New Zealand’s largest airports
With frequentdomestic flights each day, these airports are the cheapest options to travel to on a backpacker budget:
- Auckland (AKL)
- Wellington (WLG)
- Christchurch (CHC)
- Queenstown (ZQN)
- Hamilton (HLZ)
- Nelson (NSN)
Air Travel in New Zealand
Daily domestic flights between 25 destinations in New Zealand make air travel a convenient and fast way to get from oneside of the country to the other. For example, it takes 1h55min to fly from Auckland airport to Queenstown airport.
Which cities to fly between in New Zealand
If you choose to fly within New Zealand, we recommend flying within the four following airports:
- Auckland (AKL)
- Wellington (WGT)
- Christchurch (CHC)
- Queenstown (ZQN)
Those are the cheapest to fly to and from while otherairports are much smaller and therefore more expensive to use. To get to “smaller” destinations in New Zealand quickly and cheaply, take a flight to one of the main airports mentioned above then take one of the coach companies to your destination. Check out more about bus travel in Bus Networks in New Zealand.
Main Domestic airlines in New Zealand
The main domestic airlines in New Zealand are:
- Jet Star
- Air New Zealand
Which New Zealand airline to use
Jet Star boasts itself on budget, whereas Air NZ offers tea and cookies on morning flights or alcoholic beverages and crackers in the evening. After that comparison, it is impossible to decide between the two! Jokes aside, it is worth mentioning that Air New Zealand offers flights to a lot more destinations than Jet Star. On the other hand, Jet Star tends to offer the cheaper fare of the two, even if the prices are usually marginally. Make sure to check them both out! (Plus, you won’t want to miss the 9 Best Air New Zealand Safety Videos).
Tip for getting cheap fares
Compare prices on meta flight search engines like Skyscanner that will find the cheapest route for you and point you to the right company to book your ticket directly on the airline’s websites, jetstar.com, airnewzealand.com and Air New Zealand’s grabaseat.co.nz.
Other domestic airlines in New Zealand
There are smaller domestic airlines offering services to more “off the beaten track” locations.
North Island airlines include:
- Barrier Air (Auckland – Great Barrier Island)
- Fly My Sky (Auckland – Great Barrier Island)
All Sunair, Barrier Air and Fly My Sky offer flights to Great Barrier Island, a populated island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. For more information, check out Great Barrier Island – Guide for Backpackers.Sunair also operates daily flights to the North Island’s cities, including Auckland (Ardmore Airport), Whangarei, Great Barrier, Whitianga, Tauranga, Hamilton, Rotorua and Gisborne.
South Island Airlines include:
Stewart Island Flights operates from Invercargill and Oban in Stewart Island. They do flights across Stewart Island too. Find out more in Stewart Island Guide for Backpackers.
North and South Island airlines include:
- air2there (Paraparaumu, Nelson, Blenheim, Otaki, Levin)
- Air Chathams (Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Whakatane, Wanganui, Chatham Islands and Pitt Island)
- Golden Bay Air (Wellington, Takaka, Karamea and Nelson)
- Origin Air (Nelson, New Plymouth and Palmerston North)
- Sounds Air (Nelson, Kaikoura, Blenheim, Christchurch, Napier, Paraparaumu, Picton, Taupo, Wellington and Westport)
Domestic Flight Travel Checklist
A quick checklist of things you need to have with you and prepare before taking a domestic flight in New Zealand:
- Make sure your carry-on and checked baggage meet the weight and size allowance*
- Bring your ticket/booking reference
- If you only have carry-on baggage, checking in online means you can go straight to the gate
- Remember your valid ID! This doesn’t necessarily have to be your passport for a domestic flight, but that’s always the safest option
- Arrive at the airport one hour before departure.
*Domestic Flight Baggage Allowance
Air New Zealand
Economy fare passengers have a baggage allowance of a carry-on bag plus one small item, like a handbag or laptop. Carry-on bags must be no more than 7kg (15lb) and have linear dimensions of no more than 118cm (46.5 inches) – that’s the height + width + depth total. For fares that include check-in luggage, the weight must be no more than 23kg (50lb) and have linear dimensions of no more than 158cm (62 inches).
Starter fare passengers have a baggage allowance of one carry-on bag and one small item that have a combined weight of no more than 7kg (15lb) and have dimensions of no more than 56cm (H) x 36cm (W) x 23cm (D) (22″ x 14″ x 9″). For check-in baggage add-ons, you can purchase how much checked in luggage you need, but individual bags can weigh no more than 32kg (70lbs). Check-in baggage must be no longer than 100cm (39 inches).
Scenic Flights in New Zealand
Get a birds-eye-view of New Zealand with a heli-tour or by plane. These flights are perfect for getting to those hard-to-reach places such as Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, New Zealand’s highest mountain Aoraki Mt Cook, White Island in the Bay of Plenty, Milford Sound, and more. The adventurous types opt for New Zealand’s excellent offering of heli-skiing and heli-mountain biking on exciting terrain. Find out more in Ski Season in New Zealand: North Island or South Island? and The Best Mountain Biking Regions in New Zealand.
More about air travel in New Zealand
Were you looking for international flights? Check out: Prepare for a Long Haul Flight. Otherwise, have a look at: