Around New Zealand by Turboprop

The following is another guest post from my dad – a fellow travel and points aficionado! Dad and my mom recently got back from a trip to New Zealand, and have some great tips to share about getting there with Air New Zealand!

Air New Zealand is one of my favorite air lines and a recent trip gave me a chance to fly some domestic routes across both the North and South Islands. For reasons I’ll get to in a moment, Air New Zealand internal flights have some very unique (in a good way) aspects including use of turbo-prop Bombardier Q300 and ATR72 aircraft with 50 and 68 seats respectively. I especially enjoyed a three-leg flight from Napier/Hawkes Bay (on the North Island) via Wellington, then hopping to the South Island via Christchurch to Queenstown: each leg was around one hour in flight and a one hour layover in between, with great views on a sunny day and punctuality throughout.

So what’s so great about Air New Zealand domestic flights?

  1. “Light touch” security: I’m not sure how else to describe this. Departing Napier, there is no screening at all between check-in and boarding the aircraft! No removal of shoes or laptops, no searches, no X ray machines, just the watchful eye of AirNZ ground staff.
  2. Friendly staff: Everyone who works for the airline on the ground and in the air seem to love their job, and really look after their passengers. For example, between Christchurch and Queenstown, our steward was pointing out interesting geographical features for us to watch for.
  3. Memorable safety videos. My favorite is still the Lord of the Rings-themed video, but this time some NZ celebrities featured in another funny movie filmed around the Bay of Islands. They definitely take pride in their country and showcase some beautiful locations.
  4. Lollies! It’s an Air New Zealand tradition to offer passengers a boiled sweet from a basket before landing. Kids on the flight are invited to help the cabin crew to do this job, which is very cute. You won’t get a lot of in-flight food or drink, but cookies and coffee are good quality.
  5. Turboprop aircraft: The 2 plus 2 seating arrangement works really well (no middle seats) and there seems to be plenty of room for smaller carry-on items at least. Baggage claim never takes long because the planes and airports are small and efficient. However, seats located under the wing have limited view from the windows due to the location of the engines, but it’s cool to watch the undercarriage retracting.
  6. Pricing: You can get a lot of flight for your money if you combine internal flights with a long-haul ticket, say from Los Angeles or San Francisco.
  7. One Class of Travel: On these aircraft, everything is Economy, so there’s no need to stress over upgrades, premium seats, etc. Seat pitch is fine, so relax and enjoy the flight.

Air New Zealand are definitely one of the friendliest airlines out there and domestic flights really showcase this; I can’t wait to jump on an ATR-72 again soon.