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Whether you’re excited to experience the great outdoors, an adrenaline rush with adventure activities or embark on your own Middle-earth experience, travelling to New Zealand’s North Island is on everyone's bucket list! With so many unique experiences and scenic spots, you’ll be spoilt for choice and that’s why our exciting video is here to help!
If you're planning your first getaway, check out our essential tips for first-time travellers to New Zealand. Can’t wait to hop on a plane already? This itinerary is all you need to fall in love with New Zealand’s North Island in eight days!
Fly from Malaysia to New Zealand via Singapore
On our Air New Zealand’s flight from Singapore, we got to try the Economy Skycouch™! Perfect for extra room during our long-haul flight, we transformed a row of Economy seats into a comfortable bed, which is great for families with kids!
Once we got comfy, we were glued to our screens with a huge variety of movies on Air New Zealand’s inflight entertainment system. There was even The Lord of the Rings film trilogy that kept us hooked for hours.
If you’re not seated next to your friends or family, not to worry because you can chat with each other using the Seat Chat function. Tell them how much you loved the movie you just watched!
Our inflight meals were really yummy! Don’t forget to book your Muslim Meal during reservation.
If you’re feeling thirsty in the middle of the night and meal service is over, you can order inflight bites such as coffee, tea or juice from the screen!
Once you’ve arrived at Auckland International Airport, head over to the landside Arrivals area to buy Vodafone’s NZ Travel SIM that is perfect for travellers (like you!). For $49, you’ll get 4GB of data and unlimited use of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp for 30 days.
If you are planning to self-drive on the North Island, there are many car rental companies available at the airport, from Jucy Rental to Omega Car.
You can choose an economy car (for couples), SUV (for a small family), campervan (for a family with kids), and more. For our trip, we rented a Premium Minivan from Budget New Zealand, which is perfect for a group of five adults.
For international travellers, you need to provide your passport, international driver license, credit card and reservation number to collect your car.
#HHWT Tip: If you want to self-drive in New Zealand, remember to bring your international driver license (or driver permit) and book your vehicle in advance during the busy summer season (December to February).
Before you take the leap, the AJ Hackett team will give a quick briefing and help you with your safety gear. If you’re wearing glasses, you can keep your glasses on until moments before you jump, and you can put them back on immediately when you return to the jump pod!
It may seem scary, but you should give this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity a try. P.S. We were all nervous too and while it was scary, it was a fun kind of scary! The AJ Hackett team was very encouraging too, which really helped.
Once you’re ready, stand at the edge of the platform and experience two seconds of heart-thumping free fall. Take it up a notch by requesting to touch the ocean waters. It’ll be the highlight of your day.
Perfect for any thrill seeker, anyone from as young as 10 years old can join the fun!
Enjoy delicious Afghan dinner (1.5 hours)
Treat yourself to a dinner at Samadi, a Muslim-owned restaurant specialising in Afghan cuisine.
Recommended dishes: Mantu (Afghan dumpling stuffed with beef mince), Kabob (meat skewers) and Qorma (beef cooked in an onion, tomato and garlic sauce).
Every single dish was so yummy and we’re not exaggerating!
Address: Samadi, Unit A, 11 Pt Chevalier Road, Auckland
Halal status: Muslim-owned
Day 2: Auckland
Shuck oysters at The Shuckle Ferry (2 hours)
Wake up early and take a 1.5-hour drive to Mahurangi Harbour.
#HHWT Tip: It was cold and windy on the waters (in summer!) when we arrived, so bring a jacket or sweater.
It was great to hear the owner Phil share interesting stories about the farm, oysters and harbour. We learned that Pacific oysters are left to grow naturally for a year before being farmed. It’s as natural as it gets!
After that, feast on a big bowl of fresh Pacific oysters! Believe us when we say it was one of the freshest and creamiest oysters we’ve ever tasted. It was perfect with a few drops of lemon juice!
Phil also grilled some oysters which paired perfectly with garlic butter sauce!
Drive an hour to Warkworth for your next stop.
Taste the sweetness of Manuka honey (1 hour)
For something sweet, you must visit the Honey Centre Warkworth.
Join the guided tour and learn everything from the life of the honey bee to the process of making Manuka honey.
Our favourite part was sampling various honey flavours. Try the Pohutukawa (New Zealand’s Christmas tree), raspberry and Mochaccino-flavoured honey! Do note that some flavours contain alcohol, so remember to check before you purchase.
Round up your trip with the sweetest Manuka honey ice cream. The perfect treat for a sunny afternoon!
Once done, enjoy a short drive to Parnell & Newmarket (45 mins).
Shop ‘til you drop at Parnell and Newmarket(2 hours)
Delight your senses with ice creams at Giapo (1 hour)
If you’re craving for ice cream after dinner, Giapo’s out-of-this-world ice cream creations will blow your mind!
Owners Giapo and Annarosa are known for combining technology, art and science to create one-of-a-kind wonder cones.
Snap pictures with the Wearable Cones and Selfie Cone or enjoy the crunchy Agria chips from Hot Chips In A Cone.
Remember to check out the chocolate-coated Colossal Squid ice cream, which is inspired by the colossal squid display at Te Papa Museum in Wellington!
Unlike other ice cream stores which usually have a freezer, there isn't any in Giapo. Instead, your host will give you a brief introduction to all the different flavours and you are welcome to try them all before deciding.
Address: 12 Gore Street, Auckland
Halal status: Muslim-friendly (all flavours are halal except the blackberry ice cream)
Hobbiton Movie Set is a must-visit for all fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films! P.S. Hobbiton is a 2.5-hour drive from Auckland.
Your tour guide will share interesting facts about the different Hobbit holes, where famous scenes were filmed. P.S. Did you know you can guess the occupation of the Hobbit by looking at each Hobbit Hole?
Remember to visit Bilbo Baggins’ famous Shire beneath the old oak tree.
If you want to take a photo with a Hobbit Hole, look out for the house with a red door. It’s the only one that you can enter!
Quench your thirst at The Green Dragon Inn with a non-alcoholic ginger beer.
To feast like a Hobbit, go for the Evening Banquet and Hobbiton Movie Set Tour + Meal Combo where you’ll enjoy golden roast chicken, salmon fillet and lamb shank. Remember to book in advance!
Halal status: While all meats are halal-certified, we recommend that you to dine at your own discretion.
#HHWT Tip: Since tickets sell out quickly and you’ll have a slim chance of entering if you walk-in, book your tickets online!
Perform Solat at the Hamilton Mosque (1 hour)
Take a short drive to Hamilton Mosque (45 mins).
Perform your prayers and meet the Muslim community too!
Admire the blooms at Hamilton Gardens (2 hours)
Hamilton Gardens is a well-loved attraction that tells the story of gardens through various times and civilisations. Today, there are 24 themed gardens to explore!
Our favourite is the Katherine Mansfield garden that took our breath away.
While walking around the Maori-themed Te Parapara garden, we were pretty surprised to find sweet potatoes which the locals call it kumara! We were told that the potatoes would be presented to the Maori king and local communities once harvested. How cool!
If you have more time or you are visiting the gardens around lunchtime, pre-order a picnic basket from Hamilton Gardens Cafe!
Halal status: All meats are halal-certified and while the cafe serves pork, pork dishes are prepared separately. Do note that alcohol is served on the premises.
Feel closer to home at Lazat Malaysian Restaurant
Craving for flavours closer to home (Malaysia and Singapore)? You’ll find nasi goreng, murtabak and even Milo Dinosaur at Lazat Malaysian Restaurant!
Address: 803 Victoria Street, Hamilton 3204
Halal status: Lazat serves Muslim-friendly food but do note they serve alcohol on the premise too.
Day 4: Waitomo and Rotorua
See the glowworm at Waitomo Caves (3 hours)
Begin your morning with an hour-long drive to Waitomo from Hamilton.
For an afternoon of adventure, there are many things to do at Skyline Rotorua!
If you love anything fast-paced, you’re going to love riding the luge, ziplining down the Redwood Forest, going downhill mountain biking and screaming your lungs out at Skyswing, a swing that hoists you over Lake Rotorua and you decide when to release the swinging drop!
When you’re riding the gondola, check out the beautiful scenery of Lake Rotorua and geothermal vistas.
If you’re curious about the Maori culture (the indigenous people of New Zealand), head over to Whakarewarewa to see a living Maori village where you can interact with Maori residents.
Aside from being a cultural attraction, you’ll get to watch a Maori dance performance and explore the geothermal sites.
The village also serves a traditional Hangi dinner where meat and vegetables are cooked in an underground pit. While the kitchen does not serve pork, do note that the chicken and beef are not halal. We recommend that you dine at your discretion.
Anyone who loves the outdoors will fall head over heels with Redwoods Treewalk, just a 20-min drive from Te Puia.
A popular spot for recreational activities, you can see beautiful lakes, panoramic views and exotic native trees (spot the Californian Redwood tree!) in this forest.
For short walks, wander the boardwalk of Redwood Memorial Grove Track (30 mins) to see towering Redwood trees and a thermal pond filled with aquatic plant life.
Otherwise, the Waitawa Walk (1 hour) will take you through Redwoods to see towering Douglas fir trees. Challenge yourself and see if you can spot New Zealand's famous Silver fern and the massive Mamaku ferns!