Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Journey To The West (Coast)

Short note: I know Mich is so much faster than me in blogging on our trip around the South Island, that I am left so far behind. She has already reached almost the half-way point, while I am just gonna start the very first entry. I guess it will be really hard for me to catch up with her. But you never know. Remember the race between the rabbit and tortoise?

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Day 1, August 18, 2010 - Christchurch to Punakaiki - 289 km.

The plan of the first day of our road trip was to get to the West Coast region of the South Island, through Arthur's Pass, one of only three mountain passes crossing the Southern Alps. Our starting point was of course Christchurch, which is located one third of the way down the South Island's east coast. Weather was not at its best because it was raining that morning, but little did it stop us from feeling excited to start the road trip.

First thing up, was to pick up our rented car at ACE. We went there with one car, i.e. Mich's car, but came back home with two. Yea, one of us gave birth to the second car haha! I was tasked to drive back Mich's car, while she drove home the rented car. It was my first time driving since... I don't know. It's been some time since I last sat on the driver's seat of a car; it's more than a year ago, I think.

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This is the complete itinerary for the road trip, which was all planned by the girlfriend. Kinda impressed to see her organised side.

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Our breakfast! Before you guys think we are like two thirsty hippos to consume such huge amount of food, we only ate less than a quarter from the food in the photo; the rest was taken along the journey.

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The girlfriend busy discussing with the lady from Ace Rental Cars since it would take forever if I did it haha!

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Mich looked like she was so concentrated to the driving but the truth is, she was just posing without appearing like she's doing so haha!

The traffic rules in New Zealand is slightly different from Malaysia, but it is very similar to the ones in Japan. One of the most confusing one must be the "give way to the right" rule, which I took some time to familiarise myself with. Besides, Mich knows the road better around Christchurch and also the roads heading towards Arthur's Pass. So, she was the one to take up the driving job while I sleep during the journey haha!

However, I was too excited to see the sheep along the way, that I couldn't fall asleep. I just couldn't wait to see a sheep for the first time, and it didn't take long before I finally saw them. Not one, but countless of them haha!

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This might look like just a normal shot, but this is the very first photo of sheep I took in New Zealand. Significant, okay? Haha!

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Saw those white dots on the green field? They are not stones, but sheep!

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More sheep for your viewing pleasure haha!

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Some of them were even spotted grazing at the top of the hills. Amazing to see how the sheep were able to balance themselves on such high place!

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At most railway crossings, they don't have a gate. This is how a normal railway crossing looks like in New Zealand.

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This kind of scenery along the state highway can only be seen during winter.

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It's amazing how the scenery changes in just a split moment. You were looking at barren trees at one minute and then everything just turned white after a while.

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We made a brief stop at this unidentified but magnificent lake.

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You just gotta see how the girl was so excited when she saw snow for the first time. So we decided to get down and have a few shots there.

We made another stop at Castle Hill, a high country station that is well-known for its imposing array of limestone boulders in the area, reminiscent of an old, run-down stone castle. I wished we had more spare time to walk up the rock formation. But our tight schedule, plus the cold weather were two main factors that forced us from doing that.

The misty morning with thick fog at the top of the hills makes the place looks so serene, yet mysterious at the same time.

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They look slightly different from Stonehenge in England, nevertheless they were still simply amazing.

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A zoomed-in shot of Castle Hill.

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A small path which would lead us to the rock formations.

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Both of us were freezing while waiting for this shot to be done lol!

Due to its low traffic density, some roads in New Zealand have one-lane bridges on them. At these bridges, vehicles travelling in one direction have to give way to vehicles going in the other direction.

All one-lane bridges are clearly signposted, showing who should give way. A round sign with a red border to tell you that you must give way to vehicles coming towards you. A blue rectangle sign shows that other vehicles should give way to you.

I however, believe this system will never work in Malaysia, considering how impatient and reckless most of the drivers back home.

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The red circle sign shows you must give way.

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We stopped at a rest area near Arthur's Pass railway station for toilet break.

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This cute dog certainly knew how to pose for the camera haha!

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Outside Arthur's Pass railway station.

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Visitors can press on the button on the left to hear how kiwi birds sound like.

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Such a stark contrast compared to the busy train stations in Tokyo.

Although driving through a mountain pass might sound boring to some, it wasn't the case at all during our journey along Arthur's Pass. It was indeed a pleasure to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the mountains covered in snow caps, clear river flowing through the valleys during this time of the year - winter.

As the girlfriend was driving, I had nothing to do. So my eyes turned around the car, trying to spot for anything interesting.

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Noticed that the CD player was in Japanese.

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The road tax was also done in Japan. But it's already expired lol!

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A warning sign for the airbag.

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Was too bored in the car already, hence we started to find stupid stuff to do haha!

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Otira Viaduct, completed in 1999 and spans a 440-metre stretch of unstable land, replacing a narrow, winding, dangerous road that was prone to avalanches, slips and closures.

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The mountains were soon replaced by green fields with early spring flowers started to bloom.

If you think that a one-lane bridge is already scary enough, wait until you see the photo below. It was located somewhere between Kumara Junction and Greymouth. A comparatively long one-way bridge, it goes over a river. The interesting part is that this bridge shares the same lane with the train! Imagine driving on the bridge and suddenly you see a train approaching from the front!

To be sure that it was perfectly safe, we went slow to confirm that there were no vehicles or trains approaching for several times, before driving onto the bridge.

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Halfway through the bridge.

Our next stop was the California of New Zealand. Stay tuned to find out where that place is.

~ to be continued ~

6 comments:

Ken said...

Wow!!
Stunning view in NZ.

U should record down while pressing the 'Kiwi' button. Budak kampung like me tak pernah dengar. lol

Is it a recond. car?

mg said...

no it's second hand import from Japan, there are loads of japanese imported cheap cars here but reasonably new. (about 5-7 years old)

anyway, of course i will finish posting b4 you. lol :P

calvin said...

@ ken:
thanks :)
you will see much more breathtaking views in my future entries!

calvin said...

@ mg:
never ever be sure of something until the race has really reached the finishing line :P

Baby^Girl said...

Oi !!
the SUNVIEW grapes is selling in JUSCO here !! omg !!
frm newzealand?

calvin said...

@ baby^girl:
really? i have never seen such grapes sold in japan before haha!
i think it should be from new zealand, or australia. you go check out the next time you go to work lar, then tell us about your findings :P