Author Topic: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings  (Read 165075 times)

Offline benjie1305

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #120 on: January 25, 2016, 10:04:03 PM »
I would still do SQuites.  I may consider the non-stop if the SIN-CHC route was operated by a 77W, but it's operated by a 772 or 77L without F at all.

For a 3-4 hour difference (a time which one can almost guarantee with “Flexi-time” fares), I'd prefer the A380.  At this point, if it was operated by a 77W, I'd probably skip the extra leg and go non-stop.

Right - I did see it only having J. I guess if it is indeed only an easy 3-4 hours extra, 10 hours in R versus J is a big difference.

On a side note, was there a reason you did SQ HKG-SIN-AKL instead of adding SIN to the JFK-HKG leg on CX?
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Offline AJK

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #121 on: January 25, 2016, 10:12:01 PM »
On a side note, was there a reason you did SQ HKG-SIN-AKL instead of adding SIN to the JFK-HKG leg on CX?

Simple.

The main award, via US Air, was:

JFK-HKG (CX F) // HKG-DXB (CX J)-LHR (QF F)-JFK (BA F)



As booked, the award only cost me 120K per person. (US Air, oiy, may it rest in peace.)

Had I added HKG-SIN (Y, J, or F), it would have cost me 160K per person. By adding HKG-SIN onto the SQ award (which I did) it cost me precisely 0 extra.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2016, 10:15:13 PM by AJK »
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Offline benjie1305

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #122 on: January 25, 2016, 10:19:10 PM »
Simple.

The main award, via US Air, was:

As booked, the award only cost me 120K per person. (US Air, oiy, may it rest in peace.)

Had I added HKG-SIN (Y, J, or F), it would have cost me 160K per person. By adding HKG-SIN onto the SQ award (which I did) it cost me precisely 0 extra.

Got it. I knew I must have missed something as in the regular CX vs SQ scenario adding HKG <> SIN onto either leg would also

cost me precisely 0 extra.
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Offline benjie1305

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #123 on: January 25, 2016, 10:24:44 PM »
I just looked up the RV's you posted, are they really pricing out around the same as the equivalent of B+Bs and a car rental for the stay?

Those RV's I looked at all looked quite pricey (well over $3000 for 8 days) and if a B+B is around ~$150 a night and a car rental is around ~$550 for 8 days how does it price out in favor of the RV?
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Offline IsraelGuy

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #124 on: February 09, 2016, 10:32:26 AM »
More more!

Planning a NZ trip now, also mostly south Island,  and can't wait to see hear about the rv experience and the trip :)


Offline shoobi

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #125 on: February 09, 2016, 10:37:44 AM »
With a new baby now? Chances are similar to finding LAX-SYD in QF F

Offline IsraelGuy

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #126 on: February 11, 2016, 04:20:37 PM »
With a new baby now? Chances are similar to finding LAX-SYD in QF F

We can always dream can't we?  ;D

Offline IsraelGuy

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #127 on: May 04, 2016, 11:54:50 AM »
How did electricity work in the motorhome-did certain things only work when the motorhome was plugged into overnight?

Was the shower usable at all?

Any other motorhome tips?

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #128 on: May 04, 2016, 12:39:16 PM »
How did electricity work in the motorhome-did certain things only work when the motorhome was plugged into overnight?

Was the shower usable at all?

Any other motorhome tips?

The electrics (lights, power outlets, TV, etc.) run off a battery that's charged by the engine. The battery is generally enough for a full overnight with the engine off.

A/C and the microwave need to either be plugged in or run off the generator (which could be also used in lieu of the battery if needed). Some A/C units may need to be plugged into a high-voltage line, which not all campsites have (if they do, it'll be clearly stated).

The heating (water and air), stove, and fridge are run off the propane tank.

The showers are great, with plenty of water for at least two consecutive ones.

(All this is for a typical motorhome, there will obviously be exceptions.)
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Offline AJK

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #129 on: May 04, 2016, 01:52:08 PM »
SF has it down basically.

In my RV, there was no generator, so we needed ground power to run microwave. I don't recall if my RV had A/C, but it was a non-issue because at night we needed heat, which we used by turning on gas and warming it up, nice and toasty.

Shower worked well, all things considered, but it's a far cry from showing in the Splash Suite at the Andaz 5th avenue...
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Offline avadah

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #130 on: October 06, 2016, 08:51:47 AM »
{Looking around, twiddling  thumbs} 99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles  of  beer...

Offline Something Fishy

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{Looking around, twiddling  thumbs} 99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles  of  beer...

...If one of those bottles should happen to fall, what a waste of alcohol.

98 bottles of beer on the wall, 98 bottles of beer...
« Last Edit: October 06, 2016, 09:15:15 AM by Something Fishy »
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Offline Super Speed

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...If one of those bottles should happen to fall, what a waste of alcohol.

98 bottles of beer on the wall, 98 bottles of beer...
...If one of those bottles should happen to fall, what a waste of alcohol.

97 bottles of beer on the wall, 97 bottles of beer...


Offline IsraelGuy

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Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #133 on: November 28, 2016, 11:23:24 PM »
...If one of those bottles should happen to fall, what a waste of alcohol.

97 bottles of beer on the wall, 97 bottles of beer...

...If one of those bottles should happen to fall, what a waste of alcohol.

96 bottles of beer on the wall, 96 bottles of beer...

Offline AJK

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #134 on: November 28, 2016, 11:36:12 PM »
I'm about halfway through a decent length segment. Will try to find time in the coming days to finalize and publish.

We appreciate your patience and look forward to your future patronage.
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Offline Luvtotravel

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #135 on: November 29, 2016, 09:55:24 AM »
We appreciate your patience and look forward to your future patronage.
love the WE! is this a mrs. ajk special?
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Offline AJK

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Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #136 on: November 29, 2016, 10:10:51 AM »
Not specifically, but she's always a contributing editor.
2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper

Offline Luvtotravel

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Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #137 on: November 29, 2016, 10:34:18 AM »
Not specifically, but she's always a contributing editor.
well, you (plural connotation) have my patronage. looking forward.
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Offline 12HRS

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #138 on: November 29, 2016, 09:01:49 PM »
I'm about halfway through a decent length segment. Will try to find time in the coming days to finalize and publish.

We appreciate your patience and look forward to your future patronage.

Goes to show that a well timed teaser doesn't need a photo to whet the appetite. Don't tell something fishy

Offline AJK

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #139 on: December 23, 2016, 01:10:41 AM »
Thursday: Picking up the RV

Sure enough, about 15 minutes later, one of the employees from Wilderness, the RV company, rolls up in one of the smaller RVs. He asks how our flight was and how long we intend to tour. We respond, "a bit under two weeks." And he says, "Well, you may as well book tickets to return because, gosh, that isn't nearly enough time."

Awesome.

We quickly loaded our luggage and off we went to the company headquarters to pick up our RV.  After going back and forth, we decided to splurge and purchase the highest level insurance (read: not cheap) after he told me (i) how expensive the RVs were. and (ii) that I could drive it off a cliff and be covered. Sold!  [It was a couple years later that I found out that Citi covers RVs!]

I then told him my grand plan:  Head north to see some seals, do some whale watching, head to Abel Tasman for Shabbas, head down the west coast for some unbelievable scenery, hikes, glaciers, Milford sound, then off to Te Anau for the glow worms, then to Queenstown for some action, then up to the beautiful lakes, then back to CHC.






...and I was met with this (from him and the rest of the office):








Awesome.  Weeks of planning gone. Poof.

When he recovered, he said: "First, you'd need a chopper to do all of that in 12 days. Second, the weather is supposed to be rainy in the north, so allow me to suggest you start going south, where the weather is sunnier now. Something like this:




He was persuasive. And he sounded like he knew what he was talking about. Fine. We'll just have to come back and do the rest.  With that, we walked outside and he showed us how the RV worked--how to drive, how to add water, how to clean waste, etc.  We then packed up our beautiful RV with food, candy, snacks, and clothes (we left the suitcases and cooler in their office) and we were off.

First stop, grocery shopping.  First problem, "how the heck do we park this thing in the parking lot?"

Seriously, we went to a grocery store and glaringly stuck out of every parking spot we tried to fit in by a good eight feet. And it's not like we could just take two spots--the lot was *packed.* We wondered what other tourists do. We debated on what we should do. We wondered if we needed groceries at all. And then we decided to just park with our back end sticking out and hope for the best.

Mrs. AJK ran and began grocery shopping while I went to next door for... a haircut. What... I needed one. And besides, our RV was only sticking out eight feet blocking one lane of parking lot traffic, not both.

Anyway, wow are groceries in AKL expensive. I think eight eggs were like $11 USD or something ridiculous like that. After spending part of my yerushah, we were grateful to find that our RV was neither ticketed nor towed, thanked God, loaded up and off we went, with Mrs. AJK as navigator.  It was about 7:30-8:00 PM.

First stop: Lake Tekapo Holiday Park, about a three hour drive.





A relatively short drive, one I could ordinarily do in my sleep, er, perhaps that's a bad way of putting it.  Let's just say neither of us were prepared for the upcoming and overbearing onslaught of fatigue.  Flying from JFK to HKG to SIN to AKL to CHC without sleep in a bed, even in First, took its toll like Katrina "took its toll" on New Orleans.  We battled hard. We sang. We did the "freeze out" where one opens all windows at 65+ mph and is met with a blast of cool air. We did interpretive dance to blaring music. Alas, Mrs. AJK could not prevail.

I kid you not. It got to a point where we were so ungodly exhausted that Mrs. AJK would turn to me, and ask: "Are you OK to drive? Should we pull over?" and would fall asleep after EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. Literally it was, "Are..." head down... "you..." head succumbed... "OK..." down again... "to..." snoring for 3 minutes... "drive?" You get the point. Finally, she realized she didn't have that much time between what seemed like brief glimpses of consciousness that she blurted it out really quickly "AreyouOKtodriveShouldwepullover!" and then fell back asleep. God bless her, she tried.

As for me, well, I don't recall a point in my life being as tired. Can't really explain it. And, looking back, I should have just pulled over. I mean, we were already in an RV with two beds!

Finally, after what seemed like a yovel, the GPS indicated we were five minutes away.  I began praising the Lord effusively. We pulled up to the office at about 11:30PM, and it had long since closed. But RV parks leave directions for entry outside the office and you're expected to pay in the morning. So, we took the directions and followed the highlighted paper to our RV spot.  Once we parked, I hopped out and connected us to 220 volt power (to be able to use the microwave) and we ate a sumptuous dinner of swedish meatballs. Satiated, we buttoned down the hatches, turned on the heat and instantly fell into a much-needed sleep.

Friday: Lake Tekapo, St. John Observatory, Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Hilton Queenstown

A snapshot of Friday’s drive:




After a warm, restful, and comfortable night of sleep, we woke up early Friday morning to a breakfast of American cereal which we had brought with us.  Incidentally, when I mentioned to Wilderness RV that they could take out all of the silverware, pots, and pans that were included with the RV on account us keeping Kosher, they graciously offered to stock the RV with brand new silverware, pots, and pans, etc. A very nice gesture.

When we finished eating, I hopped out, disconnected us from "shore" power and took a couple snaps of our beauty.

DSC00511 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00512 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Before I forget, allow me to take this opportunity to highly recommend the Kauai Revealed-level-bible for New Zealand: NZ Frenzy (http://www.nzfrenzy.com/). If you don’t have 3 months to plan every facet of your trip to AKL--and even if you do--get this book.  It has every sight you’d want to see, and some you don't (which the author tells you to skip), in easy to read, digestible chunks, with ratings of hikes, GPS coordinates, and great descriptions. In fact, the descriptions are so evocative and compelling, I’ll include some here for your reading pleasure, set off in quotes, to make sure everyone is clear such portions come from that book.

Anyway, we packed up the RV and headed down to Lake Tekapo, the first of the stunning lakes we saw in AKL.  Just by way of background, the reason why New Zealand lakes are that distinctive gorgeous blue/aqua is due to glacial flour, which is fine-grained, silt-sized particles of rock, generated by mechanical grinding of bedrock by glacial erosion.  When the flour enters the river, it stains the color of the water, and when that river flows into a glacial lake (formed by a melting glacier), then the water turns turquoise.

Quote
Lake Tekapo’s aquamarine blue color is simply beyond description. On a sunny day it’s jaw-drop, eye-boggling beautiful. You NEED to see it! On a grey day the beauty dims, but the blue opacity of the lake water still impresses. Lake Tekapo is the postcard-perfect fabled beauty of New Zealand. There’s not much for travelers to do at Lake Tekapo other than just stare at the lake and take yet another photo, but there are a few options. The lake is glacier-cold year-round, so don’t plan on swimming. Mostly just plan for a laid-back day of relaxing eye-candy.

DSC00513 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00519 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



After a few shots from ground-level, we headed to up to Mount John Observatory to view Lake Tekapo from “on high,” a 15 min drive up a rather steep hill. And, boy, if we thought Lake Tekapo was beautiful from below, this was a real treat.

Quote
This celestial observatory, some 300m above the town atop 1,031m Mt John, is a MUST-SEE! The 360° view from the Mt John’s Astro Café is beyond fabulous! Of course the view over Lake
Tekapo to the distant snow-capped peaks steals the show, but on a sunny day look for the peak of Mt. Cook/Aoraki poking over the western ridgeline.

DSC00558 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00560 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00573 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



It was a bit chilly up there, so we headed into Astro Cafe to grab a warm cup of joe.

DSC00576 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00575 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



From Mount John Observatory we drove 90 minutes to the Tasman Glacier, the longest in New Zealand at more than 17 miles. 

Here's a quick shot from the way down from the observatory:

DSC00579 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



But, before arriving, we stopped off at Lake Pukaki, another one of the gorgeous New Zealand lakes. [In the first picture, you can see Mt. Cook in the background, the tallest mountain in NZ.]

DSC00609 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00614 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Fortuitously, we stumbled upon the Mt. Cook Alpine Salmon Shop, which had some of the freshest looking salmon we’ve ever seen. 

DSC00623 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00625 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



It was far from cheap (I think it was like $30 for two of the pieces below), but given the reviews of the other people there, we just had to try, so we picked up some smoked salmon to go, for a snack during our ascent up to Mt. Cook.  It was incredible.  For the record, though we’re not sashimi people, the sashimi looked very good as well.

DSC00629 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Finally, it was time to head up towards the Tasman Glacier, “on the way to which we got some pretty good pictures”--which to be honest, is the common refrain in New Zealand.

DSC00634 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00636 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00640 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00641 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Once we arrived at the Tasman Glacier Car Park, we took the Tasman Glacier View Track up to see the view.

DSC00646 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Quote
The 15-minute steep stepped-track to the top of the Tasman Glacier’s moraine ridge is amazing. The track is steep, but the payoff is worth it! The view sweeps over the entire glacial lake and its scattered flotilla of icebergs. This birds-eye view down onto the glacial toe and lake is quite unlike any on the Hooker Valley/Lake track. The Tasman Glacier itself hardly looks like a glacier, given that it’s covered with a heap of black rubble with only small slices of white showing up through its rubble covering.

Once at the top, we were treated with this view.

DSC00665 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Just to give you an idea as to how large those two icebergs are, here’s a photo of just them.


DSC00658 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

See that speck off to the left of the icebergs? Yeah, that’s a zodiac:



And, then, turning back toward to car park, we were treated to this wondrous view:

DSC00674 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00682 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Our trusty steed:

DSC00687 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Once back in the RV, we settled in for what was undoubtedly going to be a beautiful drive to Queenstown.  Except what they don’t tell you is that it’s nearly impossible to just do the drive without stopping every 500 feet for another beautiful picture.  And so it was.

Glacier water floweth towards the mountains...

DSC00688 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



The Ahuriri Bridge.  Midway through the bridge, we looked over the side and saw a gorgeous array of interesting looking flowers.  Of course, we stopped, took some pics, and picked a few flowers (for shabbas!).

DSC00708 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00699 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00704 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Lake Dunstan:

DSC00713 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Roaring Meg, a turbulent stream that drives a hydro-electric power station and merges with the Kawarau River, which runs between the towns of Cromwell and Queenstown:

DSC00718 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Famous South Island Vineyards:

DSC00729 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



At about 4:00 PM, we arrived at the Hilton Queenstown, which was definitely one of the nicest Hilton’s at which we’ve stayed:

DSC00731 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Fortunately, we were upgraded to a suite, which was lovely. 

DSC00735 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00745 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00737 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00740 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00739 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00741 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Once we unpacked, we went for a quick swim in their pool, heated up two POM meals (steak and stuffed cabbage), brought in shabbas, ate, and slept in the most comfortable beds I think we’ve ever slept in.  I'd say we started off the trip with a bang.
2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper