Everything You Need to Know About Planning a Holiday in Hawaii from New Zealand
Jutting out of the deep blue Pacific Ocean, the islands of Hawaii offer an exciting, relaxing and simply breathtaking destination that’s within easy reach of New Zealand. Whether you’re a Kiwi craving a tropical adventure away from the typical “Rarotonga” or “Fiji” cycle or a traveller on a round-the-world expedition looking for a stunning destination to hit as you cross the Pacific, Hawaii is an alluring possibility. What’s more alluring, however, is that it couldn’t be easier to plan your trip to Hawaii from New Zealand. We go through all of the details, from booking your flights to packing the essentials and all of the best accommodations and activities in between, in this complete guide to travelling to Hawaii from New Zealand.
Checklist for Travelling from New Zealand to Hawaii
Other than your flight ticket and packing list, which we go through later in this guide, these are just a few extra essentials to keep in mind when planning a trip to Hawaii from New Zealand:
- Visa: New Zealand passport holders do not need a visa for Hawaii. However, it is required to complete an online ESTA (Electronic Travel Authorisation). Other countries on the US (therefore Hawaii) visa-waiver program are listed on the US Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
- Currency: The currency of Hawaii is US Dollars. Check out the best currency exchange bureaus in New Zealand to get US Dollars before departure and check out travel cards with Wise for an easy payment method once you arrive.
- COVID formalities: See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the latest updates and travel requirements.
And, of course, the most important part of your checklist is booking your flights from New Zealand to Hawaii. More on that in the section below…
How to Get to Hawaii from New Zealand
With direct flights from Auckland Airport to Honolulu Airport, getting to Hawaii from New Zealand couldn’t be easier.
Can You Fly Direct from New Zealand to Hawaii?
Luckily for Kiwis (and travellers in New Zealand during their round-the-world trip), you can fly direct from New Zealand to Hawaii! Hawaiian Airlines operates flights between Auckland Airport (AKL) and Honolulu Airport (HNL) three times a week with most flights connecting across the Hawaiian Islands, including Kona (KOA) and Hilo (ITO) on Hawaii Island, Lihue, Kauai (LIH) and Kahului on Maui (OGG).
They also have connecting flights from Honolulu to 16 continental US destinations, should you want to continue your trip around the world, including to Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), New York City (JFK), Orlando (MCO), Austin (AUS) and more.
How Long Does it Take to Get to Hawaii from NZ?
It takes nine hours to get to Hawaii from New Zealand with Hawaiian Airlines, but your holiday begins as soon as you step on the plane with the sights, sounds and flavours of Hawaii all being a part of the inflight experience. Not to mention, a Hawaiian-inspired lunch and snack are included on the flight between Auckland and Honolulu.
When to Visit Hawaii from New Zealand
There’s never a bad time to visit Hawaii thanks to its tropical climate and consistent temperature of around 24-29°C (75-85°F) year-round. The summer season is between April and November, which is the warmest and driest time of the year, ideal if you’re wanting to escape the New Zealand winter. Winter, on the other hand, is between December and March and has slightly cooler temperatures.
If you’re wanting to experience whale watching in Hawaii, the whale season is between January and early April. If seeking the best surf, head to Hawaii between November and February.
Which Island to Visit in Hawaii
Hawaii is made up of eight main islands, six of which are open to visitors via the local airline, Hawaiian Airlines. Check out flight routes and where you can fly on the Hawaiian Airlines website.
Oahu is the most populated island and your arrival island in Hawaii, making it an effortless destination for first-time visitors. The island offers an idyllic balance of cosmopolitan culture and natural wonders. It’s home to Hawaii’s capital, Honolulu, awash in delectable eateries, as well as Waikiki, Hawaii’s most popular beach and surf capital.
If you’re wanting to escape to nature, Maui is your place. From the volcanic slopes of Haleakala National Park to some 80 beaches ideal for watching humpback whales during the season, Maui truly is a nature-lover’s paradise. The exclusive location also makes Maui a top destination for discerning travellers with its array of luxury resorts.
Hawaii Island (The Big Island)
Hawaii’s largest island, Hawaii Island, continues to grow thanks to its persistent lava flow into the sea. Needless to say, Hawaii Island’s volcanic activity is the main reason visitors are in awe of this island, but deep-sea fishing and teeing off at some of the world’s most beautiful golf courses are more reasons to add Hawaii Island to the itinerary.
Get away from it all and relish in the tropical and natural splendour of Kauai. Much of the island is inaccessible, making for a helicopter flight extra dramatic, while ziplining and hiking are more ways to enjoy the lush rainforests and volcanic terrain.
One of the more exclusive islands to visit in Hawaii, Lanai is home to two luxury hotels and a slower pace of life. It’s a place to unwind with the natural charms of the landscape and the luxury indulgences of the hotels, including one of the finest restaurants in the state.
If there was ever a place to get that “small-town” vibe in the islands, it would be on Molokai. Meander its boutiques and small businesses of the harbour town, Kaunakakai, and join some of the friendly locals for a horse trek in the Kalaupapa National Park. A not quite so humble feature of the island is the world’s highest sea cliffs at 1,190m (3,900ft)!
Hawaiian Airlines has a very useful “Island Guide“, so check it out to learn more about each of the islands.
Where to Stay in Hawaii
A range of accommodation experiences can be found across Hawaii, from the surf hostels of Oahu’s Waikiki to the lavish five-star resorts of Maui, Hawaii Island and beyond. Below, we have compiled a quick list of our favourites across three categories on each of Hawaii’s islands.
Where to Stay on Oahu
1. Polynesian Hostel Beach Club – Conveniently located Waikiki hostel
2. The Beach Waikiki Hostel – Trendy hostel hosting island excursions
3. Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki – Affordable hotel with a pool
1. The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club – Free parking hotel with a pool
2. Luana Waikiki Hotel & Suites – Studios and suites with kitchen facilities
3. Shoreline Hotel Waikiki – Design-driven hotel with a restaurant and pool
1. Turtle Bay Resort – Oceanfront resort with horse stables, wellness and more
2. ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach – Highrise luxury in the urban jungle
3. Aston Waikiki Beach Tower – Apartment resort overlooking Waikiki Beach.
Where to Stay on Maui
1. Tiki Beach Hostel – Homely hostel five minutes from central Lahaina
2. The Northshore Hostel Maui – Daily activities and free tours included
3. God’s Peace of Maui – Lodge rooms and cottage in an upcountry area
1. Aston Kaanapali Shores – Family-friendly resort with epic pool
2. Napili Sunset Beach Front Resort – Apartments by the beach
3. Maui Beach Hotel – Minutes from the airport, footsteps from the beach
1. Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott – Fine dining, ocean views and waterslide
2. Hotel Wailea Relais & Châteaux – Adults-only oasis on the oceanfront
3. Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea – Premium oceanfront resort and more.
Where to Stay on Hawaii Island
1. Hamakua House and Camping Cabanas – Rustic guesthouse with cabanas
2. The Big Island Hostel – Vibrant hostel near downtown Hilo
3. Pahoa Village Hostel – Colourful cosy hostel in downtown Pahoa
1. Aloha Junction Bed & Breakfast – Homely B&B at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
2. Sea Mountain – Apartments with a championship golf course
3. SCP Hilo Hotel – Eastern side hotel with an emphasis on holistic wellness
1. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai – Five-star beachfront retreat
2. Fairmont Orchid – Resort and spa on the Kohala Coast
3. Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection – Rooms with private pools.
Where to Stay on Kauai
1. Tip Top Motel, Cafe & Bakery – Basic rooms; fabulous cafe
1. Kauai Shores Hotel – Rooms surrounding a courtyard pool
2. Banyan Harbor Resort – Charming eco-resort with saltwater pool
3. Hotel Coral Reef – Old-world charm by the beach.
1. Royal Sonesta Kaua’i Resort Lihue – Upscale resort with a striking layout
2. Koloa Landing Resort at Po’ipu, Autograph Collection – Ranked US’s best pool
3. Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa – Luxury garden spa oasis.
Where to Stay on Lanai
1. Four Seasons Resort Lana’i – Secluded five-star retreat.
Where to Stay on Molokai
1. Hotel Molokai – Quirky bungalows and pool.
2. Castle Molokai Shores – Three-star oceanfront apartments with a pool.
20 Best Things to Do in Hawaii
Hawaii has a lot more to it than fabulous resorts. So, what are the best things to do in Hawaii? With so many experiences on each of its most-visited islands, Hawaii spoils travellers for choice. We’ll give you an idea of the sort of adventures you could be having in Hawaii in the list of the 20 best things to do in Hawai.
- Learn to surf in Waikiki, Oahu
- Take a tour of Pearl Harbor in Honolulu (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Drive or hike through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Do some USA-style shopping in the urban jungles of Oahu
- Hike the Kalalau Trail on the island of Kauai
- Enjoy a cultural show in Kapolei, Oahu (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Snorkel or scuba dive with manta rays from Hawaii Island
- Snorkel or dive inside the Molokini Crater on Maui
- Kayak to Chinaman’s Hat off east Oahu
- Take a boat tour past the Nā Pali Cliffs of Kauai
- Get sensational views from the Waimea Canyon Lookout on Kauai
- Take a helicopter tour over Maui or Kauai
- Go whale watching from Maui (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Hike the Diamond Head of Oahu
- Take a guided hike to Manoa Falls on Oahu (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Catch the sunset from Maui’s Haleakala Crater
- Visit the Kalaupapa National Historic Site on Molokai
- On Ohau, snorkel at the Hanauma Bay nature reserve
- Skydive over North Shore from Oahu
- See the largest surviving ruins of a prehistoric Hawaiian village at Kaunolu Fishing Village, Lanai.
But remember, you can also spend your time doing as little as you like…
Hawaii Packing List
Ready to pack your bags? You’ll hardly need to pack “light” thanks to Hawaiian Airlines including two 32kg (70lbs) checked bags at no extra cost! This is what you’ll need:
Light Comfortable Clothing
Due to the tropical climate, you’ll need light comfortable clothing for exploring, as well as relaxing at your resort. Think light tops, shorts, skirts, a couple of smarter outfits for dinner, and, of course, swimwear. Don’t forget versatile and comfortable underwear too. Ladies, if you don’t take a Sol Vae sports bra/swimwear to Hawaii, then you’ll certainly come back with a pair of this Hawaiian-favourite apparel…
For the evenings and boat trips when things get a little cooler, you’ll want an extra layer, such as a pashmina or light jacket.
As for footwear, a versatile sneaker/trainer for island hikes or full days on your feet is a good idea, while your jandals for the beach and a pair of smarter sandals are also worth taking.
Water and Sun Protection
Of course, there are a few daytime essentials that you’ll want to take when spending time outdoors, including sunglasses, reef-safe sunscreen, a reusable water bottle, insect repellent and a sunhat. You might also want to take a rash shirt, not only for surfing but to protect yourself from the sun when snorkelling.
Toiletries and Medication
Of course, everyone’s self-care routine is different, so take the essentials you use every day, whether it be a toothbrush, toothpaste, makeup, prescription medication, etc. Remember that most hotels in Hawaii provide toiletries like soap and shampoo. We also recommend that you have a mini first aid kit available also, stocked with pain killers, bandaids, antiseptic cream, etc. Check out our first aid kit recommendations that also apply to Hawaii in our Health Tips For Travelling in New Zealand.
Miscellaneous Things to Pack
And for all those other things to pack that are still quite essential (yet don’t fit into a category), remember that you’ll need all the appropriate travel documents including your passport, driver’s license and booking confirmations and itineraries at least available to view on your phone. Speaking of your phone, make sure you have all of the appropriate chargers for your electronics, as well as any extra electronics you might want to take, such as a camera or an e-reader. The currency of Hawaii is US dollars, so have at least some emergency cash in the local currency available.
Your “Travel Pono” Mentality: How to Travel More Sustainably in Hawaii
Like New Zealand’s “Tiaki Promise”, Hawaiians ask that visitors “Travel Pono” meaning to explore with care and offer your “kokua” (help) to preserve Hawaii’s natural resources, cultures and communities. There are some great tips on how to travel more sustainably and responsibly listed on the Hawaiian Airlines website.
More About Planning a Trip from New Zealand
That’s it for our complete guide on how to plan a trip to Hawaii from New Zealand! For more inspiration on where to go from New Zealand, check out the following guides:
- 7 Tropical Islands Near New Zealand
- Planning a Trip from New Zealand to Australia
- South Pacific Islands – Guide For Backpackers
Finally, for all of our content for places to travel to once you’ve experienced New Zealand, head to our South Pacific Islands Destinations page.