soon as we checked in to the hotel. Dinner was also from the foods that we brought from home.
Day 03 - Our journey to New Zealand’s South Island started on ANZAC Day holiday on Monday 27 April 2015. First thing in the morning after breakfast, we walked to Britz Motorhome Depot, located about 400m from the hotel to pick up our motorhome. We settled all the documentations for the motorhome rental by 10:00am and Haris was so excited and raring to go. First stop is the PAK’nSAVE at Westfield Riccarton where we stock up fresh meat & groceries to for 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches & 6 dinners.
So, begin our journey for a drive from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo and the journey covers 253km at travelling time 3.5 hours via the Inland Scenic Route. About halfway, we were greeted with rain and the rain lasted till morning on the next day. No sunset, milkyway and sunrise photo shoot at the famed Church of the Good Shepherd in Tekapo. We checked in at Lake Tekapo Motels & Holiday Park and rested for the night.
Day 04 - The next day, Tuesday 28 April 2015, the weather was more kind to us around 0900hrs. We spent some time at the holiday park and after discharging the black and grey water, we drove to the Church of the Good Shepherd where we spent about 1 hour there. Moving on, we drove to Mt. John Observatory a view of Lake Tekapo and Tekapo town. We spent about 1.5 hours on the top of the hill before we proceeded on to drive from Tekapo to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. We stopped for lunch at Peter’s Look Out in Ben Ohau, by Lake Pukaki.
After lunch, we drove on until we reached at Glentanner Park Centre to check-in at the holiday park. Later we proceed straight to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park village and parked the motorhome at Hooker Valley Parking. So, the three of us walked along the Hooker Valley Track to a scenic point where Mueller Lake & Mount Sefton can be viewed. Decided to stop there since the distance to reach Mount Cook view is further 4km away and we managed to be back at the motorhome parking before sunset. We drove another 30 minutes back to the holiday park for dinner and rest for the night.
Day 05 - After subuh on Wednesday 29 April 2015, we checked out from Glentanner Park Centre and proceeded back to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park village, but this time, to Tasman Lake Valley where we spent about 1 hour there in light rain. Along the way, there were plenty of scenic locations for photographing the Southern Alps mountain range. Haris gets to play by the little stream near the Tasman Lake carpark. At about noon, we proceeded to drive to Wanaka, via Lindis Pass. This is one of the most scenic stretches of the trip. We stopped over at High Country Salmon Farm in Twizel for some fresh alpine salmons.
We arrived late in Wanaka around 1500hrs, so we had to skip the National Transport and Toy Museum and the Puzzling World and checked-in straight at Wanaka Top 10 Holiday Park. We later proceeded to Roy’s Bay, the location of the famous Lonely Tree of Wanaka, which is a short drive away. We spent a few hours there, playing with the autumn leaves, while taking some photographs of the scenic tree. After sunset, we drove back to the holiday park for dinner and rest for the night.
Day 06 - Early on the next morning on Thursday 30 April 2015, around 0500hrs, we proceeded back to Roy’s Bay for some milkyway shot of the Lonely Tree. I was alone by the lake front while Haris & mommy continue to sleep in the motorhome. Thinking that we parked the motorhome at the public parking overnight, the Lake District enforcement officer gave us a ticket for NZ$300! Later in the day, I had to go to the Lake District office to explain to them that we were not camping overnight at the public carpark. Our appealed was approved.....alhamdulillah. Because of the appeal process, we had to spend a few hours in Wanaka. Haris had a great time playing by the lakeside.
At around noon time, we proceeded to drive from Wanaka to Queenstown for the next leg of our journey. We stopped over at a scenic town of Arrowtown for breathtaking view of the autumn foliage at play. We walked through the small but expensive little town from some photo opportunities. One of the mistakes that I’ve made and regretted was to proceed on to Glenorchy, after checking in at Queenstown Top 10 Holiday Park at Creeksyde. We should have spent a few hours in Queenstown itself. The journey to Glenorchy took about 1.5 hours. We headed straight to the famed Willow’s Row of Glenorchy. It’s a row of willow tree by Lake Wakatipu. We drove back to Queenstown by 1500hrs and slightly late for our cable car ride on the Queenstown Skyline Gondola for an aerial view of Queenstown. By the time we arrived on top of Bob’s Peak, it was almost sunset already. After sundown, we drove back to the holiday park for dinner and rest for the night. A long drive tomorrow. Have some fun photographing the milkyway within the holiday park itself, thanks to the clear night.
Day 07 - After breakfast on Friday 1 May 2015 we proceed to drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound, via Te Anau, a journey that covers 285km and almost 6 hours. This is one of the longest drives of the trip. On the fringes of Queenstown, we stopped by Frankton for a short while for Haris to play around. We proceeded to drive to Te Anau where we lost about 1 hour stopping by the workshop due to some plumbing and portable heater problem with the motorhome. Time for refuelling too since there is no fuel station along the Te Anau-Milford Sound Highway and it would be expensive to refuel in Milford Sound. Another regret that I had was to drive straight from Queenstown to Milford Sound where I should have broken the journey at Te Anau. Most of the scenic views alone the Te Anau-Milford Sound Highway face west and therefore, a bit tough to photograph facing the sun. We arrive right before sunset at Milford Sound where I had the opportunity to photograph the Mitre Peak at sunset. Alhamdulillah, it was a clear sunset. Right after sunset, we drove to Milford Sound Lodge where we stayed for the night. Another opportunity to capture some night milkyway shots due to clear skies. Milford Sound is probably the most remote place in New Zealand’s South Island and there was no cellular coverage at all after leaving Te Anau. The only communication with the outside world was via satellite communication and it was so expensive!
Day 08 - On the next day, Saturday 2 May 2015, we spent the morning going on the Milford Sound Cruise with the Mitre Peak Cruises. The cruise took about 2 hours where we were brought right up to the open waters of Tasman Sea. Along the cruise, we got some opportunities to see the seagulls and sea lions upfront at their natural habitat, along with some scenic waterfalls. We arrived back at the boat jetty around noon. After discharging the black & grey water at the public dump station, we proceeded to drive back to Te Anau, with a stopover for lunch at Monkey Creek. We arrived in Te Anau at around 1500hrs. Haris got to play at the public playground in Te Anau and we did some souvenir shopping in this little town. Around 1430hrs, after refuelling stop, we proceeded to drive to The Catlins Forest Reserve, via Invercargill & the Southern Scenic Road. This is the most gruelling stretch of the trip where we covered a distance of 370km, which took some 5 hours to reach the Catlins Kiwi Holiday Park at Mclean Falls. This area is so remote that on one 70km stretch, not a single vehicle pass by. We arrived at around 2100hrs and retired early soon after dinner.
Day 09 - On Sunday, 3 May 2015, after breakfast and Haris brief time at the playground, we skipped McLeans Falls and drove straight to Purakanui Falls, one of the most photographed waterfalls in New Zealand. We spent about 1.5 hours at Purakanui Falls before continuing the journey to Dunedin. We had to skip Nugget Point Lighthouse due to short of time. We arrived at Tunnel Beach for a brief stop before proceeding to Dunedin. Upon arriving at Dunedin, we checked-in at Dunedin Holiday Park & Motels and later drove to St. Clair Beach for sunset. The waves were strong and we could see some people surfing the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. After sunset, we drove back to the holiday park for dinner and rest for the night.
Day 10 - We started early on Monday 4 May 2015 where we drove to St. Clair Beach for sunrise. Alhamdulillah, I was blessed with a great sunrise by the wooden piles at the beach. Soon after breakfast, we proceed to drive to Dunedin city centre to replenish some meat and fresh foods. This time around we stopped at MAD Butcher which sells some halal meats & chicken. Later we proceeded to go to Dunedin Railway Station for a brief photo stop before proceeded to Dunedin Botanic Gardens to spend 1.5 hours there. At around 1100hrs, we drove onwards to Katiki Point for some photo opportunities of the penguins. It was Haris’s wish to catch a glimpse of the Yellow-eyed Penguins and Alhamdulillah; we managed to see a pair of penguins and a baby seal...which made Haris very happy. After about 1 hour there, we proceeded to the Moeraki Boulder site and have lunch there. After lunch, we proceed to drive to a small town of Waimate, home of the tamed wallabies, known as EnkleDooVery Korna. We spent about 1.5 hours there feeding and touching the wallabies. It’s a day of wildlife for Haris today. At about 1700hrs, we proceeded to drive to Timaru and later checked-in at Timaru Top 10 Holiday Park. We were busy packing our things for our trip back to Christchurch tomorrow. Alhamdulillah, we finished all our foods that we brought from home and still have some for lunch in Christchurch tomorrow.
Day 11 - In the morning of Tuesday, 5 May 2015, Haris had some fun at the holiday park’s playground. After breakfast and discharging the black and grey water, we proceeded to drive back to Christchurch for a 160km trip which covered a 2.5 hour journey. We arrived at the Orana Wildlife Park around 1200hrs where we spent about 2 hours there. Again, this is the day for Haris as he really enjoyed viewing the animals. But by this time, he has shown signs of fatigue, after the 9-day journey which covered almost 2100km in New Zealand’s South Island. After lunch, we drove back to Christchurch and checked-in at Sudima Christchurch Airport Hotel. All our luggage has to be removed from the motorhome and everything has to be cleaned before we return the motorhome. Our journey with the motorhome ended at 1500hrs where I drove the motorhome back to the depot. Everything checked out well. One thing we forgot to do was to give a nickname our temporary home for 9 days.
Later in the evening, we took a bus ride into Christchurch. Another thing which I had regretted was I didn’t study Christchurch thoroughly so, that evening, we were grappling in the dark. We had dinner at the temporary cabins in the commercial centre, where the place was in the midst of rebuilding due to the strong earthquake that shook Christchurch in 2012. After dinner, we took the bus back to the hotel. Another long night to do our final packing for our flight out of Christchurch tomorrow morning.
Day 12 - Our journey to the magical New Zealand’s South Island ended today on Wednesday 6 May 2015. After breakfast and checking out from the hotel, we took the airport back to CHC for our flight to MEL, via AKL. We took the Emirates Airbus A320 (Operated by Jetstar), Flight EK7528 at 1020hrs and we arrived in AKL at 1140hrs for a transit time of almost 6 hours. By this time, we all tired and spent the whole transit time at the airport. Our next flight was on Emirates Airbus A380 Flight EK407 back to Melbourne where we will spend 3 days there. So long New Zealand or Na te roa , Aotearoa!!!
This is the photography journey of Nur Ismail Photography where all the experiences from this year onwards will be shared with the audience. In collaboration with NiSi Malaysia, Leofoto, SONY Malaysia and Skylum Software. Thanks for viewing!