Monday, November 14, 2016

11D Budget Travel: New Zealand for RM5,370

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Yayyerrs! Finally another Travel update! For those who don't know me, I'm a guy who takes trips all year round and this posts destination: New Zealand!

I would  say that I honestly didn't plan this trip thoroughly, as I only decided about 1 month before my trip. But I managed to cut costs here n there to make it somewhat a budget trip.

Why did I choose NZ anyway? I'm a huge LOTR fan and I wanted to see all the beautiful scenery of New Zealand!

My Plan was simple, take a chillax trip, no rushing, and that I wouldn't go down to the south Island as I know I don't have enough time to enjoy everything if i do go down there. I'll keep that for next year!

My travel route was:

Auckland  > Mata-mata  > Rotorua > Wellington > Auckland

Day 1 (Auckland) - Stay 4 nights at Nomads Backpackers

Auckland - Explore Around

Day 2
Rangitoto Volcano
Chilling around Auckland

Day 3

Bungy Jump & One Tree Hill Volcano (Trail)

Day 4

Takapuna & Devonport

Day 5 (Mata mata & Rotorua) - Stay 1 night at Crash Palace Backpackers (Rotorua)

Hobbiton
Spa at Rotorua

Day 6 (Rotorua) 

Explore Nature Trails, Volcanic Pools
Maori Village
Overnight bus to Wellington [7 hours]

Day 7 (Wellington) - Stay 1 night at Nomads Wellington

Explore Wellington
War Museum

Day 8 (Wellington)

Botanical Parks
Wellington Museum
Overnight bus to Auckland [11 hours]

Day 9 (Auckland) - Stay 2 nights at Nomads Camel Backpackers

Free & Easy - I headed to Takapuna to meet a friend
Fish Market
Street Markets

Day 10 

Waiheke Island - Wine Trip

Day 11

Back to Kuala Lumpur


Flights:

I was initially planning to take Airasia, as their flights were only RM2,100 for a return ticket. Then I got really blessed, as a company called Parlo Tours gave me a RM2,000 travel voucher. YAZZZZ! Thanks Parlo Tours for sponsoring me that amount for my flights!

So I decided to take Malaysia Airlines instead, as their tickets were RM2,600 return, so I only needed to top up RM600 for it!

But anyway I'll just cost it in as RM2,100 for flights as that was what I'm supposed to pay if I wasn't sponsored.


Total: RM2,100 ($700 NZD)


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My awesome flight-mate, Elia from Toulouse! (Toulouse is the southern region of France, and that is where i studied! =D)

Transportation in New Zealand

From the Airport to the city, There is a bus shuttle for $32 return ticket. This is the cheapest way if you're a solo traveler. If you're with a group of friends, you can opt for a mini van, which the rates maybe slightly cheaper.
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Most places within Auckland City is pretty walkable, and you can always take the buses/ferries to different places. There is a card called AT HOP, which you can use for the Buses, Trains and some Ferries. It costs $10 and you would have to top it up to use it. (Do note that AT HOP can only be used at Auckland, it doesn't work at other cities like Wellington etc)

Should you buy an AT HOP Card? it really depends actually, on how much you're using the transportation system over there. AT HOP Cards get a discounted rate (like a concessions fare) compared to normal individual tickets.

Here is the fare rate, and normally the maximum you'll go is 2 zones

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For myself, even though I was going to many places, I didn't use AT HOP because the difference was really minimal. AT Hop requires you to top up in multiples of $5, hence look at my calculation below:


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As for travelling to the other locations in New Zealand, I used Intercity Buses which are pretty reliable and on time. For overnight buses, if you're lucky you're able to get 2 seats and if you're Asian enough, you can somehow curl into a ball and sleep nicely LOL

$15 Auckland > Mata mata (Hobbiton) [3 hours]
$15 Mata mata > Rotorua [1 hour]
$29 Rotorua > Wellington [7 hours overnight bus]
$30 Wellington > Auckland [11 hours overnight bus]

For the trips to the islands, you will be using Fuller Ferries (which you can't use the AT HOP Card). How do you save on it? There are Free guide books from the Airport, and inside em are 10% coupons which you can use for the ferries! Keep an eye out for em


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Return Ferry to Rangitoto - $27 ($30 if without coupon)
Return Ferry to Waiheke - $32 ($36 if without coupon)
In Waiheke you would also need to get an all day bus pass for $10

Another way you can get a great discount from Fuller's ferries is through their discount page. There are certain time slots where you can even get a one way ticket at $10! But of course, these tickets are not refundable/exchangeable, and also you have to stick to that time slot which is allocated.

Do check here for more info: https://www.fullers.co.nz/events-plus-deals/hot-seat-deals/

so in summary for the transportation cost:
$32 Airport Bus Transfer
$34.20 Bus & Devonport Ferry
$89 Intercity
$69 Fullers Ferries

Transportation Grand Total: $224.20 NZD


Accommodation

I chose to stay in hostels this time, as I wanted to be in the city itself which is more accessible to everywhere else. A tip to save money on accommodation is to pay straight up to the website which you book it from, as if you pay the 10% deposit only, there'll be an extra 2.8% charge if you pay by international credit cards at the hostel itself (normal NZ rules for hostels there)

The budget should be about RM60-80 per night, and I used mostly Agoda and Hostelworld.com to book my accommodation.

Another tip which will allows you to save is by using a website called Shopback.my. Shopback is a website that links up to Agoda/Hostelworld etc and it gives you cashback for each transaction you made. A normal cashback rate for accommodation is 5% - 8% cashback per booking, and also there are special promos sometimes for certain merchants (eg. Agoda) which gives a RM35 cashback for transactions RM200 and above!

I also got lucky as i got free upgrades for all the rooms that I booked for

As for my places of stay I chose:

1) Nomads Backpackers Auckland (4 Nights)



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The price price was RM294 for 4 nights, and since i used shopback, I got the RM35 cashback for this transaction. Final Price: RM259 for 4 nights

I booked a 12 mixed dorm in this hostel, but was upgraded to a 4 mixed room. It was really good as we have our own personal bathroom and toilet for this.

The location of this hostel is really strategic, just next to Queen Street and a 5 minute walk from the Ferries, Trains and Buses. The only down side is that the front desk operates pretty slow.

2) Crash Palace Backpackers Rotorua (1 night)



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It was RM78 for the night, and after the 6% cashback for this transaction, it was RM73 for the night. I was also pretty lucky that I was the only one in the room that night!

This hostel is pretty much the most happening hostel in Rotorua, as it has daily themed nights where you can win free beer! It is also just next to the Polynesian Spa, so its super strategic. Other than that, they do provide free pasta, rice, herbs and spices for you to cook. You can save a bit of moolah if you would wanna cook

the only drawback is that there is a $10 fee to leave your luggage after 6pm (This is because I needed to take the Intercity bus at 11pm after the checkout) But there was an incident where my Maori Tours which i booked through the front desk didn't go through and i couldn't see the Maori village. So they didn't charge me the $10 fee and also gave me a free beer that day

3) Nomads Capital Backpackers Wellington (1 night)

Nomads Capital Backpackers was the most expensive hostel I stayed in New Zealand at RM80 per night, after minusing the 8% cashback from Shopback. The hostel is located smacked at the city centre, and is only a 15 minute walk from the Bus Station (Where you Alight off the overnight bus)

But the main reason why i chose this hostel is: FREE PANCAKES FOR BREAKFAST (You're able to save cash on 2 breakfasts already[the morning you arrive after the overnight bus and the following morning when you're departing) and also, THEY GIVE FREE DINNER TOO!

So pretty much you would save 3 meals already if you stay at this hostel!

4) Nomads Camel Backpackers Auckland (2 nights)

Honestly I booked the wrong hostel LOL, I wanted to book Nomads Auckland again, but instead i accidentally booked this which was a few doors down.

This hostel was the cheapest at RM114 (RM57 per night) after the 8% cashback. This hostel is slightly older, so it isn't as clean or upkept compared to Nomads Auckland. So i wouldn't suggest this hostel for the faint hearted. The only good part is that it is still in a very strategic location and there is a bar downstairs that serves beer at $5 per mug.

Total cost for accommodation: RM526 ($175 NZD)


Food

I would honestly tell you that I spent quite little on food with a few exceptional meals. I would normally buy bread and muesli bars from the the grocer for breakfast. My favourite would be the pumpkin bread ($3 per loaf) and Countdown muesli bars ($2 for 8 bars). Just wrap em up together and its a pretty good brekkie or a snack during the day. I would honestly say i went OD on muesli bars as i love em so much

For lunches and dinners, you should try to budget about $10 per meal or less (I went over the budget la LOL)

For lunch I normally I had subways ($4,50 for 6" Sub of the day/$8 for a foot long), I prefer this as it is much more filling compared to McD at about $10-15 per meal


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Dab beer! and the DABBING STARTS! 


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The Friday Food truck area

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L&P

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Cheap asian eats



and for dinner, I had japanese ramen ($8-10 per bowl), Donburis ($7.50), Fish & Chips ($6-$10)


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Cheap Fish & Chips

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japanese ramen

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Donburis

and the occasional treats, I had Sal's Pizza ($20 per pax), Carls Jr's ($15), Fresh Seafood ($35)
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Sal's with Ashley & Doug


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Some nice lamb with Jennifer

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Hello Jenn! hot mama of 3!

For alcohol, most bars will serve a pint from $5 - $15 depending on the brand and how exclusive the bar is. You should also try some of their craft beers in wellington


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Of course its best to just get a bottle and take away

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A nice beer at the viaduct

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Late nights with this one

Cost for the 11 days
Breakfast: $30 
(I had 2 free breakfasts from the Nomads Wellington) - Average of $2.90 per meal

Lunch: $111.40 
(I had 1 free lunch from Jennifer) - Average of $11 per meal (Slightly high as I had fresh seafood for one of my lunches)

Dinner: $99.50 

(1 had 1 free dinner from Nomad's Wellington) - Average of $9 per meal

Supper/Snacks: $20 


Drinks: $53

(5 nights out) - Average of $10 per night out
(I'm not including my Waiheke Wines under this category)

Total Cost of Food: $313.90 NZD


As for the attractions that I visited at New Zealand, here is the list of things I did based on locations:




Things to do at Auckland


1) Explore the City Centre & Parks around Auckland 

Of course the first thing you would want to do when you arrive is to check out your surroundings and familiarize yourself with the area. One of the best ways is to go for the Free Walking Tours (http://aucklandfreewalkingtours.co.nz/) but sadly they weren't operating when I went there.

There are also plenty of parks around Auckland, and its a pretty chill area for a snack, watching the trees bloom or just for you to laze the day away and read a book.

Cost: Free 


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Queens Wharf

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The Civic Theatre

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The Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra

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Albert Park

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Albert Park

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Auckland Domain with Song Leong & Doug


2) One Tree hill 

It is about a 20min bus ride away from the city, You're able to see the old volcanic crater over there, and walk around this massive park. It has a beautiful view of Auckland city when you reach the peak, and if you have the $$ you can also go to the observatory telescope and check out the stars.

There are plenty of sheep running around there too!

Cost: Free


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Pretty good place to chill eyh?

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Sheep roaming around

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Baaaaaa

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Peak of One Tree Hill

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Some people got real' creative

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The peak of One Tree Hill

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The monument

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The view from the top


3) Harbour Bridge Bungy Jump

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I chose this from the Auckland Tower Jump as well, if anything happens, I'll fall into the water LOL. Of course your first bungy jump should be at New Zealand, and you should save your bungy-virginity for it

Cost: $160 for jump, $40 for photos



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The Harbour Bridge Bungy Jump allows you to walk on the Harbour Bridge Maintenance line, to get to the jump pod. The Bungy Jump itself is 40m, and you have a choice if you wanna get splashed into the ocean or not! (I opted for it but sadly, they didn't calibrate the bungy properly and I was just inches away from the water)
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Honestly it was a pretty scary experience to me, as I was just chillin waiting for my turn to jump as we had to wait for the boats to pass. Believe me, just waiting and looking down, thats the part that makes you shit bricks LOL


4) Takapuna
Take a 20 min bus (From Civic Center) to Takapuna on a Sunday Morning as there is the Sunday market! You can see a lot of local produce and also a lot of funky eats over there. There is also a beach over there so if you fancy a dip in the cold cold water, yeah you can go ahead! There is also a lot of people paddle boarding over there and there are plenty of dogs playing at the beach.

If you're bringing your kids, there's a massive playground over there as well!

Cost: Free 

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Takapuna Town Centre

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Takapuna Beach

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5) Devonport

After your trip to Takapuna, take a connecting bus to Devonport which will take about 10-15 minutes. This is maritime heritage town, where you can see all the old buildings and also is where the naval base is at.

You can also trail Mt Victoria (about 20 minutes trail up) where you can see a nice 360 view of the city and surrounding islands, and also the old navy defenses from ages ago.


Cost: Free
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Devonport

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The Heritage Town

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The Jetty

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Peak of Mt Victoria

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Pretty much a good day to soak up the sun

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Dab Auckland!


6) Fish Market

The fish market in Auckland will satisfy your seafood cravings. you would just need to walk about 20 minutes from the jetty, and there's lots of fresh seafood daily. Do note they only open about 10 am onwards (I have no idea why LOL)


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Yums!


7) Rangitoto Island

Get onto a Fuller's ferry at the jetty heading to Rangitoto Island (remember to use the coupon to save 10% on your ferry ride or get the hot seat prices). Rangitoto island is a 20 minute ferry ride from Auckland City, and it is a nature reserve.

What do you do there? You trek of course! It is a 1 hour trail to the peak, and you'll be standing at the top of the Rangitoto Volcano with a splendid 360 view. You're also able to walk through the lava caves which is pretty cool

Do note to bring your own food and water there, as there are no eateries or vending machines there.


Cost: Free 

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Departing Auckland CBD


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Arriving at Rangitoto

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Rangitoto Crater

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The view of Auckland City

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The Lava Caves

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Mckenzie Bay

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Mckenzie Bay with Boon Seng from Klang!

8) Waiheke Island
Wine Wine and Wine! Waiheke Island is one of the best Islands to get wine at as there are plenty of wineries there! I would suggest you to take an early Fullers ferry there (40 mins) and start the day by drinking away! We took the 9am ferry there and the 7pm ferry back for this.

At the vineyards, you're able to get tasters or full glasses to your preference. and if you like the wines, you can even buy the bottles there and then.

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I chose not to take a tour, as it seemed pretty limited on where they bring you, so I just decided to go free and easy on this one. Just get the day bus pass over there, and walk to the vineyards that you would want to go to. Do plan to use a full day here, as you would have to walk certain distances to some vineyards. and as from my experience, I was done drinking at 6pm LOL

Food here is pretty pricey as well, so if you would take away some food

Cost: $57 on wine (I tried about 15 wines over there)



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Stony ridge Cellars

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Our first glass of wine

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Te motu Cellar

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Te motu Vinyard

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Walking to obsidian cellar, behind her cute lil tushie!

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Obsidian Cellar


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Cable Bay Restaurant

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Cable Bay Vinyard - one of the best views

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Chilling the day away :)


9) Sky Tower
If you have the budget to go for a sky walk or a second bungy jump here, its definitely recommended as well! Or just a simple time at the casino trying your luck :)


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Sky Tower

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With Ashley, Doug & Song Leong




Things to do at Mata-Mata


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Hobbiton Tour

There is nothing much to do in Mata-mata except Hobbiton. Every LOTR fan will definitely have to put this on the list and get a fresh ale at the Green Dragon. For non LOTR fans, just head there to make your friends jealous!

For this I took the 8am Intercity bus from Auckland (3 hours) and headed for the Hobbiton Tour at 11.45am. The tour bus will pick you up from I-site Mata-mata, and will take a 15 min drive to the Hobbiton set

Over here you're able to see all the hobbit holes, Bag-End, The Party Tree, The Green Dragon and more! It is located on a farm, so you'll see plenty of sheep and cattle roaming around here and there as well.

Cost: $80

Once the tour is over, you can take the next Intercity bus at 4pm to Rotorua (So you wont be in Mata-mata that night)


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Hobbiton!

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Our awesome guide

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Bag End 

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Partay Time!

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Sam wise's house

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Aunty Jean from Philippines

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The Green Dragon

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Southfarthing fine ale

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Getting a pint!

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Defo a must go!


Things to do at Rotorua (You will know you're in Rotorua once you smelt it)


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1) Polynesian Spa 
This spa features a lot of hot pools of different temperatures. These are Geothermal pools and it has pretty good minerals in it for your skin. It really is a place to unwind after a good few days of busy schedules

Do bring your own Towel and Bathing Shorts, as they will charge $5 per piece if you would want to rent it from them.

www.polynesianspa.co.nz/

Cost: $25
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2) Walking Trail along Rotorua Lake 

This is a 2-3 hour trail alongside the lake. You're able to see plenty of wild birds nesting around, and also the volcanic pools over there.


If you're not able to go to the polynesian spa, there is a free geothermal foot pool at the end of the trail

Cost: Free



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The starting of the trail

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sulphuric pools

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Lake Rotorua

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How can you not fall in love with this scenery?

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A maui boat

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Chilling with the swans

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The scenery towards Kuirau Park

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Sulphuric rocks @ Kuirau Park

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Kuirau Park

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Free foot soaking sulphuric pools

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Chilling with my new pinoy friends :) Lance, Eric and Jerick

3) Maori Village - supposedly $80


I would so kill to go for this but sadly my booking was misplaced, and I didn't get to go for it

This includes a trip to the village, to experience Maori Culture and Food. They will also bring you to the glow worm caves


Things to do at Wellington


1) Explore the city and just get lost :)


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The old cinema


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St Pauls Church

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Just had to :)

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Flyn street

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The docks

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2) The Great War Exhibition
The Great War Exhibition is about a 15 minute walk from the CBD, and is pretty interesting as you get to know more about the battles of the First World War. Also, it was created by Peter Jackson! (I'm LOTR-ing all the things here LOL)

Cost: $15


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The War Memorial

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The Monument

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Inside the war memorial

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The unknown soldier

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The great war museum

Some of the exhibits:
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3) Wellington Museum - Free
This museum tells the story of Wellington, and how it all started. If you love culture, this would be a great place to go and I spent about 2 1/2 hours there. It is a pretty small museum, but its power packed with quite a good exhibition


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being the judge LOL

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This tapestry tells the tale of Maui the demigod and how NZ was formed

4) Oriental Bay Beach 

The beach is pretty small compared to Takapuna's, but is a good place to chill. Grab a sandwich over there and watch the waves while you see dogs roaming around catching balls.


Cost: Free
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5) Botanical Parks
The Wellington Botanical Parks is about a 20 minute walk from the CBD. It is pretty big in size and there are plenty of trails to go about. I did enjoy it as most of the flowers were starting to bloom during spring, and there was even some commemorative services going on there as they were pitching up another memorial there.

Cost: Free


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6) Mt Victoria
Another trail away from the city, its about a 20 minute trail to the peak, where you can see a great view of Wellington City and the harbour. It is a pretty easy trail up but was a little rainy that day, but still worth it to get to the top. met a bunch of Malaysians there and also Choulyin's relatives!

Cost: Free


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Road towards Mt Victoria

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The Trail up

 photo IMG_4919_zpshruc8zz8.jpg You can drive up as well!

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Choulyin's Relatives, Uncle George & Aunty Meda

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The Peak of Mt Victoria

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Some monument near the peak

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The View of Wellington City


7) Try out their coffee's and craft beer 
Wellington is like the Melbourne of Australia, and they serve pretty good coffees and craft beers. there are a few coffee bars and bar outlets which serve these drinks all day, the craft beers are slightly more expensive but definitely worth a try


Cost: already included with food budget
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8) Wellington Waterfront 

Another good place to chill and soak up the sun. there are a few knick knack shops over there, and has a great view overseeing the harbour.


Cost: Free
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8) Old St Pauls 
One of the places you should definitely visit at Wellington. It is an old gothic church that was built in 1865, The wood architecture of the church is really one of a kind and they still keep the old relics from the past over there.

Cost: Free


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9) Parliament Buildings
The famous bee hive building in Wellington is good for a photo opt after visiting Old St Pauls (as it is just 5 minutes away) I didn't go inside, but well this can just be a stop by while heading back to the CBD

Cost: Free


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The Parliament Buildings

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That bee hive

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10) Cuba Street
Cuba Street is a hipster street with plenty of coffee bars and restaurants. There are a lot of street performers doing their thing over here, and you're able to pick up some souvenirs here as well.

Cost: Free
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So yeah that is a glimpse of how I spent my 11 days at New Zealand. If you want to go to the South Island, its pretty much possible too within 11 days as my friend Song Leong did that during the same time period. I just didn't want to rush this trip that's why I opted not to.

So here is the total budget spent during my trip:

RM2,100.00 Flights ($700 NZD)
RM   672.60 Transportation: ($224.20 NZD)
RM   526.00 Accommodation (175 NZD)
RM   941,70 Food ($313.90 NZD)
RM1,131.00 Attractions ($377 NZD)
RM5,371.30 Total Cost ($1790 NZD)

It can definitely cheaper if i cut down on the food haha! But considerably it is still an affordable budget trip


Thanks for spending your time to read through this! Do let me know if you did better! Other people can defo benefit from it! :)