Flying to New Zealand is daunting. For many of you reading this, your total transit time will be over 24 hours.

The following are seven tips for keeping in mind before flying to NZ, including a few to consider before booking your flight.

flying to new zealand

Some of these tips apply everywhere like knowing your rights if you get bumped off the flight or for flights delayed. But there are several that are unique to NZ such as what food you can bring into the country.

Let’s get straight into it.

1. Learn What You Can & Cannot Bring Into The Country

this fruit wouldn't be allowed into new zealand

Fruit is a no no. It’ll all be taken from you when you arrive.

This one is something that people travelling to New Zealand often comment on after arriving. New Zealand has very strict biosecurity rules. This is because New Zealand doesn’t want you to bring in any unwanted pests or diseases that could cause devastation for our nature and wildlife.

The best place to look at what you can/cannot is to look on the MPI website.

The key sections to look at are those related to: food, dirt, and what to/not to declare.

When you’re looking at what to/not to declare, don’t just tick no like you might be used to in other destinations. Read them carefully and if you’re unsure, declare it. It’s likely to be fine, but at least you’re not risking harm to the country and it’s people.

2. Research Any Visa(s) You Need

Remember, it’s best practice to get your visa arranged before booking any flights.

New Zealand is pretty relaxed in regards to the visa process with citizens from over 60 countries allowed (for tourism purposes) to arrive in the country without applying for a tourist visa in advance.

But, if you need one, don’t procrastinate!

And for all of you, make sure you’ve got 6+ empty passport pages left as well as having at least six months left before your passport expires.

Are you planning to stop over on the way somewhere? I think that’s a great idea. Spending 24-48 hours in Australia before boarding the final flight is a common thing. You might well think New Zealand and Australia are the same in terms of visas. And for the most part you’re right, but make sure to check the tourist visa details for Australia in case you need to apply for one, even if it’s a stopover (I’m looking at you USA citizens) .

It’s a long (expensive) flight purchased for nothing if you get things wrong and/or didn’t even apply for a visa!

3. Know Your Rights For Flight Disruptions

Personally I marvel at the ability for hundreds of tin cans airplanes being able to fly through the air at the same time. You probably have the same appreciation, until you get bumped off your flights or suffer a delay which means you miss your connections.

Flight delays can be a pain, but let’s be honest, there are worst things that can happen. Getting booted off your flight through no fault of your own? Rage!

It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to either situation though. There’s a tonne of legalities regarding what airlines are expected to offer you if you get bumped from your flight involuntarily (it’s okay, I can’t imagine many people read the small text when booking flights).

Depending on the situation, there’s a reasonable chance you should be receiving compensation if you are not allowed to board the flight, providing you aren’t at fault.

You are even supposed to get the cash there (which varies based on location and distance) and then at your gate! But airlines being airlines, they aren’t going to make things easy for you so make sure to document everything. Why do they overbook flights? The airlines expect a certain number of people not to show up for their flights based on algorithms and data they’re constantly collecting. But, there are times when everyone will show up, at which point you are at risk of being bumped.

The crucial aspect is that you cannot volunteer to be bumped. Airlines will usually ask if people would like the option of being bumped voluntarily, and only then if not enough volunteers come forward will they deny people from boarding. You must not be at fault for being denied board either. If you show up to the gate on time or are intoxicated, the airlines can deny you from boarding without compensation.

Given that you’ll likely be catching multiple flights to get to New Zealand, any issues with your flights may stuff up your connecting flights. Therefore, check out to further understand your rights, without going through pages of complicated small print. They can even help you get your compensation back if you don’t get it at the gate.

For the budget travellers out there, the potential compensation is worth a couple of weeks of living expenses!

4. Book Your Flight For The Right Day!

If you’re hoping over the dateline, then you might well be missing out on a whole day when flying to New Zealand.

Here’s an example below. If you fly out of Vancouver on the 31st at 5 pm (PCT), you land at 5 am (NZT) on June 2nd missing out June 1st entirely.

showing the change in time zones for flights leaving vancouver to auckland

So take a note of the specifics when booking your flight. You’d be kicking yourself if you booked a hotel for June 1st with the above flight itinerary!

example of flight times from auckland to buenos aires

The same goes for when booking your flight back home. You might be able to stay a day longer than you thought. The screenshot above for this flight from Auckland to Buenos Aires gives you the idea.

5. Consider Where To Flyout From

rapaki walk christchurch

Maybe you’ll land in Auckland, then spend your last day on the Christchurch foothills (above) before flying out?

The easiest way to book a flight is to fly in and out of the same destinations. But given New Zealand’s shape, that isn’t always the best option as you’ll be doubling back on yourself at times. And if you’re on a road trip, the biggest benefit is having some flexibility in your plans.

If you do decide to fly in and out of Auckland, you can book a domestic flight to Auckland if need be. But consider your itinerary and there might be better destinations for you to begin the trek back home. There are five international airports in New Zealand:

  • Auckland (AKL)
  • Wellington (WLG)
  • Christchurch (CHC)
  • Dunedin (DUD)
  • Queenstown (ZQN)

6. Try To Minimise Jetlag With Your Flight Times

Are you a sucker for jetlag? Then NZ could well be some of the worst you’ve suffered given the time difference to many places, particularly for those of you in Europe. Fortunately, my sleep schedule is a mess day to day so I manage to avoid jetlag in most cases. Sleep when tired, wake up whenever…that kind of person.

But, I understand it’s a real thing!

Therefore, consider what time your flight departure and arrival times. If you struggle to sleep during flights, day time flights are best. Otherwise, you can be sneaky and fly the red eye and hope you don’t jinx yourself and not get any sleep.

There doesn’t ever seem to be a consensus as to the best way to prevent and/or cure jetlag, but a few of the common theories include:

Eliminating caffeine and alcohol. This one is tough, especially if the drinks are free and/or you’re a nervous flyer. Both of these are going to dehydrate you, and if you have a few too many drinks, the hangover is only going to make your jetlag even worse! Resist the urge to grab caffeine when your tired mid-transit. When you finally land and do want to sleep…good luck trying too!

Change the time on your watch/phone before you fly. We usually let the technology do this automatically when we land in a new destination, but it is possible to change it manually. Being aware of the time in New Zealand during the flight (and in the day or two before the flight) can help you navigate your sleep schedule.

Find the light! Vitamin D not only helps your sleep, but it ensures you give your body the best chance to stay within the reams of its natural circadian rhythm. In short, get some sun whenever you can leading up to your flight and on any stopovers.

There’s no harm in trying a technique or two to help you when you land.

7. Get To Know The Baggage Rules

There will be a lot of you who are taking multiple flights to get to New Zealand. In a perfect world, you’ll be on the same airline and the baggage will be checked through to your final destination. However, you may find if you’re on different airlines, the weight limits for carry-on and checked luggage differs.

This is easy to navigate. If you want to avoid paying crazy excess baggage fees, pack as if you were flying with the airline with the strictest baggage allowances all the way.

And don’t be that pain in the arse who brings a shitload of luggage to store in the overhead storage.

There you go. Seven tips to consider before booking your flight to New Zealand. While you might get a good story about booking your flight for the wrong day, it’s not a story you want to tell.