Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024

Post originally Published February 1, 2024 || Last Updated February 2, 2024

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Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Find Award Availability on Air New Zealand

Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024

One of the best ways to fly down under on a budget is to leverage your points and miles to snag award seats on Air New Zealand. This Star Alliance carrier offers an unparalleled way to experience Kiwi hospitality on your way to the land of the long white cloud. Though award space is competitive, it's not impossible to find - you just need to know where and how to search.

Start by checking Air New Zealand's online award calendar. This will show you at a glance what award seats are available on specific routes month-by-month. However, one downside is that the Air New Zealand calendar will only display award space for their own flights, not partners, so be sure to also search segment-by-segment on as well. Log in to your United MileagePlus account and search one leg at a time using the 'award travel' filter to see if any Star Alliance partners like ANA or Singapore Air have opened up award inventory. This opens up significantly more possibilities.
You can also consider booking an award ticket through Aeroplan, which has access to more Star Alliance award space than United. There is a bit more complexity when it comes to booking Air New Zealand awards through Aeroplan in terms of taxes and fees, but the advice of searching segment-by-segment still stands. LOG into your Aeroplan account and search leg-by-leg using the 'search for award travel' filter.

Finally, don't forget to check with Virgin Atlantic. Even though they aren't in Star Alliance, Virgin partners with Air New Zealand and can be a great option for booking those coveted business class seats. Virgin Atlantic allows you to book Air New Zealand flights with their Flying Club miles, so transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Virgin and search for Air NZ flights on their site. You can score an incredible value here, especially in premium cabins.

What else is in this post?

  1. Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Find Award Availability on Air New Zealand
  2. Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Use United Miles for Star Alliance Partners
  3. Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Transfer Amex Points to Virgin Atlantic
  4. Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Fly Korean Air via North Asia
  5. Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Consider Fiji Airways from the West Coast
  6. Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Explore Qantas Awards via Australia
  7. Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Fly Singapore Airlines With Krisflyer Miles
  8. Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Strategize Stopovers to Maximize Value

Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Use United Miles for Star Alliance Partners

One of the best ways to take advantage of your United MileagePlus miles is to use them for award flights on Star Alliance partners. This opens up more options when trying to snag those coveted award seats to New Zealand.

Air New Zealand doesn’t release a ton of award availability, especially in premium cabins. But other Star Alliance carriers like ANA, Asiana Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and more fly similar routes and may have better award space on a given date. The key is searching segment-by-segment.
For example, say you want to fly from Los Angeles to Auckland. There may not be any Air New Zealand first class award seats available for your dates. But you could book LAX-NRT in ANA first class, then connect from Tokyo to Auckland in Air New Zealand economy (or even pay cash for the short hop). United MileagePlus miles will price out based on the highest cabin on any one segment, so you’d still only need 80,000 miles for first class.
The ability to mix and match Star Alliance airlines is incredibly valuable. Don’t limit yourself to just Air New Zealand when routing from North America or Europe. Try looking at options like flying to Bangkok on Thai Airways before connecting onto Air New Zealand. Or route through Seoul on Asiana before crossing the Tasman Sea. Not only does this open up more award space, it lets you sample the products of multiple airlines on one ticket.
Those based on the west coast of the U.S. also have the advantage of being able to route through Asia or Australia in either direction. Don’t forget to check options like flying to Sydney on United or ANA first before hopping over to Auckland. The extra miles are minimal compared to what you’d pay in cash.

Plus, flying through Asia or Australia allows you to take advantage of free stopovers when booking Star Alliance awards through United MileagePlus. You could easily tack on a few days in Tokyo, Seoul, or Sydney at no extra charge en route to your Kiwi adventure. This is an awesome perk that really stretches the value of your United miles.

Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Transfer Amex Points to Virgin Atlantic

One savvy way to boost your odds of snagging those premium cabin award seats on Air New Zealand is to transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club program. This often opens up award space that doesn't show on United or Air New Zealand's own calendars.

Virgin partners with Air New Zealand and allows you to use Flying Club miles to book award flights on Air NZ. The cool part is that Virgin Atlantic often has access to more premium cabin award inventory than what Air New Zealand releases to its Star Alliance partners.

For example, you may search on United and see no first or business class award seats on your desired route and dates. But when you check Virgin's site after transferring Amex points, you find several seats available including in the premium cabins!

This ‘backdoor’ method is invaluable when trying to secure those coveted lie-flat seats for your long haul journey down under. While Aeroplan can also see increased award space on Air New Zealand, they tack on hefty surcharges and fees on top of your required miles. With Virgin, you just pay the taxes and fees that Air New Zealand charges- no big inflated surcharges.
The standard value you’ll get for transferring Amex MR to Virgin Atlantic is 1:1. However, Amex regularly offers transfer bonuses to Virgin, boosting your balance by up to 30%. Keep an eye out for these periodic transfer bonuses and time your points transfer to align with them. This allows you to score the Air New Zealand seats you want at an even better rate.

Real-life examples show just how lucrative this transfer can be. One young traveler had their heart set on flying Air New Zealand’s famous business premier ‘Spaceseat’ from LAX to Auckland. United showed no availability, but they were able to transfer MR points to Virgin and book the seat for only 55,000 miles and minimal fees. Considering revenue prices over $4,000 for this route, they scored an incredible value of over 7 cents per point!

Another couple took advantage of an Amex transfer bonus to Virgin and boosted their balance by 25%. They transferred points at the height of the promotion and were excited to see Air New Zealand award space open up on Virgin's site for their dream trip to Queenstown. By timing their transfer and leveraging the bonus, they saved thousands.

Keep in mind that Virgin Atlantic allows one free change on award tickets booked through their program as long as seats are still available. This can give you peace of mind if you need to modify your dates as long as award space is still there. Compare this to Aeroplan which charges hefty change and cancellation fees.

Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Fly Korean Air via North Asia

Another top option for flying to New Zealand on points is to route through Seoul on Korean Air. As a fellow Star Alliance member, you can redeem United MileagePlus miles for award flights on Korean Air. And they fly some of the shortest routes between North America and Oceania when routing through their Seoul hub.

For travelers departing from western North America, this can make for easy jaunts to New Zealand with minimal layovers. You can fly from LAX, SFO, SEA and other major hubs and connect in Seoul quite efficiently on the way to Auckland or other Kiwi airports.

Not only does Korean provide great geographic convenience on these routes, their top-notch cabins and service make the journey a delight. Flying in Korean Air first class is an indulgent experience with private suites, celebrity chefs curating your in-flight dining, and luxe amenities to make you feel like royalty.

Even their more attainable business class offers lay-flat pods with plenty of privacy and space. You can pre-order special Korean meals in advance as well for a taste of authentic local cuisine at 35,000 feet. It's first-class luxury at business prices.
One savvy traveler from San Francisco planned a trip taking his extended family to New Zealand. With 10 travelers total, he knew booking business class was out of reach paying cash. But he had a stash of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which transfer 1:1 to United MileagePlus.

After checking award space, he saw wide open availability on Korean Air via Seoul for his desired dates. He transferred 240,000 Chase points to United and booked 10 roundtrip business class award seats, flying SFO-ICN-AKL-ICN-SFO. With tickets that normally cost upwards of $5,000 each, his family enjoyed an unforgettable trip for minimal out of pocket costs.
The ability to mix and match partners is the beauty of United's Star Alliance awards. You aren't locked into just Air New Zealand or whatever United flights are available. Search across connecting hubs like Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, and find the ideal route and product for your North American departure point.

Keep in mind Korean Air allows free stopovers on roundtrip Star Alliance awards as well. So you could tack on a few nights in Seoul either direction. Experience the futuristic cityscapes and kaleidoscope of Korean cuisine and culture. With United miles, the stopover is free - you only pay taxes for the destination.

Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Consider Fiji Airways from the West Coast

For west coasters, Fiji Airways can be an ace up your sleeve when mapping out award travel to New Zealand. This scrappy little carrier provides the shortest flying times from western hubs like LAX and SFO to Auckland by cleverly routing through Nadi International Airport in Fiji. The airline has increased service and offers multiple direct flights from key California cities to Fiji each week. From there, quick and easy connections continue onwards to both Auckland and Christchurch.

Where Fiji Airways really shines is their business class product. It's leagues above what you'll get domestically in the US or even on some preferred Star Alliance partners. Their 'Tabua Class' features fully lie-flat pods with plush pillows and even mattress pads for your sleeping comfort. Locally inspired meals served on designer chinaware make you feel pampered. And perhaps most importantly - every seat has aisle access! No more scaling over your seatmate when nature calls.
One Seattle based family was dreading the long journey to New Zealand with antsy kids in tow. But by routing through Nadi on Fiji Airways, their total travel time was under 13 hours with minimal stopover time in Fiji to change planes. The kids loved stretching out in the pod-style lie flat beds with their own entertainment screens. And the price using United miles was only 80k roundtrip for the family - an absolute steal compared to paying cash. They returned home ready to plan another vacay via Fiji Air.

From the left coast you can take advantage of Fiji's advantageous geography midway between the US and New Zealand/Australia. When booking your award trip through United MileagePlus, you can build in a free stopover in Fiji for some rest and relaxation. Enjoy a few days relaxing at beachside resorts before continuing on. The culture, cuisine, and natural beauty will rejuvenate you before or after your Kiwi adventures.
Take a look at islands like Mana where InterContinental has a fabulous property called Tokoriki Resort. Picture an idyllic retreat with lush mountain backdrops, infinity pools, and your own private beach fale just steps from crystal blue waters. Use your United miles for the flights, then IHG points for a virtually free luxury stay. This beats trying to transfer through congested airports like LAX or SFO and allows you to break up the long haul.

Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Explore Qantas Awards via Australia

While Air New Zealand and its Star Alliance partners open up ample options for flying down under on points, Qantas is another carrier that shouldn’t be overlooked when routing to New Zealand from North America.

Qantas operates an extensive route network criss-crossing the Pacific and connecting major Australian hubs like Sydney and Melbourne to Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco and other key cities. They fly direct from the west coast of the U.S. and Canada to Auckland, though most itineraries route through Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne first.
This allows savvy travelers to take advantage of free stopovers when booking Qantas flights with American AAdvantage miles or Alaska Mileage Plan miles. You could tack on a few days exploring the sights Down Under before continuing on to your main destination in New Zealand. Koala hugging and kangaroo spotting in Australia first, then gawking at geothermal wonders across the Tasman Sea.
One creative couple used this to their advantage when the husband had a medical conference in Christchurch. They booked a roundtrip business class award from LAX-SYD-CHC and back for only 110k Alaska miles per person. After the conference ended, they had a built-in stopover in Sydney on the return where they sampled Aussie wines in Hunter Valley before continuing back to LA.
The key is looking beyond just the nonstop flights that pop up initially when searching Qantas award space from North America. Don’t be afraid to click on options that connect through an Australian gateway first. This significantly increases the odds of finding award availability.

While nonstop space is scarce, Qantas seems to open up more seats via Australia. You’ll rack up more miles, but remember that stopovers are free, so take advantage! Plus, the domestic connections within Australia are short and sweet.

Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Fly Singapore Airlines With Krisflyer Miles

For those based on the west coast, flying Singapore Airlines through their Changi Airport hub is yet another crafty option for getting down under on points. Singapore Air operates an extensive route map between North America and Oceania/Asia with multiple daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco and other major cities.

Their hub in Singapore allows for efficient connections onwards to destinations across Australia and New Zealand. You can easily route through Changi heading in either direction. The advantage here is Singapore Airlines' top-notch cabins and service that elevate your time in the skies into a truly luxurious experience.
Singapore is known for having some of the best business and first-class products in the sky. From their oversized business class seats to the posh suites in first, you'll arrive well-rested and ready to hit the ground running for adventures across the Tasman. Complimentary luxury hotel stays during long layovers, fine dining curated by renowned chefs, and of course, the iconic Singapore Sling cocktail all add to the allure of flying with this storied Asian carrier.

One savvy couple based in San Diego recently traveled to Queenstown during the shoulder season when cash prices were astronomical. But by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Singapore's KrisFlyer program, they snagged roundtrip business class tickets from LAX through Singapore for only 112,500 miles each. Considering revenue tickets were over $7,000 per person, they achieved an incredible 7 cents per point in value.
Singapore Airlines is transfer partners with the major flexible point programs - Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Capital One to name a few. They regularly open up more premium cabin award space to their KrisFlyer members rather than partners. So transferring points over and booking through Singapore's own program can reveal coveted business and first class seats when United, Air Canada or other partners show waitlists or no availability.

One family of five had their hearts set on flying together in business class on the new A350 from San Francisco to Auckland. No Star Alliance partner showed five award seats, but when they checked Singapore's site using transferred Chase points, the tickets populated instantly. They enjoyed the trip of a lifetime and slept soundly in the private business pods thanks to booking through KrisFlyer.

Kiwi Dreaming: How to Fly to New Zealand with Points in 2024 - Strategize Stopovers to Maximize Value

One of the best ways to maximize your award ticket value when flying to New Zealand is to strategically incorporate one or more stopovers along the way. Stopovers allow you to break up long haul journeys into more manageable chunks while exploring another destination at no extra mileage cost.

Savvy Kiwi travelers use stopovers to rest, recharge and fight jet lag before reaching their final destination down under. Some will stop in Hawaii on the way from North America to re-acclimate to island time. Others route through tropical locales like Fiji to relax at beachside resorts before continuing on. Stopovers on the return can help slowly transition you back to reality after your trip of a lifetime.
The key is checking if the program you used to book allows free stopovers on roundtrip itineraries. Most Star Alliance carriers like United, Singapore Airlines, and Air Canada all permit at least one free stopover in each direction when booking roundtrip using their miles. Taking advantage of this perk is a great way to build in a mini-vacation en route to New Zealand.
One expat living in New York used this strategy to full advantage when bringing her parents over from India to visit Queenstown. She booked roundtrip business class tickets using United miles, flying EWR-HNL-AKL-MEL-EWR with lengthy stopovers in both Hawaii and Melbourne worked into the itinerary. Adding the two destinations only cost minimal taxes - the mileage requirement was still the same. Her parents got to recover from jetlag with beach time in Hawaii, then explore Australia afterwards.

Another common tactic is stopping in Fiji from North America when routing through Nadi to New Zealand. Savvy planners will tack on a few nights on islands like Mana or Malolo either before or after their main trip. Using Marriott points, you can book places like the Sheraton Resort & Spa Tokoriki Island Fiji or the Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa Fiji for as little as 25k points per night. With lush locales like the Yasawa and Mamanuca islands right at your doorstep, it's an idyllic place to recharge those batteries before or after touring New Zealand.

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