Travel: How to get to (and stay in) New Zealand on points and miles

The best business-class seats to book using Amex Membership Rewards points

  The best business-class seats to book using Amex Membership Rewards points Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information. It’s fairly easy to rack up American Express Membership Rewards points, between lucrative welcome bonuses and generous earning rates on many American Express cards. However, earning points is one thing — redeeming those points for maximum value (and comfort) is an entirely different …It’s fairly easy to rack up American Express Membership Rewards points, between lucrative welcome bonuses and generous earning rates on many American Express cards. However, earning points is one thing — redeeming those points for maximum value (and comfort) is an entirely different story.

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After more than two years, New Zealand will finally reopen to vaccinated tourists from visa waiver countries, including the U.S., as of May 1. This is terrific news for travelers eager to either return to one of the world’s most beautiful countries or finally visit for the first time.

Much like Australia, New Zealand is a trek to get to. Nonstop flight options are limited, but there are lots of one-stop options from most major U.S. cities. Getting there will be easier come September when Air New Zealand launches its highly anticipated nonstop service to New York’s JFK Airport. And of course, once you arrive, you have plenty of hotels to choose from, ranging from budget to ultra-luxe.

How to get to Denmark with credit card points and airline miles

  How to get to Denmark with credit card points and airline miles Denmark is a culturally rich destination with plenty of interesting things to see, eat and do. Whether you want to take in the unique architecture, a thriving art and design scene or the burgeoning culinary scene, you won’t be disappointed. Despite being the smallest country in Scandinavia, Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, is extremely easy to reach …Despite being the smallest country in Scandinavia, Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, is extremely easy to reach from the U.S. Although the number has dropped since Norwegian Air cut U.S. flights, the city still has direct flights from seven different U.S. hubs, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Today, we’re going to take a look at how you can book some of these flights and hotels using your points and miles. No matter what airline, hotel or transferable rewards you have at your disposal, you should be able to find at least one or two good ways to book an award trip to New Zealand.

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Flying to New Zealand with points and miles

Naturally, Air New Zealand offers the most flight to the island nation. This year, the airline will offer flights to Auckland Airport (AKL) from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Starting Sept. 17, 2022, it will also offer thrice-weekly service to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).

How 4 TPG reporters would spend 1 million United miles

  How 4 TPG reporters would spend 1 million United miles United MileagePlus has seen changes and devaluations over the years, but MileagePlus miles remain a powerful airline currency for both international and domestic award tickets. In addition to offering some great redemption options and fun routes (such as the Island Hopper), there’s also the program’s famous Excursionist Perk, which allows a free stopover on round-trip …In addition to offering some great redemption options and fun routes (such as the Island Hopper), there’s also the program’s famous Excursionist Perk, which allows a free stopover on round-trip international tickets.

Air New Zealand is a Star Alliance member so you can easily connect from a United or other partner flight and book awards through partner programs. Alternatively, United offers its own nonstop flights between Auckland and San Francisco.

Related: A review of Air New Zealand’s 777-300ER in business class

(Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images) © The Points Guy (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

Oneworld flyers can normally fly to Auckland nonstop from Los Angeles on American Airlines, though that route is suspended until the fall of 2022. Alternatively, there are lots of one-stop options with Qantas or Oneworld Connect member Fiji Airways. Although Fiji Airways isn’t a full-fledged member of the alliance, you can still book awards using American, Alaska, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas miles and enjoy some Oneworld elite benefits.

Unfortunately, the SkyTeam alliance doesn’t offer any nonstop service between the U.S. and New Zealand. There are some one-stop options with airlines like China Airlines, China Eastern and Korean Air, but they are limited in comparison to the other alliances.

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  Why the Queen and other royals honored Prince Philip with green clothing instead of black at his memorial service The Queen, Princess Anne, and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, all wore a certain shade of green at Prince Philip's memorial service on Tuesday.The memorial was the first major official engagement Queen Elizabeth II attended since October of 2021, as Sky News reported, and came just over a month since she tested positive for COVID-19. She was escorted from her residence in Windsor Castle to the abbey by Prince Andrew during the BBC's live broadcast of the service, where viewers got a first glimpse of her emerald coatdress.

Related: 9 reasons New Zealand should be on your bucket list

Booking Star Alliance flights to New Zealand

Finding award availability on Air New Zealand’s U.S. routes is notoriously difficult, especially in business class. However, if you are lucky enough to come across these unicorns, you’ll have some terrific redemption possibilities.

(Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy)

The cheapest way to book these awards is through Avianca LifeMiles. The program charges 40,000 miles each way in economy or 80,000 miles each way in business class from anywhere in the U.S. You can transfer miles to Avianca LifeMiles from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One and Citi ThankYou.

Related: The easiest airline miles to earn and why you want them

(Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images) © The Points Guy (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

Alternatively, Air Canada Aeroplan charges around 50,000 to 60,000 miles each way in economy or 75,000 to 85,000 miles in business class, depending on the distance. Obviously, that’s a bit more expensive, but this option is useful for those looking to transfer points in from Chase Ultimate Rewards earned with a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Air New Zealand reveals new Boeing 787-9 business-class seat

  Air New Zealand reveals new Boeing 787-9 business-class seat A new business-class product is headed to Air New Zealand’s fleet of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. The airline revealed in a regulatory filing this week with the U.S. Department of Transportation that it’s planning to install 42 business-class seats in its 787-9s in a 1-2-1 configuration, featuring two subproducts: Business Premier and Business Premier Luxe. Want …The airline revealed in a regulatory filing this week with the U.S. Department of Transportation that it’s planning to install 42 business-class seats in its 787-9s in a 1-2-1 configuration, featuring two subproducts: Business Premier and Business Premier Luxe.

(Screenshot from aircanada.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot from aircanada.com)

If you have a stockpile of United MileagePlus miles, you could book United-operated flights from 40,000 miles each way in economy or 90,000 miles in business class. Of course, these rates could be much higher if there’s no saver space available or you’re booking close-in. Meanwhile, partner awards start at 44,000 miles for economy and 99,0000 miles for business class. If you’re short on United miles, you can boost your balance with a cobranded United card or by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Related: How to book multiple trips for the price of one by maximizing United’s routing rules

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Another option to consider isn’t actually through a Star Alliance program, but rather through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. The program partners with Air New Zealand and charges 40,000 miles each way for economy awards or just 62,500 miles for business class, which is a steal. Meanwhile, flights from Hawaii cost just 30,000 miles or 45,000 miles, respectively. However, Virgin only allows you to book nonstop flights and you must call to book.

Related: Unlock incredible value with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Booking Oneworld flights to New Zealand

If you’re looking to fly American Airlines, Qantas or Fiji Airways, your top three options are through American AAdvantage, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.

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  Want to earn Loyalty Points? Here’s why booking through American Airlines Vacations isn’t always best With Loyalty Points as the new way of earning American Airlines elite status, TPG wanted to test out how various ways of earning American Airlines miles would post. So, when I saw an American Airlines Vacations promotion offering 20,000 bonus miles at select AMResorts properties in the Dominican Republic earlier this year, I booked. I …So, when I saw an American Airlines Vacations promotion offering 20,000 bonus miles at select AMResorts properties in the Dominican Republic earlier this year, I booked.

Asia Miles is ideal for those looking to spend transferable credit card points as it’s a partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One and Citi ThankYou. It charges from 40,000 miles each way for economy, 50,000 miles for premium economy and 75,000 miles for business class.

(Screenshot from asiamiles.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot from asiamiles.com)

When there’s saver space, American charges 40,000 AAdvantage miles one-way in economy, 65,000 in premium economy and 80,000 in business class.

Related: How to earn miles in the American Airlines AAdvantage program

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Here’s where things get interesting. Alaska Mileage Plan charges the same rates as AAdvantage for American-operated flights. However, Fiji Airways and Qantas awards cost just 55,000 miles each way in business class. Economy Fiji Airways awards will set you back 40,000 miles, economy Qantas awards 42,500 miles and premium economy Qantas awards 47,500 miles. As an added bonus, Alaska will let you add a free stopover in Fiji or Australia so you can essentially take two trips for the price of one.


Video: Air New Zealand To Start Direct Flights From U.S. And It Will Be One of the Longest in the World (Buzz60)

Related: See two cities for the price of one with stopovers

a chair sitting in front of a computer: (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Booking SkyTeam flights to New Zealand

Given the limited flight options, it is very difficult to find SkyTeam award availability to New Zealand.

If you’re able to find availability, Delta SkyMiles offers awards from 55,000 each way in economy and 120,000 miles in business class. But again, these awards are rare so you are usually better off sticking to Star Alliance or Oneworld programs.

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Related: Book this, not that: SkyTeam award tickets

Where to stay in New Zealand with points and miles

While New Zealand isn’t home to as many points hotels from the major chains as Australia, there’s still a nice mix of options.

Redeeming World of Hyatt points in New Zealand

One of the most luxurious options is the Park Hyatt Auckland, which just opened in September 2020. It has a terrific waterfront location, amenities include a sumptuous spa and infinity pool, and local culture is incorporated throughout. As a Category 5 property in the World of Hyatt program, award nights here will set you back 17,000 to 23,000 points per night.

Related: What is World of Hyatt elite status worth?

A Park Hyatt Auckland suite. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt) © The Points Guy A Park Hyatt Auckland suite. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

For a luxurious nature escape, redeem your World of Hyatt points at the Eichardt’s Private Hotel in Queenstown. It’s located right on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and offers absolutely breathtaking views. Rooms here don’t come cheap, ranging from 35,000 to 45,000 points per night. However, as a Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) property, all World of Hyatt members get extra perks like free breakfast, early check-in, late checkout and a room upgrade.

If you’re short on World of Hyatt points, you can quickly boost your balance by transferring points from Chase Ultimate Rewards or picking up the World of Hyatt Credit Card or World of Hyatt Business Credit Card.

The view at Eichardt’s Private Hotel. (Photo courtesy of Small Luxury Hotels) © The Points Guy The view at Eichardt’s Private Hotel. (Photo courtesy of Small Luxury Hotels)

Redeeming Hilton Honors points in New Zealand

Hilton Honors loyalists have seven hotels to choose from across the island nation. If you’re looking to stay in the heart of the action, check in to the Hilton Auckland, located right along the water on Princes Wharf. The hotel is nautically decorated and features an outdoor lap pool with a unique underwater viewing window. Award nights typically range between 40,000 and 60,000 points per night.

How to get maximum value from the United MileagePlus program

  How to get maximum value from the United MileagePlus program Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information. Although its numerous evolutions and devaluations have resulted in a very different program now than when it launched 40 years ago, United’s MileagePlus program is still a great option for those looking to get a consistently high value when redeeming points. It’s a …Although its numerous evolutions and devaluations have resulted in a very different program now than when it launched 40 years ago, United’s MileagePlus program is still a great option for those looking to get a consistently high value when redeeming points.

Alternatively, you can stay about 30 minutes south of the city at the beautiful new DoubleTree by Hilton in Karaka, which is an idyllic town known for its horse stud and sheep farms. Award nights here max out at 50,000 points per night.

A room at the Hilton Auckland. (Photo courtesy of the Hilton Auckland) © The Points Guy A room at the Hilton Auckland. (Photo courtesy of the Hilton Auckland)

Other great options include the Hilton Lake Taupo, DoubleTree by Hilton Wellington, Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Queenstown and Chateau on the Park Christchurch.

Related: 8 ways to maximize Hilton Honors redemptions

(Screenshot from hilton.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot from hilton.com)

Redeeming IHG Rewards points in New Zealand

IHG fields a whopping 25 options in New Zealand, including chic new constructions like the Voco Auckland City Centre, several Holiday Inns for those on a budget and a number of ultra-luxurious Mr & Mrs Smith properties, such Eagles Nest.

Rooms at the new Voco typically hover around 36,000 points per night but can near 60,000 points during high season, making this a good use of your annual reward night certificate from the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card. Meanwhile, the new Holiday Inn Express Auckland City Centre (located in the same building as the Voco) and the Crowne Plaza Auckland tend to stay under 30,000 points per night. Further south, the InterContinental Wellington also tends to cost around 30,000 points per night.

Related: How to use the IHG hotel award night certificate

(Screenshot from ihg.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot from ihg.com)

In Queenstown, options include several Holiday Inns as well as a Crown Plaza. Rooms at these properties usually range around 20,000 to 35,000 points per night.

(Screenshot from ihg.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot from ihg.com)

If you’re looking to stay in the more unique, remote lodges that New Zealand is known for, the Mr & Mrs Smith collection is for you. These properties can retail for over $1,000 per night, so award nights are priced accordingly. If you find availability, you could easily spend over 150,000 points per night.

Related: How to earn IHG Rewards points

(Screenshot from ihg.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot from ihg.com)

Redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points in New Zealand

Marriott Bonvoy’s only option in New Zealand is the Four Points by Sheraton Auckland. Award nights here range between 20,000 and 30,000 points per night.

Related: 7 ways to maximize Marriott Bonvoy award night redemptions

Getting around

Auckland has an extensive public transportation system, which includes buses, trains and ferries (though taking the ferry is more of an experience than a commute). Depending on how long you’ll be in town, it could be worth purchasing and loading money onto an AT HOP card to save on your public transport rides. Ride-hailing services like Uber, Ola and Zoomy are also available.

(Photo by Manfred Gottschalk/Getty Images) © The Points Guy (Photo by Manfred Gottschalk/Getty Images)

If you plan to venture outside of the city, you’ll be best off renting a car for maximum flexibility. Just note that a number of credit cards that typically offer rental car coverage exclude protection in New Zealand. Also, remember that Kiwis drive on the left side of the road.

However you get around, make sure to pay for your travel expenses with a card that earns bonus points on travel. Two of our favorites include the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Cards, which earn 3 and 2 points per dollar on all travel purchases, respectively. These small purchases can add up over the course of a long trip, so you might as well earn points on them.

Related: Best credit cards for rental car coverage

(Photo by Matthew Micah Wright/Getty Images) © The Points Guy (Photo by Matthew Micah Wright/Getty Images)

Bottom line

No matter where you go in New Zealand, you’ll be spoiled by breathtaking scenery and plenty of adrenaline-busting, culinary and cultural activities to keep you busy. Although it might seem like a world away from home, it’s getting easier to get there and stay there using your hard-earned points and miles.

Featured photo by wnjay_wootthisak/Getty Images.

SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free.

These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

How to get maximum value from the United MileagePlus program .
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information. Although its numerous evolutions and devaluations have resulted in a very different program now than when it launched 40 years ago, United’s MileagePlus program is still a great option for those looking to get a consistently high value when redeeming points. It’s a …Although its numerous evolutions and devaluations have resulted in a very different program now than when it launched 40 years ago, United’s MileagePlus program is still a great option for those looking to get a consistently high value when redeeming points.

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