One thing is undeniable. NZ is a long long way from anywhere! It’s closest neighbours are 3 to 4 hours flight away (that would be Australia and Fiji). Australia is also a long way from anywhere as is Fiji. Auckland is as far from Malaga (Spain) as any place on earth – they are antipodes! You getting the picture now?
So with that in mind any trip to New Zealand is going to be expensive. That’s on top of the fact that New Zealand is an expensive destination these days. It’s a double whammy but it has not stopped visitors coming as year on year more tourists are heading Downunder.
It is possible to get to New Zealand for less money if you are creative
What is the absolute cheapest way of getting to New Zealand from Asia, America or Australia?
New Zealand is a hub for sailing and shipping. If you have experience of working on a boat then you could possibly have a free passage to NZ from Asia, Australia or even the Americas.
You need to find out the sailing seasons. Sailing to NZ in the southern summer would probably represent the best chance of securing a passage.
Popular sailing centers in Asia include Penang in Malaysia and Phuket in Thailand.
There are of course many cargo ships that come to New Zealand but getting a passage with them would take a lot of research and time. They might not even represent a cheap way either!
Remember to always have travel insurance for visiting New Zealand before you enter the country.
So sailing is not for me. What are some other options for getting to NZ on the cheap?
Well of course the next and only choice (there are no road bridges to NZ!) and that’s flying!
Now the good news is that many airlines now fly to NZ including full service airlines e.g. Air New Zealand, Qantas, Emirates, Qatar as well as budget airline e.g. Air Asia, Jetstar.
Having flown many times to NZ from Asia and America I have a pretty good idea of the cheapest methods.
Flying to NZ on the cheap from the Americas
Let’s start from the south and work our way up the Americas.
There are direct flights from South America. You can currently fly from Chile and Argentina direct. The flights can be expensive and there are rarely airline sales so the best advice is to book in advance.
It’s probably not worth the hassle of flying via North America.
From anywhere north of Chile to the Mexican/ USA border your best will be to fly via one of the USA hubs. As of Nov 2018 there are no direct flights from anywhere in Central America to NZ or Australia.
There are some budget airlines that fly from South and Central America to the USA so you might want to look at those rather than having a complete through ticket.
Unfortunately you have to clear US customs and immigration if you fly to the States. There is no transit. This is a big pain in the butt but it’s unavoidable unless you fly from Chile or Argentina.
From the USA there are no budget airlines as such to NZ but there are plenty of decent prices with the main airlines. United seems to come out as one of the cheaper ones.
Getting to NZ from Europe on the cheap!
You will almost certainly have to go via Asia if you are targeting the cheaper airlines. There are often deals to be had with the main airlines that fly from Europe to NZ e.g. Air NZ, Qantas and Emirates. Also some of the Chinese airlines are a good option too and often come out as the cheapest.
Getting to New Zealand cheaply from Asia and Australia
Once you are in Asia your options are way more and you can start to take advantage of the many budget airlines that fly around the continent.
There is one budget airline that flies directly from Asia to NZ. Air Asia flies to direct from KL in Malaysia to Auckland. The flight does stop on the Australian Gold Coast for around one hour where you have to disembark.
You should be aware that these flights can look very cheap. Some one way flights come out as little as USD $200 but with all cheap airlines there are extra fees. You are looking at an additional $60 for the smallest baggage allowance. You are then charged extra for any drinks or food (including water!) on board. There is also a fee for booking with a card, which everyone does!
If you fly with Qantas, Air NZ or one of the main airlines then all these fees usually are not there. With Qantas you can even pick a seat for free.
There are other options to Air Asia. If you fly out of Singapore then you could pick up a cheap Scoot flight to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane and then fly onwards from there.