When thinking about travelling to the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’, most people look forward to breathtaking natural landscapes, laid-back locals and mouthwatering morsels washed down with world-class wines.
Daydreaming is a wonderful and powerful thing, but when it comes to making practical plans, you’re going to need to look into the main airports and airlines in New Zealand. This guide will help you sort through the options so you can plan your ideal itinerary.
Then you can get back to oohing and aahing over pictures of Doubtful Sound (great name for a fjord!).
Before you finalise your plans, don’t forget to check if you need a New Zealand visa to be allowed to enter the country.
International Airports in New Zealand
As you fly in from abroad, you’ve got 5 different options of places to land:
Auckland, New Zealand – Airport Code AKL
With the busiest and biggest airport in New Zealand, Auckland is the first destination for most international travellers.
You can enjoy a wide variety of services, including:
- 2 hours of free Wi-Fi.
- Cafes, bakeries, juice bars.
- Grab-and-go food options, sit-down restaurants.
- Shops and Duty-Free.
- Children’s play area.
- Parking, car hire, public and private transport options.
Thanks to the high volume of passengers, there are motels and hotels near the Auckland airport to fit every budget. Many offer free transfers to and from the hotel. This is good news If your flight gets in quite late and you want somewhere to conk out and sleep off your jet lag. Also, if you get an early flight back, spending the night nearby can maximise your sleep time and cut down on stress levels.
If you are ready to start your adventure right when you arrive, there are several options for car rental at the New Zealand Auckland Airport, with brands like Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty. You’ve also got taxis, shuttles, and public buses that will take you to the centre of the City of Sails.
Christchurch, NZ – Airport Code CHC
Christchurch is the airport hub for New Zealand’s South Island and the second busiest in the country.
In addition to all the regular services you would expect to find at any major airport, there are lots of things that make Christchurch special, from beautiful artwork on display to themed air bridges, free ping pong tables, a giant puzzle and a working piano with “Play Me” painted on it.
If your body is feeling super cramped after your flight, there is a fitness centre (with a free 7-day trial period) just a 5-minute walk from the terminal, at Spitfire Square. And if you want to limber up before spending long hours squeezing your knees behind the seat in front of you, there’s a Stretch and Relaxation Area in the International Departures section itself!
There are several bed and breakfasts, motels and hotels near the Christchurch Airport. There are even some accommodation options within walking distance. If you’re itching to get into the city centre, you can take a bus, shuttle or taxi. The bus is the most economic option, and if you want to save a few extra Kiwi dollars, the bus price drops by half if you take a 5-minute walk and wait at the stop outside the terminal. If you’re planning on renting a car at the airport, it’s strongly recommended that you reserve ahead of time.
Wellington, NZ – Airport Code WLG
Wellington Airport is located just 8 kilometres from the Central Business District of the capital city, so it’s quick and easy to jump in and start enjoying the Windy City. There are a variety of transport options, including bus, shuttle, taxi, cars for hire, app-based pickup and car-sharing.
The facilities offer free Wi-Fi, free showers (bring your own towel), conference centres and meeting rooms for hire, currency exchange, shopping, and a tasty array of food and drink spots.
Queenstown, NZ – Airport Code ZQN
Thanks to its beautiful location near Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps, Queenstown has one of the world’s most scenic approaches as you fly in.
You’ll be eager to get out and explore the Adventure Capital of the World, but during the time you have to spend in the terminal, you can enjoy free Wi-Fi, comfy lounges, duty-free shopping, cafes and dining options. As for transport, you’ve got all the usual options, plus a few different limousine companies if you’re feeling fancy. Otherwise, the public bus chugs through every 15 minutes.
Dunedin, New Zealand – Airport code DUD
Also known as Momona, this is the country’s fifth busiest airport, serving Dunedin city as well as the Otago and Southland regions. While you can always get a coffee or a snack, the dining and shopping options are limited, so plan accordingly. If you do find yourself with time to kill, the X-Zone family entertainment area has pinball machines!
If you’re not one for long road trips, you may want to plan some domestic flights into your itinerary to explore more areas faster. Here’s a list you can consider:
North Island Airports
Kerikeri / Bay of Islands
Napier / Hawke’s Bay
Paraparaumu / Kapiti Coast
South Island Airports
Blenheim / Marlborough
Claris, Great Barrier Island
Ryans Creek, Stewart Island
New Zealand Airlines
Many international carriers fly to this country. Here are some of the airlines you may want to consider for your flight to New Zealand:
Based in Africa:
South African Airways
Based in the Americas:
Based in Asia:
Based in Europe:
Based in the Middle East:
Based in Oceania:
Air New Zealand
Once you’re in the country and moving from place to place, you may want to check out some domestic airlines for your plane tickets:
Air New Zealand*
Fly My Sky
Golden Bay Air
Steward Island Flights
*the nation’s flag carrier airline, with majority government ownership.
If you’re thinking of hiring a charter airline (there’s nothing like sightseeing from the sky!), you have also got some good options:
Frequently Asked Questions
You should now be well prepared to plan your trip, but you may want to take a look at the answers to some of your fellow travellers’ most common questions.
What Is the Time Zone in New Zealand?
Most of the country uses NZ Standard Time, which is UTC+12. However, the Chatham Islands are 45 minutes ahead of the time zone in Auckland and the rest of the mainland.
To give a few examples, NZ is 19 hours ahead of Los Angeles, 16 hours ahead of New York, 11 hours ahead of London and 4 hours ahead of Shanghai.
What’s the Flight Time from Australia to New Zealand?
The non-stop flight time from Melbourne, Australia to Auckland, NZ is about 3 hours and 35 minutes. However, your flight time will vary depending on what city you’re leaving from and where you’re landing.
What Should I Know About Going Through Customs?
You will be given a Passenger Arrival Card before you leave the plane. Take the time to fill out this card before you arrive at passport control. You’ll need to provide your personal information, flight info, your reason for travel, how long you plan to stay, and details about the contents of your luggage.
All food items need to be declared, even the smallest amounts used for cooking, as do all animal products and plant material. If you fail to declare biosecurity risk goods, even if it’s by accident (maybe you forgot about that snack you packed for the trip?), you can be instantly fined 400 NZD. That’s quite a blow to the wallet.
You’ll present your completed card as well as your passport to Customs officials. You should also be ready to truthfully answer any questions they may have. You can request a translator or interpreter if need be. Your bags may be searched, x-rayed or sniffed by detector dogs.
As long as you are completely honest and conscious of what you have in your bags, you should have no problems making it through airport security and out into the fresh Kiwi air.