The least expensive airfares to New Zealand are priced for round-trip travel and must usually be purchased in advance. Airlines generally allow you to change your return date for a fee; most low-fare tickets, however, are nonrefundable. To expedite an airline fare search on the Web, check travel search engines with meta-search technology, such as www.mobissimo.com. These search across a broad supplier base so you can compare rates offered by travel agents, consolidators, and airlines in one fell swoop.
Although air travel within New Zealand can be expensive compared with bus travel, the one-way fare system does make it easy to get around, especially if you don't want to spend all your time on the road. These days, booking your domestic flights in conjunction with your international flight won't necessarily save you any money, but it can help if connecting flights are running late—they will hold your next flight for you if possible. Luggage allowances are generally 1 x 23 kg (50 lb) bag when flying with Air New Zealand, and 1 x 30 kg (70 lb) bag when flying with Qantas, though these vary depending on online booking specials. Some airlines give great deals if you add stopovers to your flight itinerary. You'll need to stop in at a Pacific destination like Tahiti or Fiji for a limited time before heading to New Zealand. Check with the airline and see what they're offering; make sure that New Zealand is included in Pacific deals because sometimes it's the one exception. Qantas has a low-budget airline called Jetstar, which serves trans-Tasman and between major New Zealand hubs Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, and Queenstown. When booking domestic flights with either Jetstar or Air New Zealand make sure you read the fine print regarding baggage allowance, as the cheaper fares have zero checked baggage allowance. If you hold an international student identification card, you'll save even more. But make sure you check in well before time! Jetstar is notorious for turning away passengers if they arrive even one second after cutoff time.
From New York to Auckland (via Los Angeles) flights take about 19 hours; from Chicago, about 17 hours; from Los Angeles to Auckland (nonstop), about 12 hours. From the United States and Canada, you will have to connect to a New Zealand–bound flight in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Houston.
All international departure taxes are now factored into your airfare.
For domestic flights within New Zealand, check in at least a half hour before departure.
It is not required that you reconfirm outbound flights from or within New Zealand.
In line with all airlines, all New Zealand domestic and international bound flights are no-smoking.
Airline Security Issues
Transportation Security Administration. Transportation Security Administration has answers for almost every question that might come up. www.tsa.gov.
The major airport is Auckland International Airport (AKL). It is usually a bit cheaper to fly into and out of this airport, but the supplemental fees for flights to Wellington (WLG) or Christchurch (CHC) are reasonable. New Zealand's airports are relatively compact and easy to negotiate.
Auckland’s international and domestic terminals are in separate buildings, a 10-minute walk apart. Free bus shuttles run constantly (however, after an incoming long-haul flight you may find that the walk and fresh air is great for the soul!). Christchurch International Airport is the main gateway to southern tourism destinations. After a major redevelopment, completed in 2013, it was awarded "New Zealand Major Airport of the Year" for its design and facilities.
New Zealand has a dense network of domestic air routes, so hopping from one area to another is fairly easy, if not inexpensive. Air New Zealand partners with other international airlines and serves smaller regional airports, so you can make these flight arrangements when booking your international flight. There are also several smaller regional and charter companies with planes carrying a dozen passengers or less.
Auckland International Airport. 09/275–0789; www.aucklandairport.co.nz.
Christchurch International Airport. 03/358–5029; www.christchurchairport.co.nz.
Wellington International Airport. 04/385–5100; www.wellingtonairport.co.nz.
Air New Zealand flies two to three times a day from Los Angeles to Auckland and is the only carrier that extends a daily nonstop flight from San Francisco to Auckland. Qantas flies from Los Angeles to New Zealand daily, mostly through Sydney. United and Air Canada, affiliates of Air New Zealand, connect from points in North America to Los Angeles. Fiji Airways connects from Los Angeles through Nadi, Fiji, with Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.
Within New Zealand, Air New Zealand and Jetstar compete on intercity trunk routes, along with smaller airlines Sounds Air, Origin, and Air Chathams who fly several intercity routes.
Several airlines provide services to Australia: trans-Tasman flights are available from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Queenstown.
Air Canada. 888/247–2262; 09/969–7470; 0508/747–767; www.aircanada.com.
Air Chathams. 0800/580--127; www.airchathams.co.nz.
Air New Zealand. 800/262–1234; 0800/737–000; www.airnewzealand.co.nz.
British Airways. 800/247–9297; 09/966–9777; www.britishairways.com.
Cathay Pacific. 020/8834–8888; 09/379--0833; 800/233–2742; www.cathaypacific.com.
Fiji Airways. 0800/800--178; www.fijiairways.com.
Japan Airlines. 800/525–3663; 844/569–700; 0800/885--880; www.jal.com.
Jetstar. 0800/800–995; 866/397--8170; www.jetstar.co.nz.
Originair. 0800/380--380; www.originair.co.nz.
Qantas. 800/227–4500; 0845/774–7767; 0800/808–767; www.qantas.com.au.
Singapore Airlines. 800/742–3333; 020/8961–6993; 0800/808–909; www.singaporeair.com.
Sounds Air. 0800/505--505; www.soundsair.com.
United Airlines. 800/864–8331; 800/538–2929; 0800/747–400; www.united.com.
Virgin Australia. 0800/670–000; 07/3295–3000; www.virginaustralia.com.