Te Anau – Milford Road

22nd March, 2015.

Rise and shine! I didn’t bother bathing (sejuk bedi kot!) but I did go to brush my teeth and wash my face by the Wakatipu Lake. There was a sense of awe that God has given me the chance to witness the beauty that is Wakatipu, and I prayed that I would be given equal chances to see more of the world again.

We headed back on the unsealed road towards Glenorchy, and made our way to Queenstown.


The road to Queenstown

The highway turns south to follow the southeastern shore of the lake, skirting the foot of The Remarkables and the Hector Mountains. This stretch of the highway is in part tortuously winding, and rises and falls over a stretch known as “The Devil’s Staircase”. – Wikipedia.

Driving up and down the Tangga Setan as it was aptly named was exhilarating. It was windy and the lake, the skies were picture perfect. We made a pitstop at one of the lookout point, but of course the photos are still in Syaiful’s GoPro.

Somewhere along the jalan kampung, a rigorous policewoman caught thambi speeding at 100 km/hour. That was how we got out infringement ticket from New Zealand. NZD 80 from the pocket. Hahha.

A word of warning to the motorhome drivers: stick to 90 km/hour or risk paying NZD 80.

We made it to Te Anau around noon. It was a quaint and picturesque little town right by its namesake lake. We made a pitstop at the Info Centre for toilet break, and of course to ask about Milford Road camping sites and its accessibility.


Road to Piopiotahi

One of the things that I love about New Zealand is the comprehensive ways the government tries to provide information to the tourists. There are dozens of pamphlets on one particular area, by the time you finish reading them you’d know the place like the back of your hand.

I asked the lady at the counter, “So madam, could you please tell me where the last flushing toilet is along Milford Road?” Since my mother’s acquaintance with long-drop toilet didn’t impress her much. The lady nicely pointed out Knobs Flat out of many DOC sites along Milford Road. Ok, not bad at all.

Milford Road itself has a pretty amazing history. One of the most scenic roads in New Zealand, it is also one of the most dangerous too, with injury crash rates at 65 %. Very treacherous, very exciting, very remarkable.

We did stop by Knobs Flat. It had proper flushing toilets and powered sites, but we didn’t feel the pull. Besides, the view was quite subpar compared to the rest of the journey. So we continued down the road…

One of the most prominent parts of the highway is of course the Homer Tunnel.The tunnel pierces the Homer Saddle, and measures at 1.2 km long. Dark, single-laned. It made us wonder with the amount of money New Zealand is receiving, they still can’t properly seal and provide proper lighting for the tunnel. Maybe they need to take a page or two from our Terowong Menora and Smart Tunnel. Hmm.

After the tunnel, all hell breaks loose. Why? Look at the photo stolen from another website below.

milford road

Everyday is a winding road. Tralalalala

Again, my thambi outdid himself with his driving.

We put up a night at one of the two accommodations available in Milford Sound, Milford Sound Lodge. It is hidden in the bush, right next to a river with a beautiful view of the mountains.


Milford Sound Lodge

But alas, the sandflies were reigning here.


Hi there, Te Namu

Kinloch, Wakatipu

21st March, 2015.

Lake Hawea Holiday Park boasts one wonderful thing (apart from the lake itself, of course): a double cabin right at the edge of the lake, with a glass window overlooking the turquoise waters.

So honeymooners, that’s my tip of the day for you. Of course I didn’t take a photo of that cabin. Go and find out how it looks like yourself.

We drove out after breakfast, as usual. By now you should know every inch of South Island is scenic, so I shall spare you the details. The most remarkable part of the journey is of course the Crown Range Road.

Crown Range lies between Wanaka and Queenstown. The road, is the highest main road in New Zealand. It’s definitely not a drive for the faint-hearted; my thambi really outdid himself with the drive. While others struggled with their brakes, he practically cruised down the winding road towards Queenstown. We felt safe being chauffeured around by him. But of course, don’t tell him that. Hahha.

The beautiful Crown Range Road

The beautiful Crown Range Road

We made a pitstop for lunch at Queenstown. Thambi was so happy to find halal chicken in the form of Nandos. For muslim travellers’ information, most supermarkets ie Pak & Save sell halal meat and poultry.

We decided not to put up a night in busy Queenstown, instead making our way to Glenorchy. It is a small town located on the northern part of Lake Wakatipu. The drive along Wakatipu’s eastern shoreline is relaxing and beautiful. Don’t let the size of the town put you off, Glenorchy in fact has been the backdrop for many movies; ie: The Lord of the Rings, Vertical Limits, Narnia, to name a few. It is also the starting point for the famous Routeburn Track.


Towards Glenorchy

Initially we drove to Benmore Place by the edge of Lake Wakatipu to camp, but we find not much privacy apart from lack of proper facilities around.

So I took a stab on luck and decided to drive to Kinloch instead. :D

Kinloch is a very small settlement by the northwestern head of Lake Wakatipu. So secluded it is that the road was still unsealed by March 2015. Initially we thought we were heading to nowhere, but we were more convinced when we saw a couple of cars going towards the same direction. We passed by a few shrubs and stream before the view opened up to a large grassy field and a single mansion on top of a small mountain. That’s the Kinloch Lodge.

Opposite to the lodge is the DOC site. The view makes up for its lack of facilities but it’s okay, we were planning to rough in anyway.


Our motorhome by the lake


The calm before the rain (wasn’t quite a storm)

Appa tried his hand at fishing again, to no avail. Umpan ikan Malaysia low standard kut compared to New Zealand punya ikan. Hua hua. Fortunately, appa made friends with a fellow avid fisherman, whose favorite catch is the trout. He explained Wakatipu is filled with them (but how come bapak payah nak lekat kat umpan??) and he warned appa from going towards the river mouth as the tides can be strong around the area. He also promised his first catch to us. Yay, free meal!


Ini rupa ikan trout. Slim sikit dari patin la.

After maybe a couple of hours, finally we got ourselves a trout. Then it started raining. So the fisherman ran back to his car and bid us farewell. Ish kesian. His only catch and he gifted it to us. Ingat nak jugak la ajak dia rasa kari trout, tapi dia dah balik. Oh well. Thank you stranger.

That evening were spent lazying and pondering upon life. Nothing much to do when it rained, eh? We sat and listened to the sound of rain… and drifted off to sleep.

Only to be awakened by my amma who wanted to do her number two and insisted my brother to go with her. There went my amma’s introduction to the long-drop toilet :D


After a day filled with hiking (spoken like a true couch potato), we put up a night in Fox Glacier Top 10 Holiday Park. Located just outside of town on the Cook Flat Road, it’s conveniently on your way to Lake Matheson, the lake famous for its mirror reflection.

Caught up with our laundry and charging our electronics. Saw an elderly couple who arranged their camping chairs facing the mountains. So here is their awesome view. Of course my cheapo smart phone camera didn’t do it justice.

20150319_194402_Richtone(HDR)The mountain range changes colour depending on the height of the sun. It really was truly spectacular…

The day was spent cooking and just relaxing….

The next day, I decided to skip Lake Haast RiverMatheson and started driving towards Wanaka. Yes, I know. Blasphemy! But the road to Wanaka is long and dwindling. Had plenty of beautiful pitstops but they were filled to the brim with tourists; ie: Fantail Creek.

Entering the Lake County, we were greeted by the magnificent turquoise colour of the Lake Wanaka. We were speechless for awhile, entertaining our thoughts, just marvelling at God’s show.

Lake Hawea

Wanaka and Hawea are two fresh-water lake in the Otago region which are divided by an isthmus, Wanaka being the bigger one.

Initially I wanted to put up a night at Lake Outlet Holiday Park, which is at the edge of Lake Wanaka, but in the end we made a turn to Lake Hawea instead.

Lake Hawea

Lake Hawea at sunset


Our motorhome in Lake Hawea Holiday Park

Glacier County

19th March 2015

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Salji salji then suddenly what is that? Palm tree??

After leaving Lake Mahinapua DOC, we drove down south the coast towards he Glacier County. The route was lined with snowcapped mountains surrounded by green rainforests. It was remarkable how the two could co-exist within the same vicinity, which could be captured within the same photoframe!

We made an impromptu pit stop at one of the river gorges along the way because thambi wanted to pee. And here in the view of the loo:


Of course had to mancing.


The loo with a view


Bad angle with the double chin, of course

Both Franz Josef and Fox Glacier are packed with tourists wanting a glimpse of the glacier. The sky was buzzing with helicopters bearing eager outsiders for a snow/glacier landing.

We picked Fox Glacier out of the two since it guarantees the closest glacier viewing experience. The entrance to the glacier is accessible via Glacier Access Road, which brought us to a rocky parking area by the mountains.

I whipped out Syaiful’s GoPro cam for the first time during our NZ trip. It was tricky initially before we got the hang of it. From the Lonely Planet guide, the Terminal Face walk was supposed to be an easy walk. But boy, the climb was pretty steep; it took us plenty of stops to get to the top.

Of course this is totally not me exaggerating because there were plenty of pakciks and makciks huffing and puffing along the way.

The reward? Magnificent.


Need to get one of those humongous camera to do the trick, I suppose


Amma and her pyjamas


Thambi and the mountain

West Coast, New Zealand

18th March 2015.

It has been quite a journey.

We woke up this morning in a ridiculously cold weather, I’d dare say it was easily 0 or subzero temperature. But overnight the cloud has cleared Alhamdulillah. Appa claimed he could witness a star or two during the night. We drove to Hokitika. Took us about one a half hour journey across the Kumara Junction Highway.

Along the way we could see endless mountains decorated with creeks and shallow rapids, which made for a beautiful background. Approaching Hokitika, after taking a bend near the town of Awatuna, the ocean came into view.

Hokitika is a quaint little town, very proud of their history as shown by the museum which stands strong in the middle of the town. It has its own historical walks. How many small towns could boast about its history? But we were busy looking for toilets, as our troops are at best only comfortable peeing in the motorhome. The second business takes a lot of guts to be done with your family sitting right outside the toilet.

After taking care of business at the numerous public toilets available in town, we drove 10 km south of Hokitika towards Lake Mahinapua Scenic Reserve. The lake is famous for its lukewarm water (which we found out to be about Malaysian tap water temperature) and other sports activities. Unlike our first night at Mt. White Station, Lake Mahinapua has plenty of campervans sharing the view with us. The DOC site is complete with toilet sheds and washing basins, the best one we’ve been to yet. Plenty of walks around this area, we did the simplest one: Bell Loop Walk which took us about 20 minutes.


Kain pelekat sampai NZ yoo


Amma rocking her new New Balance shoes doing the Bell Loop Walk


Pose nasyid in front of Lake Mahinapua

Pioneer NZ Trip, March 2015.

I had overlooked NZ for the past years of my travelling life. I was in love with Australia and the Scandinavians, but NZ didn’t even cross my mind. But I knew that I always wanted to do a South Island trip. So when MAS had a ticket sale to Auckland (which wasn’t that much of a bargain to begin with), the whole family agreed to go.

It was a five-month planning and re-planning. Five months of reduced pay to substitute for longer day off.

In the end it was all worth it. I fell hard for New Zealand. How did I miss this gem of a country before??

On March 14th, 2015, I rushed through my day shift at the clinic. Left the clinic early at 430 pm in order to be able to leave for the airport at 5. Check in was a breeze; I really appreciate KLIA’s spacious and systematic check-in counter. So we had plenty of time to spare for maghrib and meals. Boarded the flight at 9.30 pm, and off we go to beautiful New Zealand.

March 15th, 2015. We landed at Auckland International Airport. One of the quirkiest airports I’ve seen so far, with the interactive walls lining the hallways, doing their best promoting the country. Customs was not as tedious as I expected it to be, I went to another level of kiasu-ness by preparing a list and brand names of all the foodstuff that we brought. I also made a point to ask my family members to buy new trainers in order to avoid their shoe germs being the cause of delay.

We were picked up by Supershuttle, which is really the most convenient way to travel to Auckland CBD. Much cheaper too if you’re travelling in a group. We were dropped off at our AirBnB accommodation, located very near to the harbour and the CBD. Again, AirBnB is much appreciated.

We spent two nights in Auckland. The first night in we were too tired to do much of anything, so Amma and I went down to the nearby kebab shop and bought us dinner. Of course my thambi gobbled everything up in record time. We also spent time watching X Factor NZ, and saw the trainwreck Natalia Kills practically killed a contestant with her cruel comments. You ugly, ugly woman. We were happy she was kicked off. Bah, semangat. Hahha.

And of course cyclone Pam decided to grace Vanuatu and northern part of NZ with its presence so it started raining heavily that night.

The next day, figuring we didn’t have much time and no transport, I booked us on the Auckland City Highlights tour. Auckland itself is a beautiful and a quaint little city (I called it little when compared to perpetually busy and eternally jammed-up KL), but there wasn’t much to see after 3 hours of touring. The tour guide tried his best entertaining us with the history of the town, which I really appreciate. The tour finished up at about noon.

We were supposed to go for an Auckland Harbour cruise but that was cancelled due to the typhoon report, despite the weather being superfine. Ah well.

My amma and I spent our afternoon (since my appa and thambi decided to sleep the afternoon off) walking to the CBD. I could khatam Auckland CBD on foot in one day. My kind of city.

The next morning, we left early for the airport. Again Supershuttle came through. Our Jetstar flight to Christchurch was on time, and I was seated next to a lovely Australian couple on their way back from visiting their son. The weather outside of the plane looked bleak, which worried me for awhile.

Landed in Christchurch on time to freezing temperature (exaggerated of course) and was so thankful for electricity and heat. Called Wilderness Motorhome up, and we were picked up by Claudia. The warehouse is only about 5 minutes drive from the airport. On the way, we asked her whether 7 degrees is the typical early autumn weather for Christchurch. Her answer: “No! It was still sunny yesterday. I had to dig out boxes to get to my parka this morning. Blame it on the typhoon.”


The check in was pretty smooth. They just got back their Summit 5 the day before and they were still running some checks on the vehicle.


Check out our pretty ride, Summit 5

First matter of the day was looking for food. So we went to the nearest supermarket (as per advised by Claudia) and made our purchases. Murah wei barang kat NZ, walaupun GST depa 16%. (Iklan sekejap).

After packing our motorhome with food and arranging our luggages into lockers, we set off to Arthur’s Pass, claimed as the most scenic highway in South Island.

And these people don’t lie. There were and still are no words.

From Wildernessts Book supplied to us from the hire, I picked out Mount White Bridge Station.

And yes, it was total wilderness out there.
“Mak takut nak tidur malam tu pasal takdak orang langsung kiri kanan.”
“Clear nya langit malam tadi, boleh kira bintang satu-satu.” My appa.

There was no amenities available. We gosok gigi by the river, while listening to the freight train passing by. It was so serene. So beautiful.


Waimakariri River

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Sup, yo?

Taking everything in stride makes you appreciate more.

I’m oncall. I’m running high-temperature fever. I follow whatever instructions I always give to patients in case of severe URTI: take your Panadol 2 tablets four times daily and other meds, MANDI, minum plenty of water, jalan-jalan around rumah, makan, and don’t fret, in sha Allah it’ll be over soon.

Alhamdulillah, my call yesterday was good (according to my MA). No referral case at all. Very many thanks to my FMS who pitched in and did my extended hours. If not I’d be clerking patients via sign language tak pun kenyit-kenyit mata. Hahha. Besides no sick person wants to take advice from another sick person (credits to Hezne :)).

Nak dijadikan cerita, today since I’m all better kan, cases pun mula datang. Thank you, people of Maran, for giving me a sick day-in semalam. Hahha. Today started with open fracture of right femur. Kesian budak tu. Put on my proper baju and tudung, grabbed my keys and rushed to my Rush. Only to be disappointed by it. Battery flat! I told you abang Toyota! I told you! I had a major service (apa tah yang major) done two weeks back, and I INFORMED the Toyota personnel, “abang, enjin saya nak start pun dah malu-malu kucing. Rasa bukan starter. Pasal battery pun dah lebih 2 tahun”.

Later abang toyota called and informed, “tak payah tukar battery cause battery ada 60% lagi”. I was skeptical, 2 tahun battery ada 60% lagi. Biar bet. But the expert confirmed, who was I to argue?

But I felt disappointed because I was quite well aware of my own car. I am not the typical female who belasah naik kereta and never services one car and relies on one’s bf/husband/bapak for the general health of said car. I’d like to think that I am responsible of it, much like taking care of one’s child. So if it becomes sick under my care, it almost feels like I’m not doing a good job nurturing it. Twisted logic, but betul kan?

Takpe lah. Nasib baik kereta bawah rumah je. Then of course I had to run to clinic for the femur fracture. Lol, very attractive, with hidung tersumbat and hongeh, I arrived in one piece at the clinic. Kesian budak tu. Dah la family kat Lanchang. Geo lesson for you: Lanchang is about 90 kms from Maran.

Ah well. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be having my voice to communicate with the mechanic. With that, I leave you with this article: The Nature of Gratitude.