Our reviews of places, airlines, restaurants and shops are NOT sponsored.
Our opinion is entirely our own.
Aotearoa (Maori Name of New Zealand) is one of the most enchanting places we have ever been to. If you love nature and culture, New Zealand is the destination! We saw geysers, active volcanos, lakes, glaciers, alps mountain ranges, snow, ice, slush and met with the kindest, friendliest people in New Zealand.
If you are travelling from Singapore, you are travelling from the equator towards the Antarctic. A direct flight via Singapore airlines will take about 10 hours. We opted for a cheaper but slower route via Sydney, Australia on Qantas. It was an 8 hour flight from Singapore to Sydney + 2 hour layover + 3 hour flight from Sydney to Auckland.
Singapore Air and Air New Zealand for direct flights
Qantas, Emirates and British Airways for layovers in Australia.
We took a Boeing 747-400 to Sydney and a smaller 737-800 from Sydney to Auckland. It was a HORRIBLE night flight from Singapore to Sydney because we chose exit row seats and the galley was right beside our seats. When the cabin was darkened, we tried to sleep but the crew were busy attending to other passengers. Every single time they entered the galley, they moved the curtains and light would shine on my face. I don't even want to get started on the noise. It isn't worth paying extra for bulkhead/Exit row seats unless it is NOT near the toilets and galley!
If you are laying over in Australia, don't disembark with ANY fresh fruits or food from the plane. The border control officers will ask you to throw them away. We thought we wanted to munch on apples during the layover but was asked to dump them.
We arrived in Auckland at noon GMT +12. New Zealand time is 4 hours ahead of Singapore.
We collected our rental car from Hertz and upon check in at the hotel, we went to stock up on food and drink supplies from a local Countdown supermarket. We rested up for the night and tried to adjust to 4 hours of time difference.
We took a leisurely drive to One Tree Hill and Cornwall park, met with lots of sheep and had AWESOME breakfast at the bistro. (They have since renovated and offer a new menu!). We enjoyed the panoramic views of Auckland but the cold wind got our noses dripping. The 14 degrees Celsius temperature wasn't too cold but wind can really make it feel significantly colder. We drove towards Mission Bay and caught sight Rangitoto Island (Also an inactive volcano). You can also check out the eateries and relax along the beach!
We got to Mount Eden, for a volcano walk. This is one of the 48 volcanic cones in Auckland and the craters were 50 METERS deep. These are dormant volcanos so you don't have to worry about lava, fire and brimstones.
We forgot how nice it is to take walks! We can only dream about strolling with such amazing weather in Singapore. Recall the days when you held your girlfriend/boyfriend's hand and walked gleefully. Nice isn't it?
We spent the rest of our time in Auckland enjoying the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Actually, the museum has more than war relics! There are natural history collections, exquisite Maori cultural artefacts and of course war relics like a WWII Spitfire/Zero Fighter.
For a country of about only 4.7 million, it has an extremely rich history and culture.
If you are craving for Chinese food in Auckland, we recommend going to Sunworld Chinese Restaurant (2A York Street, New Market, Auckland). They serve mouth-watering Chinese food in HUGE portions. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves dining there!
If you are looking for NZ gifts/souvenirs and uniquely NZ/Maori crafts, we recommend this one-stop shop (The Elephant House) at 237 Parnell Rd, Parnell, Auckland. As business people, we applaud the amazing shop concept that show case New Zealand talents and products as well as serve the needs of tourists all under one roof. It is common to find a gift store in most countries that sell commercialised Made in China touristy T-shirts and soft toys. We were able to buy uniquely Kiwi authored kid's story books, NZ honey, NZ skin products and NZ craft made by local people.
If you need more details from our itinerary, please drop us a message or email!
Next post: Part 2 Geysers, Maori Cultural centre, Te puia (Geothermal Valley) and a massive road accident...
Vincent & Debra Kwan, Founders of Hiro & Jack and stay-at-home parents with the odd life.