Travelling Dunedin to Lake Tekapo

New Zealand has a variety of scenic drives and these highlight help to create the diversity of the country – especially if you’re travelling Dunedin to Lake Tekapo. This trip begins at sea level and finishes on a high country plateau, with NZ’s highest mountains in sight.

Stops en-route travelling Dunedin to Tekapo

Dunedin is a major New Zealand city and a learning centre for many students. It has a youthful vibrancy, yet an incredibly charming old world feel with it’s beautiful historic buildings.  As you head north and enter the coastal Otago landscape, the whole view changes very quickly.  The drive continues with the Pacific Ocean on your right and that most classic of New Zealand scenes, mobs of sheep.

Travelling Dunedin to Lake Tekapo

Travelling Dunedin to Lake Tekapo – Fleurs Place and Moearki Boulders

After a 45 minute drive the first sign for the fishing village Moeraki comes into sight. Now, its important to note that the actual village is  NOT where the same-named famous boulders are located – In fact, they’re 5 minutes away following highway SH1.

Travelling Dunedin to Lake Tekapo

It’s became a famous stopping point for ‘Fleurs Place’ restaurant, where  ‘the fish jumps on your place’ is their famous slogan. This is a valid claim, as the fish supplier is right next door at the pier.

Fleurs Place

Historic Oamaru with old town district

If you travel north for another 45 minutes, you’ll reach the historic township of Oamaru. The history of Oamaru dates right back to when its port served agricultural exports. You’ll quickly find out that Oamaru is famous for its white limestone – this was used to construct buildings throughout New Zealand – prime examples being Christchurch Cathedral and the Parliament building in Wellington.

Travelling Dunedin to Lake Tekapo

A highlight for today’s travellers, is the incredibly unique historical part of the city. Take a wander down the streets and alleyways and you’ll come across beautifully restored historic buildings.  These buildings now house modern day arts and crafts shops, bakeries and even a whiskey shop!

Now the ‘Steampunk‘ gallery is pretty unusual for Southland. Everyone wants to visit this place to see its pieces of steampunk art and glass room.

 

Power stations along the Waitaki River

When travelling up the Waitaki Valley, you’ll follow New Zealand key hydro power project. From Lake Tekapo, through to Lake Benmore, the waters flow through man-made channels, via hydro power stations – these feed the generators along the way. Its an impressive force of power and definitely worth a stop.

Maori Rock Paintings when travelling Dunedin to Lake Tekapo

Polynesian seafarers were the first to settle Aotearoa (New Zealand) about 800 years ago. Even as far down as Stewart Island, these examples of stone-age cultures leaving their stories behind in rock paintings. Some of those rock paintings are clearly seen right next to the main road between Oamaru and Omarama. The carpark is well sign posted and worth a brief stop.

Merino wool in Omarama

After travelling through the Otago sheep farming heartland you’ll reach the little settlement of Omarama. Many travellers need to stop here to fuel both their vehicles and themselves.  Take the opportunity to check out the local wool shop ‘The Wrinkly Rams’. You can see shearing shows and buy local pure wool products. There’s also a very large cafe here.

Stunnings blues on Lake Pukaki and Tekapo

On a clear day, you’ll find the next piece of road to be one of the most scenic in New Zealand. You’ll see this, as you head north from Omarama towards Mt. Cook. At Lake Pukaki, park your vehicle, switch of the engine and gaze at the stunning sight ahead of you. With the Southern Alps in the background, its breathtaking! I guarantee you’ll take so many photos and capture special memories of a lifetime.

Stay at Lake Tekapo (and try stargazing), the settlement of Twizel, or right in the Mount Cook National Park at the Mt. Cook Village.

Happy travelling and contact us for any further information.

Staying in Glenorchy near Queenstown

Every traveller to New Zealand reads and hears about Queenstown, so they probably wouldn’t consider staying in Glenorchy. But just how many international travellers really know about Glenorchy? Its only a 45 minute drive from busy Queenstown. What I can state categorically, is that the Glenorchy area is the most blissful and tranquil area in the upper Lake Wakatipu region.

Staying in Glenorchy near Queenstown

The road to Glenorchy

Key reasons for staying in Glenorchy:

So why would you stay in Glenorchy?

  • Firstly, if you want to immerse yourself in a much less ‘touristy’ part of New Zealand, its a great choice.  And if you stay overnight, you’ll really love the peaceful solitude – especially after all the day trippers have returned to Queenstown.
  • Visiting the local pub or the cafe, checking the local ‘General Store’ and walking the ‘Lagoon Walk’, are highlights.  You’ll really get the authenticity of this place if you’re travelling outside the peak travel seasons (between April / May and September/ October).
  • The Glenorchy area is starting point for key walks and hikes, such as the Routeburn Track and the Rees Dart Track. There are some fantastic choices for day walks as well. The Dart River Safari tour and Horse trekking options are also key attractions.

 

Views from Camp Glenorchy

 

Accommodation options in the Glenorchy region

Camp Glenorchy

When I travelled recently to Glenorchy in June 2018, I stayed at the newly established ‘Camp Glenorchy‘. Camp Glenorchy is a huge complex which opened in March 2018 and is New Zealand’s first Net Zero Energy accommodation provider. Its unique and amazing!

With conservation and smart energy planning at the forefront, Camp Glenorchy operates under the philosophy “Living Building Challenge’. This involves the most advanced environmental building design certification in the world!

I stayed in the ‘Manuka Cottage’ and immediately felt the harmonious pairing of materials and ambience. No surprises here though – only chemical free building materials are used – many of which have recycled origins.

 

The main building contains the small reception, a functional kitchen and very spacious lounge area. The polished concrete floors store the day sun.  The atmosphere is calming with beautiful music playing in the the background. Large maps of the area invite the traveller to step into their explorer mode.

At the moment, guests prepare their own breakfast. However, in the near future, Camp Glenorchy will provide a breakfast option at an additional cost.

Kinloch

For travellers wanting an even more remote location, another option is Kinloch Lodge. Now this accommodation is a little more basic but very comfortable.  The lodge rooms cater more for the backpacker market. For those requiring a more comfortable option, there are also eco cabins.  I have seen the eco cabins and can recommend them, especially in Autumn when the camping ground below, is not as busy.

Blanket Bay

Blanket Bay Lodge is one of New Zealand’s exclusive properties and is located on the lake itself. Guests staying here enjoy the utmost privacy and a premier level of luxury.

What to do in the Glenorchy region ?

Everyone is different and we all have varying ideas on how to spend their time in this pristine area. Some get active, others just seek peace and rest. Here is a list of options on what to do in the Glenorchy area: hiking, day walks, horse riding tours, Dart River Safaris, Lord of the Ring Tours, Farm Tours, Kayaking, Fishing, Photography, Arts & Crafts, Scenic flights etc.

Summary about staying in Glenorchy

Glenorchy is a place for travellers wanting to get away from the frantic energy of Queenstown. Now, it is busy during the day time with hordes from Queenstown visiting, but is more relaxed from the late afternoon. Travellers have shorter access to some of New Zealand’s key hiking highlights and stunning scenery. One key advice – do make time.  Any stay under 2 nights is not really worth it. Make sure you get to immerse yourself in the untouched paradise that is Glenorchy.

Happy travelling and contact us if you have any questions!

Off season travel New Zealand

It’s now late May/ early June and I guess Off season travel New Zealand is not so common, but there are advantages. I am travelling the West Coast of the South Island with some guests and it’s magic! The weather is calm, although it is quite a bit cooler. So far, the key places we have visited so far, we’ve had all to ourselves.  The locals are very relaxed and that’s the ideal recipe for a great holiday!

Cape Foulwind Bay

 

New Zealand travel months

The peak travel season in New Zealand is between November and March. But of course, there are many locals that would regard New Zealand’s best travel months as April and May. The month of June, through to October, are considered winter season in New Zealand. During these months, day light hours are shorter and temperatures are much lower.

Having key locations for yourself

Famous tourists spots such as Punakaiki, do receive a lot of attention and literally hordes of visitors during the peak season.

Off season travel New Zealand

But during the off season,  the difference is amazing. There’s hardly anyone around and you often have those key spots for yourself to enjoy. To many travellers,  this is an important part of their New Zealand travel experience.

Locals having more time

If we are all honest about this – during the summer most tourism businesses are ‘run off their feet’. Every minute is busy due to the large numbers coming through. During the off season, the locals seem to be more relaxed and have more time to share with visitors helping them and caring for their travel requirements. Today, all I could hear was the sound of the surf – bliss!

Punakaiki Rocks off season

Better prices during NZ’s off season

Prices are dictated by ‘supply and demand’. By travelling off season New Zealand, the prices come down and there’s so much more choice. This is borne out by lower rental car costs and a wider variety of accommodation (which are often sold out in summer). Prices will generally go down from April onwards.

Weather conditions during off season travel New Zealand

New Zealand weather is extremely changeable. Temperatures are much higher in the summer month (Dec-Feb). But what is often forgotten, is the wind and the rain! New Zealand receives its rainfall mainly between Oct – March. The off season months have actually less rain and definitely not as much wind. This is an important factor to consider when exploring the great outdoors. What clothes to bring?

Off season travel New Zealand

Summary – off season travel New Zealand

Travellers need to be aware of the pros & cons of travelling New Zealand during the off season. It’s a very rewarding and often more authentic experience – simply by having more space and time available. Sure, the weather might be a little cooler in the mornings and evening, but having done it myself many times, I can recommend the experience! Also, another blog on visiting North & South Island.

Happy travelling!

 

Forgotten World Highway New Zealand

Travel the Forgotten World Highway New Zealand

Curiously, most Kiwis have heard of the Forgotten World Highway New Zealand in Taranaki but no one has claimed to have actually travelled it.  They’ll tell you that they’ve always been meaning to, but never quite got round to it. Perhaps they may be put off thinking that it is an endless gravel road. However of the 155km route that is the Forgotten Highway, only 12kms is actually gravel. This beautiful scenic rural road lies between Stratford and Tauramanui (see Google map). It is off the beaten track so fill up with petrol before you start.

Forgotten World Highway signage

The Forgotten World Highway New Zealand can be found in the real heartland! Now for any scenic drive, it helps that the weather behaves itself.  These photos demonstrate the perfect day – ideal conditions for travelling a wonderland full of history.  These’s no chance of getting bored on this road – the scenery changes every 10 minutes First its a bit arid, ten it gets much greener – so green in fact that you might think you’re driving in Ireland!  When I travelled this road, it reminded me of classic ‘Hobbit’ country. This is a wall maintained safe road and you won’t see many motorists at all.  Actually on the day we travelled, there were only a few farmers transferring their cattle to another paddock. It pays to slow down and be friendly.

Forgotten World Highway New Zealand

 

New Zealand Road Travel at its best…

The road winds gently and sometimes you’ll travel through wisps of clouds but the sun very quick breaks through again. At some stage, the terrain transforms into a beautiful tropical rain forest:

The Forgotten World Highway Rainforest

Further along, do stop at the Tangarakau River bridge to stretch your legs and sniff the pure air (after reading the signing below, one has to feel terribly sorry for poor old Morgan)

Forgotten World Highway Bridge2

After a while you’ll head into the tiny “Republic of Whangamomona”. (Not really a Republic, but the locals would like to believe it is) Actually when the locals declared this settlement a Republic, their first appointed President lasted only 10 days. Their second President managed to last for 10 months, but he too, succumbed.  Perhaps in pure desperation, they finally voted in a dog which reigned supreme for 3 years – after which he stepped down after receiving death threats!

Forgotten World Highway New Zealand

Its important to be aware that the pub doesn’t open until 11.00 am!  So it pays to load up on snacks and maybe lunch, before you set out. Its a very quiet little settlement with just a few locals milling around. But they’re a friendly lot and definitely up for a chat. From here, it takes about an hour to reach the cute little town of Taumarunui. Try lunching at Ruddies Place Cafe – highly recommended.

Folks, the Forgotten World Highway is not for tourists but a hidden gem to be enjoyed by travellers. Here’s how one of our Facebook friends described it…”It’s a driver’s road. Passengers’ road. Photographer’s road. Landscape-lover’s road. Memorable road”. Thanks James, we couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

 

Happy travelling and enjoy your sister site GINZ.com

Travel Insurance Must Have

When travelling overseas, surely the top most thought in our minds, should be “Travel Insurance Must have”.  A lot of travellers pay attention to details like accommodation, transport and flights. They might even plan on where to dine and play golf! However, very often way down the list, is that all essential task of arranging travel travel insurance!

 

Travel Insurance Must Have

 

Serious travellers must have travel insurance

All sorts of unplanned events can happen while travelling overseas – they probably occur more frequently than we think. A lot of us have experienced flight delays because of extreme weather. And it’s not uncommon for a close relative to pass away and trips have to be rearranged. Let’s not forget the dreaded inconvenience of missing luggage and having to buy and replace our stuff in the interim.  But there’s also that massive cost of medical emergencies while travelling abroad.  What happens when you need hospital care or emergency surgery? Seriously, being faced with thousands of dollars worth of medical care is a daunting prospect!

 

Two stories on travel insurance

We had a client travelling through New Zealand who shortly after her arrival, began to feel ill. She continued on with her travelling companion. Near the end of their trip she fell dangerously ill and was unable to return to Europe as planned. Due to the seriousness of her condition, a doctor from Europe had to fly over to New Zealand and accompany her back to Europe. An ambulance was waiting for her at Vienna airport. Can you imagine the cost! Luckily she had solid health insurance which covered all medical costs, accommodation and the repatriation charge.

 

Another sample is that of a young couple spending their honeymoon in New Zealand. We never think about younger people falling ill, but they do. One of them had to have emergency surgery  – totally unexpected. This involved hospital costs, flight amendments and additional nights of stay in New Zealand. The point is, these stories can happen to anyone at anytime. Having a good travel insurance package is really ‘non-negotiable’ and “Travel Insurance Must Have” should be given top priority when travelling overseas.

 

travelling with insurance is a must have

 

Travel insurance must have – worth every penny

Travel insurance costs are really minimal compare to the overall cost of an overseas trip. Here are some important facts you need to be aware of:

– travel insurance is best purchased when you do your travel reservations (to cover any unforeseeable cancellation costs).
– insurance is based on your country of origin, what category of passport holder you are and on the destination country.
– costs are based on your age, pre-existing medical issues, and the duration of your travel.
– there are some credit cards that provide travel insurance – but there are ‘traps’.  Read their terms and conditions very carefully. You want achieve 100% coverage!


Summary:
you need to buy your insurance in your home country. There are some online travel insurance options – such as Lonely Planet Travel insurance – which navigate around those issues nicely.

 

Other travel blogs you maybe interested in: Forgotten Highway Self-drive North Island and Visiting North & South Island?

 

Healthy Travelling!

 

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