*Ongoing Travel Variety series. Updated till episode 3*
I will be updating the locations week by week or whenever there are new translated episodes available. There are SPOILERS so please do not continue if you would prefer not to get spoilt.
What is this show about?
This is a Korean reality travel variety show (by TVING, a web channel) where they send 4 celebrities (Ha Jung-woo, Joo Ji-hoon, SHINEE’s Minho and Yeo Jin-goo) on an exhausting yet fulfilling trip to complete missions that will allow them to ‘win’ air tickets (to New Zealand) for their Korean viewers. I like that they also provide footage of the winners in New Zealand too.
Just some background about myself if you’re reading my website for the first time
I’m really excited about this travel variety as New Zealand is a beautiful country where I spent 9 months under the ‘Working Holiday Program’, of which majority was spent in South Island. Wherever in the world you are, as long as you are under 30 (or 35 for some countries), you are able to apply for a visa that lets you stay and work in the country for up to 12 months. I returned from New Zealand back in March 2020 (it was cut short slightly due to the covid fears) and it’s a country that I hope everyone will get a chance to visit someday. If you have questions about the country, feel free to leave a comment below or check out my extensive New Zealand adventure here.
Possible travel dates for their trip: 22 to 28 September 2022 (Found this info on Twitter but am not too sure about its accuracy.) In fact, they were only spotted in Queenstown (halfway through their trip). New Zealand is a good place for celebrity travel as 90% of the population wouldn’t be bothered with K-pop (I feel). Back in 2019, BTS also did one of their Bon Voyage in South Island and I believe they had quite a good time without being mopped by fans. In fact, the only reason why people will take a second look would be because of the camera crew.
September is the start of Spring in New Zealand. Being in the southern hemisphere (the seasons are flipped e.g. Winter is in June/July, Summer is in December). Spring is a beautiful time to visit as it is not that cold (perhaps about 10 to 20 degrees in the day) and you may be able to spot cherry/plum blossoms if the timing is right. There would still be snow on the mountains are you may be able to ski in the mountains till early October (though the snow is likely to be icy). If you can’t make it for Spring, autumn (March – April) is also a good time to travel (but sadly it is the only season I’ve missed out in my 9 months stay).
Flights to Christchurch
There are no direct flights from Seoul to Christchurch (as of Jan 2023).
Based on the flight timing (they arrived in Christchurch in the morning), they must have taken the Incheon – Singapore – Christchurch flight (SQ297).
Random fact, I took this flight back in 2019 as well =p
Car Rental + Rooftop Tent
Based on my observation – It is a LandRover Discovery 3 (4,390cc) with Feldon Shelter Roof Tent. Number Plate for reference: KLR940
Highly suspect that it was rented from Intrepid Rentals (price from $173/day) but at the point of research, I haven’t found any conclusive evidence to support my guess.
Also FYI, a car with 4,0L engine means that it consumes a lot of fuel which means that your petrol cost will be x2 or x3 of a regular Toyota (known to be fuel efficient). You will end up spending a lot on fuel and petrol is not cheap in New Zealand especially right now (with the ongoing Ukraine war)
Drive from Christchurch airport to Fairlie is approx 2 hr 15 mins (179km) .
Foursquare Supermarket at Fairlie
Address: Main Street, Fairlie 7925, New Zealand (Google Maps)
There are 4 supermarket chains in New Zealand and Four Square is known to be the most expensive one (after Pak n Save, Countdown and New World) and it is usually found in small towns with a smaller population. Fairlie is a very small town and it is most famous for its pies. Most travelers will have a pitstop at the Fairlie Bakehouse (my favourite is Pork Belly and Bacon Salmon) before heading down to the usual destination, Tekapo.
[Fun info about the show] They were only given $26 to spend on groceries as they lost a challenge. Using this money, they bought a bag of potatoes, chicken drumsticks, sausages and salt – and this was their dinner at the campsite later in the evening.
Being a reality series, the production crew drove their land rover away the moment they exited the supermarket and left 4 bicycles for them.
Challenge #1 – They had to cycle 44km from Fairlie to Tekapo.
When I first saw that challenge, my heart was like OMG as I am familiar with that drive and I know that there was going to be upslopes and a beautiful downslope and I was like oh gawd the production crew was really mean. Thankfully, there was a Plan B and 2 of the members (Jung Woo and Jin Goo) ‘gave up’ at the 10km mark and drove to the campsite instead. Ji hoon and Minho continued the ride and I believe it took about 4 hours. Please do not attempt cycling unless you are experienced. In fact when I drive in New Zealand, whenever there’s a huge truck that goes past my tiny Honda Fit car, I will feel the wind which will leave me startled a little. There’s a lot to overcome (physically and mentally) if you’re cycling alongside the highways in New Zealand. Thought that it was a huge danger to put these celebrities through this ordeal but I believe the crew has sufficient safety precautions in place for them.
It can be as pretty as what you see.. if you have good weather. Not to be a Debbie downer but the reality is that there might be a chance that you are greeted with bad weather when you’re in Tekapo. It happened to me twice in my 6 visits (if I didn’t recall wrongly). You might not be able to see the mountains beyond the lake and it might just be rainy and gloomy and you won’t even have any chance with the stars in the skies if there were thick clouds. If the reality hurts when you are there, you are not alone 😉
Lakes Edge Holiday Park
Address: 2 Lakeside Drive, Lake Tekapo 7999, New Zealand (Google Maps)
In New Zealand’s context, a Holiday Park is a place that provides toilet and kitchen facilities for people who intend to stay in their vehicles/tents. Depending on your requirements (powered/non-powered) and how much space you require, the price may defer. If sleeping in a car is not your kind of fun, you can also opt for the hostel or private cabins (very limited and often sold out). Lake Tekapo is one of the most expensive accommodations in South Island if you’re planning to stay in a decent average motel. It is also a Dark Sky Reserve which means that they limit the amount of light disturbance the entire town can have and this makes it a perfect place for star gazing. If you have money, it is highly recommended to go for a star gazing tour where the star guide would provide explanations and even allow you to look at planets (or the moon) via a telescope. Can check out Mt John Observatory stargazing if you are keen.
Challenge #2 – They had to clock 120,000 steps (avg 30,000 per member) in 12 hours.
With such a mission, their first instinct was to go for a hike (before breakfast). Gosh, where did the find that energy from?
Mt John Summit Circuit Track
Address: Unnamed Road, Canterbury 7999, 7999, New Zealand (Google Maps)
To clock the steps, they decided to climb uphill and do the ‘Mt John Summit Track’ which is not exactly a smart choice as why do you want to exhaust your energy by climbing uphill but the views were so gorgeous that morning. I’m proud to share that I’ve done that hike before (Oct 2019) and I would say it is of a difficulty of 2.5 upon 5. I am not very fit but with friends’ support, I can somehow find the strength to do it. It took me one hour and there’s a cafe at the top as well. If you do not wish to hike, you can also drive up during the opening hours (fees are payable per car) and enjoy similar views. FYI – BTS visited this summit in Bon Voyage too but they took the car up.
Random fact, I visited this place 3 times in my 9 months. Twice by car and once by foot.
Foursquare Supermarket, Lake Tekapo
Address: State Highway 8 22 Rapuwai Lane, Tekapo-Twizel Road, Lake Tekapo 7999, New Zealand
There is only one supermarket in Tekapo town and it’s a place that I’ve visited countless times (given that I’ve stayed multiple times in Tekapo). I remember buying Lotto here a few times. The prices in New Zealand are not the same across towns and it is highly likely that the prices here are more expensive than the ones they visited on the previous day. There is a ‘flying fox’ playground beside the supermarket and it’s a little sad that they were rushing for time and to complete their steps mission that they didn’t get to enjoy the playground.
Decided to screenshot their receipt as many of you guys might be unfamiliar with the exorbitant pricing in New Zealand, especially when you’re buying ingredients that are not in season. Astonishing pricing: 155g of garlic @ $8.52, Half a cabbage @ $3.50, 5 pack ramen @ $10.50, Spring onion @ $3.99, Diet Coke (2.25L) @ $3.99, Caged Eggs @ $5.99, Brown Sugar @ $2.49
Anyway, the prices would only be shocking to you if you’re living in Asia. South Island (+ a tourist attraction @ Tekapo) is one of the higher cost-of-living towns in New Zealand which is why you are seeing such pricing. Dining out is even more expensive thus most locals cook their meals and only dine out on special occasions. The only thing that is relatively more affordable in New Zealand is meat =p
Mt Cook Alpine Salmon aka Lake Pukaki Visitor Centre, Lake Pukaki
Note: The drive from Tekapo Town to this salmon shop is approximately 36 mins.
Address: Lake Pukaki Information Centre, Pukaki 7999, New Zealand
(Extra Travel Info) There are 2 shops that sell salmon in this area. The prettier and more touristy one is the one they visited – Mt Cook Alpine Salmon. Their menu items are pretty limited – sliced salmon (in small and big packs, but usually the big packs are out of stock pretty early), smoked salmon and salmon caviar as well. The best part of buying from here is that you have such a beautiful picnic spot (which may not be ideal in bad weather). I have visited on days when the wind was so strong that you can’t exactly dine outside. The ‘dining area’ inside is very small as well so it is a pretty much eat and evacuate kind of setting. The other salmon shop is called High Country Salmon at Twizel, a town that you will pass by when you are driving to Wanaka/Queenstown. The fun part about this place is that you can feed and see real salmon (they breed them), buy more varieties of salmon (I once bought a slab for grilling) and even buy cooked salmon (not everyone is a fan of raw fish). There isn’t any ‘view’ at this place so it is less ‘instaworthy’ thus I think there’s lesser recommendations as well.
To be honest, I haven’t heard of any tourists trekking around Lake Pukaki. Most of the time, we just drive and stop along various spots for photo taking. The lake is indeed majestic and they are many viewpoints (with parking bays) for you to stop and soak in the beauty of the mountains. The only reason they are doing the awkward trekking (till late, which I do not recommend as NZ is really dark at night; there are not much road lights and even when you drive, you are reliant on your own high beam against the road barrier), is to complete the steps mission. At this point in time while watching the show, I feel that they are truly exhausted from all the physical activity and it was only their 2nd day! I guess being a celebrity is indeed not easy. The only time I managed to exceed 30,000 steps in a day was when I climbed a mountain (Mt Taranaki at North island) and for them to clock steps just for the sake of clocking steps (to complete the mission), it is quite a waste of what NZ has to offer. whoops. But I guess it is for a meaningful cause, for them to earn flight tickets for the youths of Korea.
Glentanner Park Centre, Lake Pukaki, Mt Cook
Address: 3388 Mount Cook Road, Glentanner 7999, New Zealand
Pricing: Non-powered sites from $25 NZD per pax, Backpackers (Hostel) at $45/pax to $260 NZD for a self-contained unit
Given that the YHA at Mt.Cook has closed down, this place is the more affordable option if you don’t wish to fork out more money for the pricier hotels at Mt. Cook. I’ve stayed once at the YHA at Mt.Cook and it was really lovely. Sadly, the entire YHA chain in New Zealand ceased operations during covid and there is no news about its revival yet.
*To be continued*