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Thai travellers journey around the South Island of New Zealand
- Part 1

Cholatis Sanchaypiengpen - 01/10/07

After a lot of thought we decided that our itinerary must include special places – Christchurch, the Glaciers Region, Queenstown, Te Anau, Milford Sound , Oamaru, the Mackenzie Country, and Lake Tekapo.

The intention for this trip was to visit friends and former host families whom I stayed with when I was a student. However, the plan has gotten bigger as a few people would like to join the trip and I did not have many chances to travel around during my studies so a proper tourist plan was made.

It was quite scary to go from summer in Bangkok which was about 39+ degrees Celsius to the beginning of winter in New Zealand where it was snowing a few days before our departure.

First day (Friday 4 May 2007): Bangkok – Christchurch

We departed Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand at 6.30 pm. The flight followed a tropical storm on the way to Kingsford Smith Airport, Sydney, Australia, for transit in the morning. It was a rough flight but we reached Christchurch International Airport, Christchurch, New Zealand safely in the afternoon of the second day. We had been warned that Christchurch would be really cold and wet. The cold would be expected as we were there in May and the season would be changing to the beginning of winter.

Suvarnbhumi Airport (read: Su-wan-na-poom, based on Sanskrit: Swarna = Gold, Bhumi = Land).
Suvarnbhumi Airport (read: Su-wan-na-poom, based on Sanskrit: Swarna = Gold, Bhumi = Land).
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Second day (Saturday 5 May): Christchurch

We have reached Christchurch International Airport about 1.30 in the afternoon. We went to pick up our rental car. The weather was brilliant, blue sky and warm weather though we were told that it was raining in the morning. We went to pick up our rental mini van and did a bit of grocery shopping for our trip. We went to a warm welcome dinner with two of my former host families, then back to the Motel. Two days have passed and we have not done much of the travelling.

Brilliant blue sky at the rental car service, our car was the mini van on the right.
Brilliant blue sky at the rental car service, our car was the mini van on the right.
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Back to our motel on Riccarton Road, Christchurch for the night.


Third day (Sunday 6 May): Christchurch – Arthur's Pass – Hokitika – Glaciers Region

We were heading to the Glaciers Region through Arthur's Pass on this day. We took the state highway 73 heading toward Arthur's Pass.

Arthur's Pass was named after Arthur Dudley Dobson who discovered the way from the Canterbury Plains to the West Coast by cutting across the Southern Alps.

(Note: Some information on the histories and names were from the tour guide book, NZ Map, the itinerary that our Thai agency has prepared for us, and some were from my memories).

To be sure that we were in New Zealand, we saw plenty of sheep along the way. The mountain range came closer as we were heading toward Arthur's Pass.
To be sure that we were in New Zealand, we saw plenty of sheep along the way.
The mountain range came closer as we were heading toward Arthur's Pass.
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Spectacular scenery along the roads as we came to Castle Hill.
Spectacular scenery along the roads as we came to Castle Hill.
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We were a bit disappointed that the beauty of the scenery was reduced in the photos compared to our own experience and feeling of the breeze and the smell of grass.

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Passing what I believed was the Waimakariri River (Waimakariri means cold, rushing water). The Waimakariri River flows from the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean. The colour was milky blue and water level was quite low during the year and would turn quite brown during the snow melting time and flooded along the river bank. I went white baiting with friends once at the Waimakariri River near Kaiapoi. That means 'food depot' but we caught nothing!

img 4311
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Heading into the Pass there was a sudden change of weather. We managed to take photos that looked nice for the desktop wallpaper, only I got quite annoyed with whatever pole was in the middle - or was it quite nice for the contrasting view.

img 0262 img 0263
Picture almost perfect
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From Arthur's Pass heading toward the West Coast, we came through a one lane bridge which also shared with the railway.

img 4318
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After we came out from the Pass, we headed on to state highway 6 toward Hokitika as we preferred to reach the motel before dark. So we missed out on the Pancake rock and the blowholes at Punakaiki. Hokitika is famous for New Zealand green stone or Pounamu. (It was a bad idea to look for lunch on Sunday, but we did have some food with us.)

We finally reached the Franz Josef region and felt we must take a small walk to the scenic point.


Hokitika
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On the way we saw Ponga or New Zealand Silver Fern. It was a shame that we could not get the true colour of it as the sun was going down.

silver fern
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After a short walk, we reached the point where we could see the Franz Josef Glacier. It was named after an Austrian Emperor by the German explorer, Julius von Haast.

The weather was really wet and humid on the West Coast. We experienced four seasons in one day as it was warm, sunny, and mild in the morning and turned quite cold and rainy at the West Coast. We reached the motel at the Fox Glacier region just before dark and turned in for the night.

Thai travellers journey around the South Island of New Zealand - Part 2

Photos for this article were supplied by Cholatis Sanchaypiengpen.


Editor's comment
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