With the ringgit at an all-time low and cost of living at an all-time high, many people are cancelling their overseas holiday plans for something a little closer to home. You can go on a ‘foodie trip’ to Seremban or Ipoh, brush up on local history in Malacca and Penang, enjoy the beach babe/bum lifestyle in Terengganu or Kelantan, go hiking in Taman Negara, watch the sunrise from Broga Hill… the list is endless! However, places where you can enjoy cool weather and fresh air – besides the usual places like Genting Highlands, Fraser’s Hill and Cameron Highlands – seem to be few and far between in Malaysia.

But what if I told you that you can experience a small part of New Zealand – complete with stunning mountain views, black and white farm cows, fresh milk and even fresher air – right on our very own Malaysian soil?

Photo by Nadiah Ibrahim/Flickr

Photo by Nadiah Ibrahim/Flickr


desa farm cows

These cows ain’t moooooving anywhere

what if i told you this is in sabah

This is where Desa Dairy Farm comes in. Located in Kundasang, Sabah and nestled near the foothills of Mount Kinabalu, Desa Dairy Farm is about 100km (or 2.5-3 hours drive) away from Kota Kinabalu. The farm sits on 199 hectares of land, with a view of the majestic Mount Kinabalu overlooking beautiful green pastures dotted with grazing cows, not forgetting the cool breeze that Kundasang has to offer. In fact, you might want to bring an extra jacket or two, because it can apparently get quite cold there, enforcing the illusion that you’re in New Zealand. A minimal entrance fee is charged, RM5 for adults and RM4 for children. The farm is also a popular spot for wedding photography, but be warned: an extra fee will be charged for couples who want to shoot their wedding photos or video here.

desa dairy farm entrance archway

Archway at the entrance to Desa Dairy Farm

desa dairy farm entrance fee

Judging from the many reviews it has collected on its Facebook page and various travel sites, visitors love the scenery and atmosphere at Desa Dairy Farm, with many saying that it felt like they were in New Zealand, not Sabah, while holidaying there. There is a minimal entrance fee to the farm, and activities are lined up daily, including calf feeding, cow milking, milk processing (pasteurization), cow barn viewing, guided tours, and even a cheese cellar tour! Talk about fun and educational for the whole family. πŸ™‚

desa dairy farm 01

desa dairy farm 03

Of course, you can’t have cows and a dairy farm without yummy dairy products! The farm produces about 900,00 litres of milk per year, and most of the milking cows are Friesians, the highest milk producers of all cattle breeds. Visitors can buy the fresh milk packed in boxes, as well as enjoy delicious creamy gelato (ice-cream) and yoghurt in different flavours that are crowd favourites.

Freshly boxed Desa milk (Image source: Photo Travel Asia)

Freshly boxed Desa milk (Image source: Photo Travel Asia)

Nothing like fresh gelato in chilly weather! (Photo from huislaw.com)

Nothing like fresh gelato in chilly weather! (Photo from huislaw.com)

Enjoy delicious in different flavours while admiring the view of Mount Kinabalu (Photo from Desa Dairy Farm Facebook)

Enjoy delicious yoghurt in different flavours while admiring the view of Mount Kinabalu (Photo from Desa Dairy Farm Facebook)

If you’re not the type to hang around these bovine buddies with your family and/or friends, you can take a short trip to the nearby Kundasang War Memorial (3.5km), which was built in 1962 to commemorate the brave Australian and British Prisoners of War (POWs) who died in Sandakan and during the infamous death marches to Ranau during World War II. The memorial also remembers the people of North Borneo who risked their lives to help the POWs. The memorial is made up of four beautiful gardens – the Australian Garden, the English Garden, the Borneo Garden and the Contemplation Garden and Pool – to represent the different nationalities.

Kundasang War Memorial

Kundasang War Memorial

We admit, there’s probably not much to do at the farm after Day 1, but no worries, there are plenty of other things to do in the vicinity. After all, the farm is right on the edges of Kinabalu National Park, and with the Mount Kinabalu Golf Club less than 2km away. There are also several resorts, hotels, homestays and camping locations nearby, so you can relax with a massage, or head out to explore the beauty of nature.

Well, it’s time to kill two (or more) birds with one stone, so to speak:

  1. Fulfill your wanderlust
  2. Leave on a jet plane
  3. Travel to somewhere with a cold climate
  4. Pretend you’re in New Zealand
  5. Contribute to the local economy
  6. Get the dairy farm experience without having to exchange foreign currencies
  7. Improve your Malaysian geography and history (and knowledge in general)
  8. Savour delicious milk/dairy products
  9. You get to visit this adorable little fellow here:

hello there baby cow

Even if New Zealand isn’t your glass of milk (ha!), there are plenty of other interesting places in Malaysia that can make you feel like you’re on an overseas vacation. May we suggest these quaint yet colourful β€œroof houses” inspired by Melbourne’s Brighton Beach but conveniently located in Malacca instead? πŸ˜‰

Desa Dairy Farm, Sabah official Facebook page (link)
OhBulan! Facebook page (link)
Sabah Tourism Board official website (link)
Tripadvisor (link)