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Domestic Flights in New Zealand


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.

Quick travel isn’t the only reason people take to the skies during a backpacking adventure 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 – 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 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 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

Book your ticket through private browsing and 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:
  • Sunair
  • 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, inlcuding 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, Catham 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 meets the weight and size allowance.
  • Bring you 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 bird’s-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:

New Zealand's Biggest Gap Year on YouTube
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