Winter in New Zealand – 10 Days DIY Itinerary

Updated January 27, 2020
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I always thought there was not much in New Zealand aside from that Hobbit place and cows. I’ve considered visiting it before but didn’t really know if it was possible to explore without needing a car. One random night I saw a good deal on Australia and New Zealand flights and purchased them right away, without even researching much about the country first. And when I did, that’s when I realized how crazy beautiful it is making me anticipate my visit even more.

This trip was a continuation of our trip to Australia, click here to read more about that.

Me at a stopover somewhere in Fiordland
Me at a stopover somewhere in Fiordland

Getting Around

New Zealand is considered one of the best places in the world for a road trip. So the question is, how me and Wayne, both had no driver’s license, was able to explore the country? InterCity! Our lifesaver, our hero, our saint, and everything!!!! InterCity has a nationwide network of buses that could take you anywhere in the country. And the best thing is, they have passes that you can use to minimize your spending and make the most out of your time in the country.

We used the InterCity FlexiPass which is an hour-based pass that lets you choose any route within their network. Based on our itinerary, we needed at least 24 hours so we purchased the 25-Hour FlexiPass for NZD 209. If we ever need more hours, we could just load up on the website. Below is the breakdown of how we utilized our FlexiPass:

  • Queenstown to Milford Sound return trip: 10 Hours 25 Minutes
  • Queenstown to Mount Cook: 4 Hours 45 Minutes
  • Mount Cook to Lake Tekapo: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
  • Lake Tekapo to Christchurch: 3 Hours 55 Minutes
  • Auckland Morning Sights Tour: 3 Hours

So our total was 23:15 hrs. We still have 1:45 hrs each which will expire on July 2020, if you wanna purchase them (it’s transferrable) just message us on Facebook!

With the 25-Hour FlexiPass, 1 hour is equivalent to NZD 8.36. It can be cheaper if you purchase a much more expensive FlexiPass, so this deal is definitely better for long-term travelers. 

Click here to know more about the InterCity FlexiPass.

Our AwesomeNZ InterCity bus that took us to and from Milford Sound
Our AwesomeNZ InterCity bus that took us to and from Milford Sound

Day 1

  • Arrive at Queenstown via Virgin Australia Flight VA 187
  • Supershuttle to Base Backpackers (NZD 20.00 for 2)
  • Check-in at Base Backpackers
  • Lunch at Public Kitchen & Bar (NZD 47.50 for 2)
    • Cheese Rolls (NZD 10.50)
    • Nana’s chicken (NZD 25.50)
    • Kumara salad (NZD 11.50)
  • Explore the wharf area
  • Buy gloves at Mikael Queenstown (NZD 30.00 each pair)
  • Buy a jacket (it was on sale!) at Kathmandu (NZD 60.00)
  • Take the Gondola to Skyline Queenstown
    • Return Gondola (NZD 44.00 per person)
  • Dinner at Tanoshi Iko (NZD 32.00 for 2)
    • Shouyu Ramen (NZD 16.00)
    • Tan Tan Men (NZD 16.00)
View from Skyline Queenstown
View from Skyline Queenstown

Day 2

  • Breakfast at Shotover Night ‘n Day
  • Milford Sound Tour and Cruise from Queenstown via InterCity* (Approximately NZD 162.00 per person)
    • *Return bus transfer was paid via InterCity FlexiPass (Approximately NZD 87.00) and the cruise was paid as an add-on for NZD 75.00 per person
  • Dinner at Fergburger (NZD 37.8 for 2)
    • Fergdeluxe (Prime New Zealand Beef Cheeseburger – NZD 15.50)
    • Sweet Bambi (Wild Fiordland Deer Burger – NZD 14.40)
    • Onion Rings (NZD 7.90)

Day 3

  • Breakfast at Ferg Bakery (NZD 16.00 NZD for 2)
  • Queenstown to Mount Cook via InterCity Bus* (Approximately NZD 39.71 per person)
    • *Paid via InterCity FlexiPass
  • Brunch at Merino Country Stopover Cafe (NZD 8.00 per person)
  • Stopover at Lake Pukaki
  • Check-in at YHA Mount Cook
  • Late lunch at Hermitage cafe (NZD 23.50 for 2)
    • 2 Meat pies (NZD 16.00)
    • Yogurt (NZD 5.00)
    • Kitkat (NZD 2.50)
  • Stargazing tour via Big Sky Stargazing (NZD 78.00 per person)
  • Cook dinner at YHA
Kea Point walking trail at Mount Cook National Park
Kea Point walking trail at Mount Cook National Park

Day 4

  • Rest & laundry day because it was raining all-day
  • Cook food all day at YHA
  • Alternative activity for this day is to hike the Hooker Valley

Day 5

  • Tasman Glacier Hiking with Helicopter Ride via Mount Cook Glacier Guiding (NZD 575.00* per person)

*NZD 575.00 was the price of a Tasman Heli-Hike/Summit snowshoeing at that time. Please refer to the Mount Cook Glacier Guiding website for the updated price. Also, we purchased this tour at Klook and got a discounted rate on top of a promo code. We only actually paid PHP 34,073.16 for the 2 of us making it approximately NZD 510 per person.

We were scheduled for a Tasman Summit Snowshoeing tour which lasts for 6 hours. But because of the unstable weather, they put us on a Tasman Heli-Hike tour instead. The heli-hike lasted for about 3 hours including the helicopter rides. It was still a once in a lifetime experience and I’m glad we were able to continue even with a different tour, at least it didn’t get canceled!

Day 6

  • Unexpected snowfall! It started as rain and slowly became snow.
  • Cook breakfast and lunch at YHA
  • Mount Cook to Lake Tekapo via InterCity Bus* (Approximately NZD 9.75 per person)
    • *Paid via InterCity FlexiPass
  • Check-in at Lakefront Lodge Backpackers
  • Early dinner at Reflections Cafe & Restaurant (NZD 60.00 for 2)
    • Beef Red Wine Casserole
    • Baby Back Ribs with Rice
    • Spicy Crispy Calamari 
  • Visit the Church of Good Shepherd 
  • Grocery shopping for snacks and for cooking at the hostel (NZD 33.00)
  • Stargazing outside the hostel
Snowfall at Mount Cook
Snowfall at Mount Cook
My capture of our stargazing at Lake Tekapo
My capture of our stargazing at Lake Tekapo

Day 7

  • Cook breakfast at the hostel
  • Snowtubing at Tekapo Springs (NZD 25.00 per person)
  • Light lunch at Tekapo Springs Cafe
  • Lake Tekapo to Christchurch via Intercity Bus* (Approximately NZD 32.77 per person)
    • *Paid via InterCity FlexiPass
  • Check-in at YHA Christchurch
  • Dinner at Burger Fuel (NZD 26.50 for 2)
  • New Regent Street
  • Bridge of Remembrance

Day 8

  • Brunch at C1 Espresso Cafe (NZD 41.90 for 2)
  • Bus from Christchurch Bus Interchange to Northlands (NZD 4.20 per person)
  • Bus from Northlands to Willowbank (we missed this bus so we booked a car via OlaCabs for NZD 14.02)
  • Willowbank Wildlife Reserve (NZD 27.50 – includes a 5 dollar discount from our hostel)
  • Bus to Supa Center (Free)
  • Bus from Supa Center to Christchurch Bus Interchange (NZD 4.20 per person)
  • Dinner at Little High Eatery 
    • Tuatara Bento Box (NZD 16.00 per person)
Wayne at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
Wayne at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Day 9

  • OlaCabs to Christchurch Airport (NZD 23.86)
  • Breakfast at Burger King (NZD 12.60 per person)
  • Christchurch to Auckland via Jetstar Flight JQ226 (NZD 73.00 per person)
  • Supershuttle to Ibis Budget Auckland (NZD 35.00 for 2)
  • Check-in at Ibis Budget Auckland
  • Purchase AT Hop Card (NZD 20.00 per person)
  • Lunch at BBQ Duck Cafe
    • BBQ Lunch Set (NZD 16.5 per person)
  • Bus 295 from Civic Center to One Tree Hill
  • One Tree Hill
  • Bus 30 from 651 Manukau Rd to Civic Center
  • Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (NZD 20.00 per person)
  • Dinner at Depot (NZD 62.00 for 2)
    • 2 Mahurangi Oysters (NZD 4.5 each)
    • Smoked Fish on Toasts (NZD 18.00)
    • Hapuka Belly (NZD 35.00)
  • Souvenir shopping at Countdown Supermarket
Sheep at One Tree Hill
Sheep at One Tree Hill

Day 10

  • Breakfast at Bake & Beans Indian Bakery (NZD 9.00 for 2)
    • 2 Butter Chicken Pie (NZD 4.50 each)
  • Auckland Morning City Tour via Intercity* (Approximately NZD 25.00 per person)
    • Harbour Bridge
    • Viaduct Harbour
    • Auckland Domain
    • City and waterfront views
  • Explore Queen Street + souvenir shopping
  • Late lunch at The Maori Kitchen
    • Hangi Tuturu (NZD 17.00 per person)
  • Ferry from Downtown to Devonport
  • Hike to Takarunga/Mount Victoria
  • Sunset at the peak of Takarunga/Mount Victoria
  • Ferry back to downtown
  • Last-minute souvenir shopping at stores along Queen Street
  • Taxi to Auckland Airport (NZD 45.00)
  • Philippine Airlines Flight PR 219 back to Manila
Sunset view of Auckland skyline from Devonport
Sunset view of Auckland skyline from Devonport

Expenses

Visa-related FeesNZD 35.00 at the website
and PHP 620.00 at VFS Global
PHP 1,850.00
per person
Intercity FlexiPassvia InterCity websiteNZD 209.00
per person
Milford Sound Cruisevia InterCity websiteNZD 75.00
per person
Queenstown Base Backpackersvia Agoda
Pre-paid
PHP 2,574.28
2 beds at dormitory
for 2 nights
YHA Mt. Cook (Youth Hostel)via Agoda
Pay at the hotel
NZD 228.00
2 beds at dormitory
for 3 nights
Tekapo Lakefront Lodge Backpackersvia Agoda
Pay at the hotel
NZD 60.00
2 beds at dormitory
for 1 night
YHA Christchurchvia Agoda
Pre-paid
PHP 3,589.72
2 beds at dormitory
for 2 nights
Auckland Ibis Budget Hotelvia Agoda
Pre-paid
PHP 2,311.71
Double bed room
with own toilet and bath
for 1 night
Christchurch to Auckland Flightvia Jetstar website
with 20kg baggage per person
NZD 73.00
per person
Tasman Glacier Heli-Hike Tourvia Klook
Pre-paid with promo coupon applied
PHP 34,073.16
for 2 people
Total credit/debit card expensesFood, souvenirs, etc...PHP 20,154.42
Total cash expensesAUD 540.00 and USD 600.00PHP 50,364.00**
for 2 people
TOTALPHP 151,642.54*
for 2 people
PHP 75,821.27*
per person
*Not including international flights
**USD 1.00 = PHP 51.90 and AUD 1.00 = PHP 35.60

~

What I really like about this trip to New Zealand is that it felt like a dream. A good dream that was actually happening in real life. And I think it’s all because of the landscapes. New Zealand’s nature is undeniably beautiful. I actually wrote on an Instagram post that “Cameras were made for New Zealand”, and it’s true. It’s not a place that only has one spot where tourists flock to take a picture of. Every angle in every lighting, you can take a stunning shot that looks as beautiful in photos as it is in reality.

And I have to be grateful for the nice weather throughout our trip. If it wasn’t for that we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do some of the activities that we did. Though it did rain quite a few times, they happened at the right moment, and even made us experience our first snowfall! Overall, we were really lucky with the weather which got us to maximize our time in New Zealand and experience the country unlike any of our trips before!

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