Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Kellie Jez
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New Zealand is known for its secluded geography, gorgeous scenery, and rich indigenous Polynesian culture — and this blend of culture and nature has it on many travelers’ radars.
As the film location of the “Lord of the Rings,” New Zealand is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Because of its picturesque landscape and amazing serenity, it should also be on your bucket list! But getting there isn’t the easiest endeavor in the world — it’s anywhere from 6,000 to 9,000 miles away from the U.S.!
There are several routes you can fly to get to New Zealand, with most of the nonstop routes operated by New Zealand’s flag carrier, Air New Zealand. Fortunately, it has a reputation as a great airline. As innovators in their own right, Air New Zealand features an interesting Skycouch product, as well as a solid business class. Some of your other nonstop options include United Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines (launching October 2023).
In this guide, we will discuss in detail the best ways to fly to New Zealand with points and miles. We’ll talk about your nonstop flight options, in addition to a few connecting routes from Hong Kong, Fiji, and Dubai. We’ll begin with some of the best sweet spots and work our way down to some alternative booking methods, depending on what type of points you have.
Get ready to learn about the best programs to use for booking flights to New Zealand!
Getting to New Zealand isn’t an easy feat: there aren’t a ton of nonstop flights from the mainland U.S. and you’ll have to shell out a lot of cash to purchase just a basic ticket. New Zealand can be pricey to visit — with economy fares averaging ~$1,700 per person — meaning your points and miles will go even further when booking a trip there.
Since Air New Zealand is part of the Star Alliance, you might infer that most route flexibility will be through Star Alliance partners such as United Airlines.
Here are the airports that offer nonstop Air New Zealand flights to New Zealand from North America:
United Airlines offers a single route to New Zealand with Polaris business class:
Hawaiian Airlines offers a single route to New Zealand on the A330. We don’t recommend flying this route unless you are originating from Hawaii:
There is 1 American Airlines route, and it features the 787 Dreamliner:
Delta Air Lines will launch nonstop service from the U.S. to New Zealand on October 28, 2023. The flight will be operated by an A350:
The above routes are your only nonstop options. However, there are plenty more connecting options you can take.
As we jump into each redemption, note that nonstop routes in business class, especially aboard Air New Zealand are extremely difficult to find. Often, looking through United Airlines’ entire calendar (approximately 1 year long) will only yield 1 or 2 dates at most!
What this means is that you need to be as flexible as possible. Your options will be more plentiful if you are fine with taking connecting flights.
As usual, All Nippon Airways continues to impress with its amazing round-trip fares. With some of the most competitive round-trip business class award prices in the world, it’s no wonder ANA is at the top of our list in this guide.
Also a frequent flyer program belonging to a Star Alliance airline, ANA Mileage Club will allow you to fly to New Zealand nonstop on United or Air New Zealand. Best of all, ANA does not pass on fuel surcharges to United!
Check out the chart below to get an idea of what it would cost you to fly round-trip nonstop to New Zealand from the U.S.:
|Cabin Class||Award Cost (Partners)||Taxes and Fees|
Hot Tip: ANA offers 1 free open-jaw and 1 free stopover OR 2 open jaws on its award bookings. You can fit in some optimization here, but again the challenge will be finding award availability.
Using ANA miles on partners is best for flying nonstops, even though it may cost a bit more than flying on ANA’s own metal.
Here are some great examples of redemptions on nonstop routes:
Unfortunately, ANA does not operate any of its own flights to Auckland. Instead, it codeshares with Air New Zealand from Tokyo. Therefore, you won’t be able to use the award chart for ANA’s own flights to save miles.
Regardless, Star Alliance partners Air New Zealand and United have amazing business class products on flights to New Zealand, so you will be in good hands.
When booking a United flight with ANA miles we recommend using United.com to search for award space because of its more user-friendly interface. Searching through ANA is also an option, but it has a clunky website.
We would recommend using the following workflow:
Amex Membership Rewards points can take 2 to 3 days to transfer to ANA. You can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to ANA at a 3:1 ratio. For every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer, you will also receive a 5,000-mile bonus. Keep in mind that it can take up to 7 business days for your Marriott Bonvoy points to transfer to ANA.
The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
When it comes to cards that offer top-notch benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better card out there than The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Make no mistake — the Amex Platinum card is a premium card with a premium price tag. With amazing benefits like best-in-class airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and tremendous value in annual statement credits, it can easily prove to be one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet year after year.
This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!
The American Express® Gold Card is a game-changer.
With this card, you can earn 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants and you’ll also earn 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x.
There isn’t another card on the market that offers a 1-2 punch like this. Of course, there are several other benefits of the Gold Card as well, including extra monthly dining rewards and more.
Business Owner? Check out our article on the best Amex business cards that earn Membership Rewards.
Virgin Atlantic is also at the top of our list because of Flying Club’s great redemption rates and the fact that it’s one of the best Chase transfer partners for business class flights to New Zealand if you can find award availability on Air New Zealand.
The round-trip costs for Air New Zealand booked with Virgin Points are:
|Cabin Class||Virgin Points Cost||Taxes and Fees|
Here are some great example routes:
For Air New Zealand flights, follow these steps to book with Virgin Atlantic:
As we mentioned above, Virgin Atlantic is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. In fact, it is also a transfer partner with these major rewards currencies: Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One Miles (via Virgin Red), Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.
All except Marriott Bonvoy typically transfer at a 1:1 ratio. Even better, there are often huge transfer bonuses from American Express, Capital One, and Citi! These transfer bonuses range from 25% to 30%, so be sure to hold out for the absolute best deal when transferring your points.
On top of this, Virgin Atlantic has its own co-branded credit card with Bank of America.
Lastly, for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer, you will receive 20,000 Virgin Points and a 5,000-point bonus. Keep in mind that Virgin Points typically post from Marriott Bonvoy transfers in less than 24 hours.
With all of this in mind, you can potentially transfer 97,000 points during a 30% transfer bonus to book Air New Zealand round-trip business class! This is an amazing deal that you simply cannot pass up, but it seems like the stars have to line up just perfectly to execute this method, especially with the sparse award availability.
If you’ve wanted to try Virgin Australia’s long-haul business class, be sure to take advantage of transfer bonuses that could potentially save you a ton of points. You’ll have to take connecting flights with Virgin Australia to New Zealand, but using Virgin Points to book is a no-brainer!
Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)
A fantastic travel card with a huge welcome offer, good benefits, and perks for a moderate annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is one of the best travel rewards cards on the market. Its bonus categories include travel, dining, online grocery purchases, and streaming services, which gives you the opportunity to earn lots of bonus points on these purchases.
Additionally, it offers flexible point redemption options, no foreign transaction fees, and excellent travel insurance coverage including primary car rental insurance. With benefits like these, it’s easy to see why this card is an excellent choice for any traveler.
A top player in the high-end premium travel credit card space that earns 3x points on travel and dining while offering top luxury perks.
If you’re looking for an all-around excellent travel rewards card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the best options out there.
The card combines elite travel benefits and perks like airport lounge access, with excellent point earning and redemption options. Plus it offers top-notch travel insurance protections to keep you covered whether you’re at home or on the road.
Don’t forget the $300 annual travel credit which really helps to reduce the annual fee!
Business Owner? Check out our article on the best Chase business cards that earn Ultimate Rewards.
Alaska Airlines might not be the most intuitive frequent flyer program for flights to New Zealand, but it is nonetheless a great option for flights with Cathay Pacific, Fiji Airways, Korean Air, and Qantas.
To start, Alaska Airlines does not pass on fuel surcharges on any flights, except with British Airways and Icelandair. As a result, we can disregard all fuel surcharges for these routes. You will typically be paying around ~$19 in total taxes and fees each way.
Alaska has some pretty unique travel partners like Fiji Airways, and typically very good redemption rates to boot!
You can fly to New Zealand via Hong Kong round-trip on Cathay Pacific for 80,000 miles in economy, 95,000 in premium economy, 120,000 in business, and 160,000 in first class.
Additionally, you can fly from Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), or Honolulu (HNL) via Nadi (NAN) to Auckland (AKL), Christchurch (CHC), or Wellington (WLG) on Fiji Airways — round-trip award redemptions cost 80,000 miles in economy or 110,000 miles in business class.
Another interesting possibility is to fly to Auckland via Seoul-Incheon (ICN) round-trip on Korean Air for 85,000 miles in economy or 125,000 miles in business class.
Lastly, you can fly to New Zealand via Australia round-trip on Qantas for 85,000 miles in economy, 95,000 in premium economy, 110,000 in business, and 140,000 in first class.
Hot Tip: Alaska allows stopovers, even on one-way tickets! Be sure to work in a vacation within a vacation in Dubai, Hong Kong, Australia, Korea, or even Fiji!
Here are some great example routes and redemption costs:
Follow these steps to book with Alaska Airlines:
There are a lot of ways you can earn Alaska miles, and you can get a large chunk mostly through credit card sign-up bonuses. To be specific, you can sign up for Alaska Airlines’ co-branded credit cards offered by Bank of America.
You could also transfer hotel points from Marriott Bonvoy at a 3:1 ratio — unfortunately, Alaska doesn’t have transfer partners other than Marriott Bonvoy. When you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points in a single transaction, you’ll get a bonus of 5,000 Alaska Airlines miles.
To top off your balances, you can purchase Alaska miles. Though you’re limited to 60,000 miles per transaction, you can buy as many miles as you want. Alaska Airlines often offers discounts of up to 40% on purchased miles, so look to buy miles at those times.
A great option for Marriott hotel fans who want a no annual fee card and automatic Marriott Bonvoy elite status.
Casual travelers who like to frequent properties that are part of the Marriott Bonvoy collection of brands may want to consider the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card.
The Marriott Bold card rewards cardholders for Marriott stays and gives them a boost towards Marriott Bonvoy elite status.
Marriott loyalists will love this card's annual free night award, automatic elite status, and up to 17x points per $1 on Marriott hotel stays.
If you’re a frequent traveler and a Marriott loyalist, there’s a lot to love about the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card. The card comes packed with several great benefits like a free hotel night once a year, automatic Silver Elite status (with a fast-track to Gold Elite status), and multiple options for redeeming points.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy card gives you automatic Marriott elite status and helps you earn more Marriott Bonvoy points on your everyday purchases.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, the latest mid-tier offering in the Marriott Bonvoy lineup of cards, offers cardholders automatic elite status and ways to earn more Marriott Bonvoy points on each of their stays and daily purchases.
A premium card for Marriott fans who want perks like an annual statement credit and Free Night Award, plus a fast track to Marriott elite status.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card is a premium card designed with road warriors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalists in mind.
So is the card a worthwhile addition to your wallet?
With Etihad Guest, there’s only 1 practical route you can take to New Zealand:
For this route, you will be able to fly round-trip for 75,000 Etihad miles in economy and 125,000 miles in business class.
The business class award price is the best available for AA business class with the exception of JAL miles, which are much harder to earn (we’ll talk about Japan Airlines in the next section).
Keep in mind that this flight is extremely difficult to find award availability for since it’s American Airlines’ sole route to New Zealand.
But with the right amount of time and flexibility, you can get extremely affordable award fares with your Etihad Guest miles.
Booking with Etihad Airlines requires a phone call. To book, follow these steps:
Hot Tip: Etihad will not allow award flight holds, so be sure to act quickly once your points transfer to Etihad Guest!
Need help booking? Check out our step-by-step guide for booking American Airlines business class.
You can actually earn Etihad Guest miles very easily since Etihad is a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.
Amex, Capital One, and Citi transfer to Etihad Guest miles at a 1:1 ratio. There are sometimes bonuses that American Express runs when transferring to Etihad, so keep your eyes peeled!
The last time we saw an American Express bonus to Etihad Guest was when the issuer offered a 20% transfer bonus in July 2022. This meant that for 1,000 Amex points, you got 1,200 Etihad Guest Miles.
Although we wouldn’t count on it happening anytime soon, a 20% transfer bonus would lower the cost dramatically, bringing down the price of a round-trip, business class American Airlines ticket to 104,167 Amex Membership Rewards points! This spectacular booking retails for a minimum of ~$11,000 and would net you 10 to 11 cents in value per point!
Japan Airlines Mileage Bank presents a niche advantage if you satisfy the following criteria:
To fly the same exact American Airlines route as above (DFW – AKL), for a round-trip you’ll pay 70,000 miles in economy, 94,000 miles in premium economy, and 130,000 miles in business class.
Again, we wouldn’t endorse this method unless you fit the 3 conditions above.
You can book flights on Japan Airlines online by following the steps below:
Hot Tip: When you select your flights, make sure there is availability since Japan Airlines will also show flights you can be waitlisted for.
Again, JAL’s only transfer partner is Marriott Bonvoy.
JAL has a co-branded credit card, but it lacks a strong welcome bonus and bonus categories that increase earnings. It’s best to save them for other redemptions, such as booking JAL’s own first class!
For those who want to make their miles stretch further and don’t mind flying in economy, look no further!
British Airways Executive Club also provides competitive economy or short-haul fares. It also happens to be a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, which bolsters the value of this method.
Since New Zealand is a relatively inaccessible destination, cash prices on tickets can often go sky-high!
To fly on AA’s nonstop Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Auckland (AKL) service, you will pay only 90,000 miles round-trip. You also won’t pay any fuel surcharges, as they are not levied in New Zealand.
Keep in mind that booking premium economy costs 118,000 miles and business costs 160,000 miles, making this an unattractive redemption for premium cabins.
You can book awards completely online using British Airways Avios. Here’s how:
British Airways is a transfer partner with Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.
Amex, Bilt, Capital One, and Chase transfer almost instantly at a 1:1 ratio, while Marriott Bonvoy transfer at a 3:1 ratio with a bonus of 5,000 Avios when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points in a single transaction.
Although British Airways is known for levying fuel surcharges on its own flights, it does not do so on Iberia and AA flights.
You can also earn lots of Avios through the Chase co-branded British Airways Visa Signature® Card. However, it’s much easier to earn through Chase Ultimate Rewards, so we recommend looking there first.
Similar to Etihad Guest, this method of booking travel to New Zealand is perfect for 1 routing:
For those who only have Chase Ultimate Rewards points and not Amex Membership Rewards points, this will be the cheapest way to fly business class to New Zealand.
To make things even better, you won’t pay any fuel surcharges when booking through United. Also, keep in mind that the mileage price quoted above is the saver-level pricing; most dates will have much more expensive pricing, around 200,000 miles one-way.
The cherry on top is that this route is nonstop and features United Airlines’ flagship Polaris class product. United tends to lump all Polaris business class cabins together; this is not necessarily accurate since the new seats are only offered on a few routes. But the soft product (including bedding and food) will be the same regardless of which version of Polaris class you fly on.
Need help booking? Check out our guide on the best ways to book United Polaris business class.
Also, Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy are transfer partners with United.
Chase and Bilt both transfer at a 1:1 ratio, while the current Marriott Bonvoy transfer ratio is 3:1.1. And if you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, you will get a bonus of 5,000 United miles.
Again, this is the best option to book business class for those who only have Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Some of our readers have a lot of AA miles and want to use them. Although the redemption rates aren’t as nice as the rates you’d find booking with Etihad Guest Miles, it’s definitely still an option to consider if you’re sitting on loads of AA miles.
Here’s the award chart for the DFW-AKL nonstop route on AA’s 787:
|Cabin Class||AA Miles Cost||Taxes and Fees|
Here’s how you can book on American Airlines:
Need help booking? See our step-by-step guide for booking American Airlines business class.
Although the lowest possible price for business class tickets on AA would cost around 80,000 miles one-way, you should expect to see prices of around 175,000 miles one-way on many dates.
You can also transfer points at a 1:1 ratio from Bilt Rewards almost instantly.
If you’re short on AA miles, you can top your account off with Marriott Bonvoy points at a 3:1 ratio, but it’s not the best option.
It can take up to 3 business days to transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to American Airlines.
The last method we want to mention is useful if you want to fly United or Air New Zealand business class to New Zealand.
With Avianca LifeMiles, you have access to Star Alliance flights that depart from other airports like Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, etc. You may be willing to shell out more miles to either fly from a different airport or fly the more solid product on Air New Zealand.
But what makes LifeMiles so special is how easy it is to earn points (which we’ll get into below).
The award chart for round-trip flights to New Zealand from the U.S. is as follows:
|Cabin Class||Avianca LifeMiles Cost||Taxes and Fees|
You can book awards completely online. To do so, follow these steps:
Besides these other points currencies, you can transfer from Marriott Bonvoy at a 3:1 ratio.
Don’t have enough points? There are often huge bonuses of 125% to 200% when purchasing Avianca LifeMiles. You might have to spend around $1,000, but you’ll still come out way ahead compared to paying with cash for a flight.
Even though New Zealand is relatively hard to get to from the U.S., there are still a lot of ways to fly there. Whether you want a nonstop flight to get there efficiently, a connecting flight to save money, or want to also visit another country — you have loads of options when planning your trip!
Finding award availability from the U.S. to New Zealand can be tricky, especially from cities like Los Angeles. But if you do your due diligence and plan far enough in advance, it’s definitely worth it!
Now you have the full picture of the best ways to fly to New Zealand with points and miles.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® card, click here.
None! There are no fuel surcharges when flying to New Zealand.
You can spend 80,000 Avianca Lifemiles to fly round-trip on Air New Zealand or United between the U.S. and New Zealand.
You can also use 70,000 JAL miles, but these are typically harder to get since they are mostly acquired by transferring points from Marriott Bonvoy. Plus, your Marriott Bonvoy points may be put to better use elsewhere.
You can use 120,000 ANA miles to book round-trip business class on Star Alliance flights to New Zealand.
Alternatively, you can redeem 125,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points to book round-trip business class on Air New Zealand between the U.S. and Auckland.
You can also use 110,000 Alaska miles to fly Fiji Airways to New Zealand via Nadi, or Qantas to New Zealand via Australia (or nonstop).
Another redemption worth mentioning is Cathay Pacific business class to New Zealand via Hong Kong for 120,000 Alaska miles round-trip.
Lastly, you can use 130,000 JAL miles to fly American Airlines nonstop from Dallas-Fort Worth to New Zealand.
There aren’t any nonstop routes from the U.S. to New Zealand that offer first class.
You can book Qantas first class via Australia in first class/business class for 140,000 Alaska miles or 220,000 AA miles.
You can also book Cathay Pacific first class via Hong Kong for 160,000 Alaska miles or 220,000 AA miles.
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UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.