Everything You Need to Know About Domestic Flights in New Zealand
Domestic flights are usually a cheap, quick and a convenient way to travel to New Zealand’s larger airports. Despite New Zealand being a relatively small couple of islands, they have embraced air travel with around 25 destinations across the country. There are two main domestic airlines in New Zealand which we will talk more about in the domestic flights in New Zealand guide below complimented by a couple of smaller airlines focussed on select regional services.
Quick travel isn’t the only reason people take to the skies during a holiday trip in New Zealand. Flights are also a great way to take in the diverse landscapes. This can be done by plane, seaplane, or by a much-loved New Zealand mode of transport the helicopter. We’ll talk more about that below too.
For other ways of getting around New Zealand, check out our Transportation section.
New Zealand’s Largest Airports
With frequent domestic flights each day, these airports are the cheapest options to travel between:
- Auckland (AKL)
- Wellington (WLG)
- Christchurch (CHC)
- Queenstown (ZQN)
- Hamilton (HLZ)
- Nelson (NSN)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Domestic Travel in New Zealand
What is the typical baggage allowance for domestic flights in New Zealand?
Baggage allowances vary by airline, but typically, you can expect a carry-on allowance of one piece of 5 to 7kg plus a personal item on most flights. Checked baggage usually incurs an additional fee. It’s always best to check with your specific airline for their most current baggage policies.
How early should I arrive at the airport for domestic flights?
For domestic flights, it’s advisable to arrive at the airport at least one hour before your scheduled departure. If you need to check baggage or are travelling during peak times, consider giving yourself a bit more time.
Can I check in online for my domestic flight in New Zealand?
Yes, most airlines in New Zealand offer online check-in, which typically opens 24 hours before the flight and closes one to two hours before departure. This is a great time-saver and is highly recommended.
Are there any restrictions on flying with pets domestically in New Zealand?
Pets can usually travel on domestic flights, either in the cabin or in the cargo hold, depending on their size and the airline’s policy. Advance arrangements are necessary, and a fee will apply. Check with your airline for specific pet travel requirements and costs.
What forms of identification do I need for domestic travel in New Zealand?
A valid photo ID is required for domestic travel in New Zealand. This can be a driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued ID. For children and infants, parents or guardians should carry proof of age. More info on this below.
What should I do if my flight is cancelled or delayed?
If your flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, your airline will typically rebook you on the next available flight. If you booked through a travel agent or third-party website, it’s a good idea to contact them as well. Stay updated via the airline’s mobile app or website. Full monetary refunds for cancelled or delayed flights are rare.
Can I bring liquids in my carry-on on domestic flights?
Yes, there are generally no restrictions on liquids in carry-on baggage for domestic flights within New Zealand. However, it’s always prudent to check the latest guidelines from your airline.
Are there any special considerations for traveling with children on domestic flights?
When traveling with children, it’s important to carry necessary items like snacks, entertainment, and comfort items. Most airlines are accommodating and can assist with family seating. Inform the airline in advance if you need any assistance.
Is Wi-Fi available on domestic flights in New Zealand?
Wi-Fi availability varies by airline and type of aircraft. Some domestic flights may offer Wi-Fi for a fee. Check with your airline for availability and costs.
How do I find the best deals on domestic flights in New Zealand?
To find the best deals, book in advance, be flexible with your travel dates, and check airline websites for special offers and promotions. Signing up for airline newsletters and fare alerts can also keep you informed about the latest deals. We have many more tips to score a cheap deal on domestic flights in NZ below.
Note: These FAQs are designed to help make your domestic travel experience in New Zealand as smooth and enjoyable as possible. For more detailed information, always refer to your specific airline’s guidelines.
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 one side 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 other airports 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 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
- Sunair (Gisborne – Great Barrier Island – Tauranga – Whangarei – Whitianga – Ardmore – Napier – Wairoa)
- Barrier Air (Auckland – Great Barrier Island)
- Fly My Sky [Now CLOSED] (Auckland – Great Barrier Island)
Sunair and Barrier Air 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
- 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
- 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).
- air2there [Now CLOSED] (Paraparaumu, Nelson, Blenheim, Otaki, Levin)
Domestic Flight Travel Checklist
Taking a domestic flight in New Zealand?! Here’s 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.
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.
Travel Tips and Hacks for Domestic Flights in New Zealand
Embarking on a journey across the stunning landscapes of New Zealand by air? Here’s a handy guide to make your domestic flying experience in the Land of the Long White Cloud as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
1. Timing is Everything: Snagging the Best Airfares
- Early Bird Gets the Deal: Generally, booking your flights at least two months in advance can lead to significant savings. Keep an eye out for airline sales, which often occur during off-peak travel seasons.
- Flexible Dates, Flexible Prices: If your travel dates are flexible, try flying on weekdays, especially mid-week, as fares tend to be lower compared to weekends.
2. Navigating Airports Like a Pro
- Check-in Online: Avoid the queues by checking in online. Most airlines in New Zealand open online check-in 24 hours before the flight. This not only saves time but also lets you choose your preferred seat in advance.
- Travel Light: With strict baggage policies, packing light can save you time and money. Plus, with carry-on only, you can bypass baggage claim and be on your way in no time.
- Airport Layout Familiarity: Each airport (even the smallest one) has its unique layout. A quick look at the airport’s website beforehand can give you a heads-up on where to find essential services like car rentals, public transport access, and dining options.
3. Smooth Sailing with Children and Special Needs
- Pre-Flight Preparation: Inform the airline in advance if you’re traveling with young children or if you have any special needs. Airlines in New Zealand are accommodating and can assist with priority boarding and special seating arrangements.
- Entertainment and Comfort: Pack snacks, games, or tablets to keep the little ones entertained as smaller planes tend to not have in-flight entertainment. For longer flights, consider bringing comfort items like neck pillows and blankets.
- Airport Facilities: Many airports in New Zealand have family-friendly facilities. Look out for play areas, nursing rooms, and dedicated lanes at security checks for families.
4. Staying Connected
- Mobile Apps and Alerts: Use airline apps for real-time updates on your flight status, gate changes, or any travel advisories. Staying connected helps you stay one step ahead.
5. Lounge Access for Extra Comfort
- Lounge Access: For a more relaxed pre-flight experience, consider lounge access in the largest airports. Some credit cards offer complimentary lounge access, or you might find day passes at reasonable prices. In small airport, lounge access are either not a good investment or not available at all.
6. Be Weather-Wise
- Dress in Layers: New Zealand’s weather can be quite unpredictable. Dressing in layers ensures you’re comfortable both on and off the plane.
7. Sustainable Travel
- Offset Your Carbon Footprint: Consider airlines that offer carbon offset programs as a way to make your travel more sustainable.
Remember, every journey is an opportunity for a new adventure. With these tips, your domestic flight experience in New Zealand will not just be a transit, but a pleasant start to your exploration of this beautiful country. Happy travels!
More About Air Travel in New Zealand
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