Local tips as direct flights from NY to New Zealand go on sale

“It’s an exciting prospect for my trips home!” More convenient than doing a 24-hour trip from door to door, which typically transited through Los Angeles, San Francisco or Houston, says Noll, who grew up in Montgomery in Orange County.

The new nonstop travel time is 16-18 hours, “faster in the Auckland to NYC direction, thanks to the jet stream.”

Noll, who forecasts Hudson Valley weather via social media and his website on his own time, typically struggles to get a good night’s rest on long-haul flights. He has a few tricks up his sleeve to make the trek easier. “My general rule is to get a couple of solid nights’ sleep leading up to the trip. I’m usually happy if I can tuck in a few hours of shut eye on the flight itself.”

Still, Noll doesn’t think the distance — JFK Airport is 8,814 miles from Auckland — should keep anyone from the adventure. “If you’re in New York and considering a trip to New Zealand, two words: Do it!”

He has been living in the other hemisphere since the mid 2010s, moving for his job. “Being in New Zealand — and seeing its scenery — is like being inside of a movie set.”

Tickets are currently on sale for Air New Zealand’s nonstop flights, which will take place three times a week on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. Noll is already enjoying thinking about the possibility they will afford him as an expat.

“Being 16 hours from a slice of NYC pizza is alluring.”

Places to see in and around Auckland

Be sure to hike to Kitekite Falls while visiting Auckland’s west coast, a 45-minute drive from the city.

Ben Noll

What should New Yorkers traveling to New Zealand be sure to see and do? While chances are good that travelers will extend their explorations beyond Auckland, Noll recommends pausing a beat to explore his adopted home town.

“Auckland is well worth spending a day or two in at the beginning or end of your travels: great coffee, a cultural melting pot that influences its cuisine, an extremely comfortable climate almost any time of the year, and its mix of leisure and adventure activities being located on the water.”

His suggestions:

  • Take in all the views of the city and beyond at the top of the 1,000-foot Sky Tower in the center city.
  • Auckland’s west coast — only 45 minutes away — is home to volcanic black sand beaches, arguably some of the most picturesque in the world (Taylor Swift filmed part of her music video at Te Henga / Bethells Beach† While in Auckland’s west, hike to Kitekite Fallssee the gannet colony at muriwai, or explore New Zealand native bush on a hike to one of Auckland’s hydro dams.
  • A favorite beach is in Araicabout one hour north of Auckland, on the eastern shore.
  • Waiheke Island: Get a taste of New Zealand’s uber-relaxed offshore island life and take a 45-minute ferry ride to paradise, full of wineries, cafes, and beaches.
  • Stroll along Harbor Viaduct and Wynyard Quarter: Dine with a view and soak up New Zealand’s nightlife in this mile-long stretch of eateries and bars.
  • Foods to try: New Zealand grass-fed beef is next level. If that’s your thing, head to Better Burger† Ramen is very much a thing in Auckland; try Ramen Takara for some of the best. And Auckland’s brunch culture is undeniable: rude boy is one of his favorites — save room for dessert.

You may not be able to find New York-style pizza in New Zealand, but the country's grass-fed beef is bar none, says Ben Noll, who recommends Better Burger.

You may not be able to find New York-style pizza in New Zealand, but the country’s grass-fed beef is bar none, says Ben Noll, who recommends Better Burger.

Ben Noll

Where to go outside of Auckland

North Island

  • Rotorua and Taupo for thermal wonders and natural hot pools
  • Taranaki where an 8,000-foot cone volcano dominates the view, if you’re all about hikes
  • mt. Tongariro in winter (June-August), is where you can frolic in the snow and ski
  • wellington is the capital of New Zealand and the windiest major city in the world!

South Island

New Zealand's most jaw-dropping scenery can be found in the South Island's Fiordland, including Milford Sound.

New Zealand’s most jaw-dropping scenery can be found in the South Island’s Fiordland, including Milford Sound.

Ben Noll

  • Marlborough Sounds is an extensive network of sea-drowned valleys just waiting to be explored
  • the Tasman Region is home to one of the longest natural sand striker in the world and — fun fact — the beach featured on the Windows 10 background photo
  • Aoraki/Mt Cook is the country’s tallest mountain and arguably its most picturesque road
  • Queenstown is a major tourist destination for skiing, Lord of the Rings-type scenery, eating, drinking, and socializing
  • Fiordland is the destination that defines New Zealand — jaw-dropping scenery from lakes to crystal clear glacial rivers, to glaciers themselves, to getting up close and personal with New Zealand’s birdlife (such as the Kea, an alpine parrot with the intelligence of a 4- year old human). Take the most picturesque boat ride of your life in Milford Sound as waterfalls descend some 500 feet to sea level and dolphins dance around you.

Parting words of New Zealand travel advice

Don’t expect to find NY-style pizza or subs up to the standard we’re all used to.

Don’t expect your bill to be cheap: New Zealand is an island nation on the bottom of the planet; import costs are large and expect to pay while you’re here. (That being said, the exchange rate is favorable.)

Don’t assume the season is the same as New York. New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere, so the seasons are opposite.

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