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[Updated 9 Dec 2019]
Get ready, wanderlusters! New Zealand’s South Island has majestic mountains, picturesque fjords and spectacular glaciers to win over any Muslim traveller. Don't believe us? We'll show you a glimpse of our Muslim-friendly adventure to the South Island of New Zealand!
If you're planning your first trip to New Zealand, our first-timer's guide will provide essential tips for your ultimate getaway. From exploring Christchurch on a tram to bungy jumping at the adventure capital of Queenstown, this one-week itinerary will take you on the trip of your lifetime!
Before heading to the airport, download the SingaporeAir mobile app (available on iOS and Android) to book your ride to the airport, check-in on your mobile, view your boarding pass and get flight updates, all at your fingertips!
Besides reading unlimited international magazines and newspapers from the app, we spent our long flight glued to our screen thanks to the huge variety of movies, TV shows, music and games on Singapore Airlines’ inflight entertainment system, KrisWorld!
Before we know it, our delicious inflight meals arrived! Complete with fragrant rice, chicken curry, mixed salad and sweet dessert, we savoured every bite. Don’t forget to book your Muslim meal when making your reservation.
Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch
After you’ve landed at Christchurch Airport, purchase a Vodafone’s NZ Travel SIM ($49) at the International Arrivals Hall to stay connected! You’ll get 4GB of data and unlimited use of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp for 30 days.
To self-drive on South Island, there are many car and campervan rental companies within the International Arrivals Hall, next to the domestic baggage reclaim area. It includes Avis, Budget, Europcar, Ezi Car Rental, Hertz and more.
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, an international driver's licence, credit card and reservation number to collect your car.
#HHWT Tip: Remember to bring your international driver licence (or driver permit) and book your vehicle in advance during the busy summer season (December to February)!
P.S. Christchurch Airport also has a prayer room that is located next to the domestic baggage reclaim area, which is open to visitors of all faiths.
Look out the window and take in the city views as the friendly driver shares fun facts about Christchurch.
Punting on the Avon River (1 hour)
If you’re taking the Christchurch Tram, alight at the Canterbury Museum stop and walk five minutes to Punting on the Avon River.
Let the Edwardian punter glide the boat along the sparkling Avon River. Just sit comfortably on the velvet cushion and admire the serene garden city around you. Look out for the 130-year-old Weeping Willows and native trees like Kōwhai and Kahikatea!
Gush over adorable Paradise shelducks, also known as Pūtangitangi in Maori. Did you know these ducks are inseparable from their mates? Spot the male (black head) and female (white head) ducks swimming together!
During winter, you’ll be given hot water bottles and blankets to keep you warm.
If you wish to explore at your own pace, you can choose to kayak or canoe too!
Christchurch Mosque (1 hour)
Masjid Al Noor Mosque is located at the edge of the stunning Hagley Park, about 10 minutes from the city centre. Built in 1984, it was the South Island’s first mosque.
Following the events of March 15, Christchurch showed enormous support for their Muslim community, and continue to value Kiwis of all faiths.
Meet Kaka (rare bush parrot), Kea (mountain parrot), Takahe (endangered flightless bird), Tuatara (ancient reptile), and the famous Kiwi (New Zealand’s iconic bird).
Since Kiwis are nocturnal creatures, it’s tricky to find them in the dark, red-lit enclosure. To spot them, listen out for its high-pitched call and foraging sounds! Remember, you’re not allowed to take pictures.
Next, head over to Ko Tane for an interactive Maori cultural experience.
Step foot into the village to experience a lively pōwhiri (Maori welcome) and wero (warrior challenge) where a Maori warrior puts a small branch on the ground. If you pick it up, it signifies that you arrive in peace.
Get blown away by their powerful song performance and a grand speech from the Maori chief. Next, witness a ceremonial greeting called Hongi, where the chief and visitor will gently press their noses and foreheads together, believed to be the exchanging of the breath of life.
We loved the interactive performance which features poi (Maori ball dance) and haka (ancient Maori ritual) where we got to understand their way of life and culture better.
End your night with a traditional Hangi dinner where meat and vegetables are cooked in an underground pit for three to four hours. Served in a buffet-styled dinner, it’s perfect for large groups. Our favourite was the lemon & kawakawa chicken which was really tender!
Halal status: While the kitchen cooks pork and other meats, it’s prepared and wrapped separately to prevent cross-contamination.
There are two stargazing tours: Mount John Observatory Tour (perfect for astronomy fans) and Cowan’s Observatory Tour (great for a relaxing stargaze).
We went for the Cowan’s Observatory Tour which took around 75 mins.
When we arrived, it was almost pitch black, and we were only given red LED lights to navigate the pebbled pathways. Since white lights are not allowed in the area, we were not allowed to use our phones or torch lights.
It was surreal to see the Milky Way, Orion constellation and shooting stars before our very eyes. Since we live in the city, we’ve never seen anything like this before!
With our hot chocolate in hand, we saw many star clusters like The Jewel Box through a powerful telescope. Our astronomy guide shared many fascinating stories about constellations too.
Since it has a moderate difficulty level (3 hours return), wear comfortable shoes as the path is filled with elevated slopes, small steps and rocky pathways.
While hiking, take in the national park’s mountainous landscapes, beautiful glaciers, gushing river and clear blue skies.
You know you’ve completed the track when you’ve crossed all three swing bridges!
P.S. The sunset times differ as the seasons change. In winter, the sunsets slightly before 5.30PM and in summer, it sets between 8.30PM and 10PM. Since there are no lights along the hiking trail, bring a torchlight if you’re hiking in the evening.
#HHWT Tip: When flood hits, a partial closure of Hooker Valley Track may take place for the hikers' safety. Before your trip, check the latest update on Hooker Valley Track at the Department of Conservation.
Right next to the ice cream truck, there’s a mobile souvenir shop where you can buy lavender oil, body lotion and tea sachets. We even bought the roll-on lavender oil, which is super convenient and very soothing!
High Country Salmon (1.5 hours)
For a quick lunch, take a 15-min drive to High Country Salmon.
Walk around the salmon farm that floats above the glacial waters of Wairepo Arm. You can also feed the salmon fishes for free (your kids will love this one!).
We’re here for one thing: Fresh salmon! While the cafe offers everything from salmon burgers to poke bowls, we loved the sashimi the most. It tasted fresh and great on its own.
Halal status: All the food is either vegetarian or seafood except for pastries, which are brought in by various suppliers and not prepared in the kitchen. We recommend that you dine at your own discretion.