Travel Hacks

How to Get to New Zealand

Lauren Coffey
January 16, 2024

So, you’ve decided to make the trek over to New Zealand?!

First of all, let me take a second to say, CONGRATULATIONS! I’m equally excited and jealous of your upcoming adventure.

You’ve got so many majestic mountain landscapes in your near future. **Cue opening song to Lord of The Rings in the Shire**  


Ok, next order of business - how the heck do you get there?! Isn’t New Zealand like a million bajillion miles away?!

The answer is no, not exactly! Well it’s far, but not as far as you might think.

How to Get to New Zealand


Lets start with flights to New Zealand:

  1. Flights to New Zealand leave in the evening from the US and are overnight flights, arriving mid morning in NZ. This means you’ll have ample time to sleep on your flight and then wake up on NZ schedule. You won’t have the deepest sleep of your life on the plane, but if you can get a few hours in that should be enough to propel you into the Kiwi sleeping pattern.
  2. There are a lot of direct flight options to New Zealand from major United States hubs including: Los Angeles,  Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, and even Honolulu.
  3. International flights mean big, comfy, planes that offer meals, in flight entertainment, Wi-Fi, and checked bags.

Keep in mind that due to the time difference, you will have to leave TWO days prior to your scheduled arrival date. So if your trip starts on February 22, you will need to leave on February 20. Turns out time travel IS real!

Let’s take a look at some different ways to get you to those misty mountains. There are several different airline carriers  to choose from, and depending on where you are leaving from, some might work out better than others.

Check out some of the best options for getting to New Zealand.

Air New Zealand

After pouring over tons of different flight scenarios, Air New Zealand gets the award for best option for flights that are easy, comfortable, and affordable.

They have direct flights to Auckland from Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, and Honolulu. If you happen to live in or near one of those hubs it’ll be super easy for you. If not, it’ll still be super easy for you to find a  flight to your nearest hub and then link up with the international flight.

Take a look at some round-trip flight plans coming from the US to New Zealand on Air New Zealand:

Trip 1

Chicago to Christchurch (with a layover in Auckland)
Depart: 7:10PM - Arrive: 9:25AM (+2 days)
Wednesday, Friday, Sunday
19h 15m

Christchurch to Chicago (with a layover in Auckland)
5:00PM Arrive: 4:15PM (same day)
Wednesday, Friday, Sunday
18h 15m

Trip 2

LAX to Christchurch (with a layover in Auckland)
Depart: 9:40PM - Arrive: 10:25AM (+2 days)
Any day
 15h 45m

Christchurch to LAX (with a layover in Auckland)
 8:00PM - Arrive: 1:55PM (same day)
 Any day
14h 55m

Trip 3

Houston to Christchurch (with a layover in Auckland)
 7:20PM - Arrive: 8:25AM (+2 days)
 Any day
18h 5m

Christchurch to Houston (with a layover in Auckland)
4:30PM - Arrive: 2:05PM (same day)
 Any day
 16h 35m

Air New Zealand often has flight deals and will run promotions periodically throughout the year. If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, keep an eye on their website and check in often and try to time your purchase with one of their promos or deals.

So what exactly is included on an economy fare with Air NZ? Is this one of those bare bones flights where you have to pay extra for every little thing?

Nope! Their Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft has some pretty nice amenities.

You’ll get:
-A standard seat
-A carry-on bag of up to 15lbs
-Checked-in bag of up to 50lbs
-Inflight meal
-Inflight Entertainment
-Airpoints Dollars™ and Status Points on every flight

Check out their website and take a look at their Dreamliner plane to see what in-flight movies and food they have available.

They also have a YouTube channel that will induce some serious wanderlust, so if you are looking for that sort of thing, go check it out!



United is an excellent option if you don’t live in one of the major Air New Zealand hubs. The biggest positive about United is that they have a partnership with Air New Zealand and offer direct flights to Auckland from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston.

If you’re coming from the east coast you’d have to layover somewhere anyway, and since United has flights out of 226 US cities it might be easier to find a complete flight from A to B if you aren’t coming from one of the major Air New Zealand hubs.

What’s included on United Flights?

Same thing as Air New Zealand! United will get you to the closest Air New Zealand hub, and then you’ll switch onto one of  their planes for your flight to Auckland.

American Airlines

If you don’t live in an Air New Zealand hub city, and you don’t like United, American Airlines is definitely not a bad option.

American Airlines has direct flights to Auckland from Los Angeles every day and use the same state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner as Air New Zealand. So you can expect the same amenities.

Here’s an idea of what you can expect:
-Fully lie-flat seats and direct aisle access in Business
-In-seat entertainment
-USB and power ports
-International Wi-Fi
-Inflight meals


Third Party Search Engines

If you live near an Air New Zealand hub, the easiest way to book is most likely directly through their website. But for people who live OUTSIDE the major hubs, third party search engines will be especially useful to find the cheapest flight on the best route.

I highly recommend checking them out before booking your ticket!!

Google Flights

Google flights has been a long time favorite of mine for picking the best flight combos for the best price. Looking for flights to New Zealand, it continues to hold down the top spot. Definitely check here and try out as many different combos as you can to find the best flight possible.

A few insider tips for using Google Flights:

  1. Search in “private” or “incognito” browsing mode as sites are known to save your searches using cookies and will manipulate the prices.
  2. Search at random times during the day/night. Prices can often vary drastically and most sites will know that you’ll be searching around dinner and lunch time, so prices might be higher at that time.
  3. Take Advantage of  Google Flights’ tracking feature. They will let you know when prices increase or decrease, and they will also give you predictions for when to expect a rise or drop in prices.
  4. Check the Dates area in Flight Insights to look at the full month’s calendar and see if there are cheaper flights available on other dates, if you have a flexible schedule.
  5. Check the Price Graph in the Flight Insights section to see what the average cost of a flight to your destination usually is on the day of the week you’re searching.  


Kayak has been voted the #1 search engine for finding cheap flights. It has a lot of the same features as Google Flights such as price tracking and filtering for the best flights, but it tends to find cheaper flights (according to a few articles I read).

I found Kayak and Google Flights to be comparable, so it’s worth your time to search on both to find the cheapest option.


Expedia offers a lot of last-minute bargains and discounts on flights and hotels. If Google or Kayak  haven’t led you to a great deal, I would take a look at what Expedia has to offer. It’s a very similar platform to Kayak, but doesn’t have the same flexible dates options.


Time Difference

Ever wanted to live in the future? If you're going to New Zealand, that's exactly what's going to least if you're coming from the United States.

New Zealand time is:
16 hours ahead of New York
17 hours ahead of Austin, Texas
19 hours ahead of Los Angeles

So when it’s 10:00AM on Saturday in New Zealand, it’s 6:00PM on Friday in New York, 5:00PM Friday in Austin, and 3:00PM Friday in Los Angeles.

But check this out, I haven’t even got to the kicker yet.

The amazing news is that if you are coming from the west coast, it’s really only a 5 hour difference for your body. Granted, as the calendar goes, you’ll be a full day ahead, but your body doesn’t know that! This will make jetlag SOOO much easier than a trip to Europe, where you might encounter a 9 hour difference, basically flipping night and day on you!


Ready, set, TAKEOFF!

Umm why are you still reading this? It’s all outlined for you.

Go book your flight! The experience of a lifetime is waiting for you.

Lauren Coffey
Lauren is a trip leader for Under30Experiences. She was born and raised in the desert but feels most at home in the mountains. Her goal is to get people out of their comfort zones and pumped about new experiences.


last minute deals


As Seen In...