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How to get to New Zealand

New Zealand is about as far away as it's possible to go, right? A couple of days of travelling time, and you end up somewhere on the far side of Timbuktu, yeah?

Nope! It depends where you're coming from. You might be surprised. If you live on the West Coast of the USA, or Canada, for instance, it's way easier to get to New Zealand than it is to anywhere in Europe, for several reasons:

1. It's the same distance, give or take 30 minutes or so of flight time.
2. The flights leave in the evening, so you can sleep on the way.
3. The time zones are very similar - only a three hour difference between Pacific Time and NZ time. This is a MAJOR benefit, as anyone who's experienced serious jetlag will know.
4 You can fly with Air New Zealand, which, as airlines go, is a VERY good one. Have you seen their awesome collection of safety videos? Check them out here:

So, let's look at the logistics in more detail…

Flying from North America

Air New Zealand

If you're on or near the West Coast, it's easy. Air New Zealand operates several direct flights from Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston, each leaving in the evening, taking about 12 hours, (14 from Vancouver) and arriving in New Zealand in the morning. Which means - tada! - you can sleep most of the way. Getting to New Zealand from the West Coast of North America is really not too bad.

American Airlines

We're all for a bit of competition - to keep our beloved Air New Zealand ranked at the top (#1 on and American Airlines is offering just that. They now offer a direct daily service from Los Angeles to Auckland, and as there are over 200 connecting flights into LAX, this provides improved access from the East Coast as well. So those on a One World Alliance will be chuffed with this service. 

United Airlines

United Airlines, in partner with Air New Zealand (Star Alliance), have made heading down our way much easier with direct flights to Auckland from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston. United Airlines is the world's biggest carrier by the number of cities served with 226 US cities and 136 international destinations on its network.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines offers a non-stop service from Honolulu to Auckland three times a week on an A330 aircraft. On these flights you'll get a generous 2 x 32kg per person, though you shouldn't need that much on an adventure tour with us! 

Continental Airlines

Continental Airlines fly direct from Houston, Texas, to Auckland, using the 787 Dreamliner. If it's easier for you to get to Houston than to the West Coast, we recommend this route (even though it's not with Air New Zealand :-)). Alternatively, you'll need to get to Los Angeles or San Francisco on a domestic airline. So, yeah, ok, the flight across the US, or Canada, can be a bit of a mission - cos you're usually awake for it, and the seats are smaller - but the international section of the flight is usually a relative doddle. We can't stress this enough - the flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver leave in the evening, so if you time it right and take a few simple precautions, you'll snooze your way over the Pacific and be in New Zealand in no time.

If you'd like to book your flights with a travel agent, we recommend Down Under Answers based in Seattle. They're great at finding decent airfares on account of the large volume of flights they book down here. You can reach them on 1-800-889-1464 and be sure to tell them you've booked with Active!

Flying from Europe

OK, if you're coming from Europe, yes, you have a long way to go. We always recommend Air New Zealand, if possible, for a whole lotta reasons - one of the most important, in this case, being that Air New Zealand has the most direct routes and convenient flight times to and from New Zealand. So, if you're coming from anywhere in Europe on Air NZ, you'll fly out of London, with two flights of around 11 hours each. The cool thing is, those flights are generally in the evening. Which means if you do it right, you can travel in the most comfortable way possible - fast asleep! If you possibly can, we recommend that you break your trip for 24 hours in Hong Kong. Take the modern, fast and convenient airport train into the city, stay in one of the many fabulous hotels in Hong Kong - some of which are located on highrise towers literally overhead the train station - and put your feet up. Get a good night's sleep, sleep in the following day, check out Hong Kong for a few hours, then catch the onward flight to New Zealand. It's always a BIT of a mission, but if you go about it correctly, it's really not too bad. We recommend checking out The Active Guide To Survive And Thrive On A Long Flight.

Flying from Australia

Easy peasy! You guys have NOTHING to worry about - it's a three hour flight, or less, there are direct flights from all major Australian cities, and of course the time zone difference is minimal. The flights are a doddle - it's easier to get to New Zealand from Sydney or Melbourne than it is to get to Perth, which is twice as far away!

Flying from other parts of the world

No matter where you are, you can fly to New Zealand, and the Star Alliance network of airlines means that you can get a round-trip fare to New Zealand from just about anywhere.

So that's the 'how' to get here. Now we better look at the next issue - where do you look to find the best deals?


Trip Reviews

  4.53 out of 5 (from 4941 reviews)

Perfect Trip for anyone who loves Nature!

If you enjoy being outdoors and like to challenge yourself this trip is for you. I wasn't an avid hiker before signing up for the Rimu trip but after reading the itinerary I knew I couldn't pass up this amazing opportunity. You never know what you are capable of until you try and that is how I feel after climbing up to the Angelus Hut and hiking to Mueller ridge. I had never climbed a mountain before (since there are no mountains where I live) but the views are more than worth the climb.
This trip is the best way to see all that the South Island has to offer, it is the perfect balance between adventure, relaxation, self-exploration, and cultural immersion. Anyone can go to New Zealand and rent a car and go hiking, biking, and Kayaking; however, they will miss out on the best parts of traveling to a new place and that is the knowledge and culture that only someone who lives there would know. The guides (Tory and Vanessa) were awesome! Tory is an amazing cook, and Ness was great at making jokes and keeping the atmosphere cheery during the longer drives. I loved listening to the guides tell us about the Maori people and the local legends or folklore. I actually thought Ness was lying to me when she would tell me that the views get better after being left speechless by the scenery, but every day was better than the previous!
I have to mention the FOOD!!! The food alone is enough for me to sign up for this trip again. When I travel I don’t always know what the local food is or would be but with this trip the guides cook you all sorts of local food and all the food is fresh and delicious. If you don’t like something they will make sure to accommodate you.
Ness and Tory made you feel like this was a trip among friends and family, not strangers. I will come back to New Zealand again!
Brian Heinz Review Image
– Wisconsin, United States
Rimu, May 2017
Read Reviews

Approx NZ flight times

Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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