Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Penguin Sightseeing Again in Oamaru and Visiting Moeraki Boulders on the Road Trip to Dunedin (Day 4)

Penguins sightseeing at Bushey Beach Road

Both of me and my friend Yen, wanted to sightsee more penguins in a group. So, we decided to drive to the beach again from the hostel early in the morning. It’s about dawn when we reached the beach and I was amazed by the beautiful background at there.

This time we tried to hide far from the penguins so that they won't be surprised by us and run from us. We knew that they’re so shy. Initially, we just saw 2 Yellow-eyed Penguins.

Then we waited and waited. Yes! Finally we saw the cute penguins marching one by one as if in a queue heading to the sea. We were very excited indeed to watch them, they worth our waiting. However, we’re unable to take pictures of them from the faraway distance but it’s easier to take photos of penguins while they’re isolated from a group.

The mission of penguins viewing was over, so we left Oamaru and moved ahead our itinerary to the next destination, Moeraki Boulders.

Set on the Otago coast, Moeraki Boulders is one of the popular attractions in South Island that many travellers will pay a visit. Suggested by Yen, we also took about 35 minute drive and 40 km to visit the tourism site departing from Oamaru. In fact, Moeraki Boulders is within a short distance for those who drive from Dunedin or Cromwell too. To find out the distance, driving time as well as how to get there, simply check at

You'll see the Moeraki Cafe, Bar and Gift Shop when you reach there. The exact location of the shop is at 7 Moeraki Boulders Rd, RD2, Palmeston, East Otago 9482. The cafe offers a great range of food. You may also visit the shop for some beautiful souvenirs, clothings and jewelry.

The Moeraki Boulders are lying along Koekohe Beach between Moeraki and Hampden. According to Wikipedia, the boulders are grey-colored septarian concretions comprise mud, clay fine silt and cemented by calcite; they created from the mudstone with the effect of coastal erosion. When you arrived at the beach, you'll see the most eye-catching large sphere-shaped boulders with a portion of smaller and non-spherical stones. Amazing!

Moraeki Boulders set along the beach

The bolders are sphere-shaped & large in size

This extraordinary bolder with deep hole & cracks always get attention from visitors
A smaller and non-spherical stone

Monday, 19 November 2012

Exploring Oamaru (Day 3)

After spending hours of sleep in the car last night, Yen and I woke up early in the morning and planned to explore the places in Oamaru.

Oamaru CBD

This city was quiet indeed and I didn’t see many passengers in the downtown, although it’s the largest town in the region of North Otago. Both of us knew that penguin sightseeing was the core reason we came here, we would like to see if there’re any other attractions in this place though. What I found eye-catching was the magnificent architecture around the heritage premises.

Bank of New South Wales & The National Bank(left)

North Otago Museum

Restaurant & bakery shops

Catholic Church

We paid a visit to the local museum, church and the historical Public Gardens before we grabbed the chance to watch penguins. It's the best time to visit the Public Gardens during autumn as the combination of plants in yellow to brown made it a beautiful environment for a nature walk. To visit this garden, either enters through Severn Street or Chelmer Street.

 Our friend reminded us not to miss the free penguin viewing from nature and she also told us to get more information from the I-site about the location and appropriate times to watch those lovely penguins. At first, I drove to Bushy Beach Road and we had the attempt during night time. Both of us tried our luck waiting for penguins to come while walking along the track quietly up to the hill, but we didn't see any single one :(

Being disappointed, we’re going to walk down and leave. Well, I sensed something on my left at the moment while walking down the track. Then, I turned my head and looked. Oh my god! There’re 2 huge penguins standing pretty close to me and they’re Yellow-eyed Penguins! I quickly whispered to my friend about their presence. We’re extremely excited to catch their pictures. Afterward, we tried in vain to see more penguins at the spot but nothing more, at least we got to see penguins as we wished.

 Yellow-eyed Penguins

We didn't give up so soon, so we went to the harbour. What we saw was another kind of penguin – Blue Penguin. So far we only saw one little Blue Penguin. It's smaller than Yellow-eyed Penguin and very adorable.
Blue Penguin

Still the same little one

The second night in Oamaru, we checked in the Empire Hotel Backpackers where our friend stayed. I highly recommend this hostel to you as this was one of the best hostels I had ever stayed in New Zealand. It’s located at the main street in Oamaru and the accommodation was inexpensive but with quality. I especially felt warm and comfortable to spend the night in the hostel, after the previous night that we slept in the car :P

Front view of Empire Hotel Backpackers

Empire Hotel Backpackers

Tel: (04) 434 3446

Add: 13 Thames Street Oamaru 9495 NZ

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Set Off from Christchurch to Timaru and Omaru (Day 2)

In the morning after we checked out from the hostel we stayed in Christchurch, we're fresh and excited again to continue our driving journey down to Timaru. In the middle of the journey, we stopped the car at the roadside when we saw some nice views and wanted to take some photos. It's true that I was same as my friend, we liked to take as many photos as possible ;P

In Maori language, Timaru may mean ‘Place of Shelter’ – Te Maru. Timaru is a township belongs to Canterbury Region in South Island and it could be reached through driving along the State Highway 1 from Christchurch. The distance between Christchurch and Timaru is 163km and it takes about 2 1/3 hours.

Timaru downtown

We arrived in Timaru a little earlier than afternoon, so we drove through the town before we got to a cafe for our lunch. That day was 19th May and it’s my birthday as well, I still remember that I had lasagna and milk shake as my birthday lunch with Yen :)
After the lunch, Yen and I had a casual window shopping in downtown, had a nature walk in open parks and also visited the churches as well as premises with beautiful architecture. 

I-site building and the sculpture of Captain Henry Cain in front of the buiding

Steak @ Custom House(Old Customs House) at Strathallan St

St Mary's Anglican Church at Church St

Chalmers Presbyterian Church at Elizaberth St

A relaxing public park for nature walk

Railway across Timaru on the coastline

Timaru was quiet during our visit and I still recall it’s a weekday. We didn't stay overnight in the town as we thought it’s enough for a day walk. Therefore, I continued to drive to the next town Oamaru before the sky was dark.

Owing to late autumn, the day was getting dark really soon. Moreover, the weather was pretty cold. In the halfway of the road journey, I could hardly judge the distance between cars and drive properly due to the fog. All I could do was just followed the rear lights of the car in front and drove slowly. I actually almost couldn't see anything else outside the car except the heavy mist and I told my friend in joke that we as if somewhere in the heaven, lol!

It usually takes 1 hour and 5 minute drive from Timaru to Oamaru. Due to the bad driving condition that we faced on the day, we actually took more than that. It's already dark when we arrived in Oamaru and nothing much we could visit at that night. Still, we noticed that a friend of ours is also traveling and she’s in Oamaru too. Hence, we joined her for couple of hours in the hostel she’s staying. The hostel seemed like a nice accomodation. Anyhow, Yen and I didn't sleep in the hostel at that night as we wanted an attempt to sleep in the vehicle as some other backpackers did. To be frank, it's not really comfortable for us to sleep in the car mainly because the weather during autumn was extremely cold throughout the night

Monday, 5 November 2012

Hit the Road to Kaikoura and Christchurch from Picton (Day 1)

Leaving from Picton, I drove the car along East Coast on the State Highway 1(SH1) to Kaikoura. In fact, Kaikoura is a small town with the population not more than 5000 residents. It’s a beautiful place lies on the East Coast of South Island with the combination of ocean and mountains. Derived from Maori word, Kaikoura is a name means ‘meal of crayfish’, so I guess it has the possibility of having abundant of this seafood?!

Kaikoura Town and mountains could be seen from the town

One of the greatest activities for visitors to Kaikoura is swim with the dolphins

Remarkable river view with mountains

Trees planted along the seaside and created a great environment for nature walk

Amazing mountains & ocean view in the late afternoon

Kaikoura is rich with nature and marine life. It’s certainly a popular destination for whale (mainly Sperm Whales) watching and dolphin swimming. However they’re not in our must-do list, so Yen and I only stopped off the town area in the late afternoon before continue the driving to Christchurch.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

11 Day South Island Itinerary Planning

About 2 months staying and working in Nelson, I saved some money and decided to leave earlier than the packing season end. I knew I would attain a decent bonus like everyone else if I worked pending the season end, but I didn't care too much. I just wanted to travel with my friend Yen before winter came and we planned on taking 11 days for a trip to visit certain parts of South Island.

My planned itinerary:

Picton - Kaikoura – Christchurch – Timaru – Oamaru – Dunedin – Wanaka - Queenstown – Mountain Cook - Arrowtown – Lake Tekapo - Christchurch

We had booked a car from Ace Rental Cars in Picton. Consequently, we left Nelson to Picton by bus and picked up the car on the same first day of our trip. We also planned to return the car in Christchurch. I guess the cost for car rentals in New Zealand is relatively cheaper than in Australia. However, be careful when dealing with the car rentals company. I had an unpleasant experience in this matter as the authority person charged us more than what we were told over the phone. I did not want to affect my plan, so I still paid her after a negotiation.

This was the car we rented for traveling South Island