It’s no secret that the flights to Australia & New Zealand from the United States are long. It can take up to 24 hours to get from New York City to Sydney. Stopping for a night or longer along the way helps break up the trip and adds another destination to your travels. Here are some ideas of stopovers you can take to break up the journey and add a new destination to your list.
With over 300 islands – many of them baren – Fiji is a tropical paradise. Scuba dive or snorkel among the many colorful fish, coral, and clear waters. Pamper yourself in a secluded, luxurious resort. There are many fabulous luxury resorts to choose from, and Fiji is known for it’s friendly, hospitable culture. It’s a laid-backed paradise.
Once you land in Fiji, it takes an extra flight or boat ride to get out to the smaller islands, so a minimum of 4 nights in Fiji is ideal.
Flights to Fiji and on to Australia and New Zealand
Fiji Airways runs daily flights from Los Angeles to Nadi, Fiji, which takes 11.5 hours. Departing from San Francisco, the Fiji Airways non-stop flight flies about three times a week and takes about 11 hours. Both Fiji Airways and Air New Zealand fly daily 3 hour non-stop flights from Nadi to Auckland, New Zealand. Jetstar, Fiji Airways, Qantas, and Virgin Australia depart daily from Nadi, Fiji to Sydney, Australia, during the 4.5 to 5-hour flight.
You’re probably most familiar with Tahiti and Bora Bora, but the country French Polynesia is made up of a 1,245-mile area of 118 islands in the South Pacific. Snorkeling, diving, and swimming with sharks and rays are all popular activities, but the most popular thing to do is relax on the beach or by the pool. Most visit French Polynesia for the dream of staying in an overwater bungalow, and French Polynesia has some of the best in the world. Overwater bungalows were invented in Moorea (an island right off of Tahiti) in the 1960s. If staying in an overwater bungalow is on your bucket list, your best bet is in French Polynesia.
Flights to French Polynesia and on to Australia and New Zealand
All international flights to French Polynesia first land in Tahiti. United Airlines departs three times a week from San Francisco. Air Tahiti Nui departs an almost daily flight from Los Angeles, and Air France departs approximately three times a week from Los Angeles. It takes approximately 8.5 hours to get to Tahiti from the United States. To get to Bora Bora, you’ll have to travel on another one hour flight once you arrive in Tahiti.
There is a 5.5 hour non-stop flight from Tahiti to Auckland, New Zealand, approximately six times a week on either Air New Zealand or Air Tahiti Nui. There is not a non-stop flight from Tahiti to Australia, but there are many daily flights from Auckland to Australia.
French Polynesia is in the same time zone as Hawaii, but it’s across the International Date Line from Australia and New Zealand. If you fly from Tahiti to Auckland, you will arrive one day after you depart. If you fly from Auckland to Tahiti, you will lose a day. If you fly from Auckland to Tahiti, you must reserve your hotel for the night before you depart. For example, if you depart Tahiti on January 1st, you will arrive on December 31st, so you will have to reserve your first night’s stay on December 31st. You can technically celebrate New Year twice.
The 15 small islands that make up the Cook Islands feature white sand, clear water, and lush scenery. The Cook Islands tout that they are like Hawaii was 60 years ago, and over-tourism does not exist on Cook Island. All resorts are small and quaint as the islands do not have the big-name resorts or any building taller than a palm tree. The Cook Islands offer an average temperature of 85°F all year long. The whale watching season is from July to October when humpback whales can often be seen popping up from the ocean.
Flights to the Cook Islands and on to Australia and New Zealand
Air New Zealand has a weekly, nonstop 9.5 hour flights departing every Saturday night from Los Angeles to Rarotonga. Air New Zealand has daily 4.5 hour flights from Rarotonga to Auckland. Jetstar and Virgin Australia also fly a direct flight throughout the week to Auckland. Air New Zealand has weekly, nonstop flights to Sydney departing every Thursday. If you’re not leaving the Cook Islands on a Thursday, it’s easy enough to hop through Auckland to get to Australia.
It is the same situation in the Cook Islands as French Polynesia with the time-zone. The Cook Islands are in the same time zone as French Polynesia and Hawaii, but it’s across the International Date Line from Australia and New Zealand. If you fly from the Cook Islands to New Zealand or Australia, you will arrive one day later. If you fly from New Zealand or Australia to the Cook Islands, you lose a day. If you fly from Auckland to the Cook Islands, you must reserve your hotel for the night before you depart.
There are so many different activities and diverse sceneries in Hawaii – it’s like multiple destinations in one. On Oahu, catch waves, hike, snorkel, or visit Pearl Harbor. On the Big Island, view the lava in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the night sky from Mauna Kea. In Kauai, view the “Grand Canyon” of Hawaii, see the lush rainforest and beaches, and in Maui, view a stunning sunrise on top of Haleakala. If your visit is during whale watch season – November through May – you can view the often active humpback whales even from shore.
Flights to Hawaii and on to Australia and New Zealand
Many airports across the United States offer direct flights to the Hawaiian Islands. To give you an idea of the time it takes to get to Honolulu, it is 8.5 hours from Dallas, 5 to 6 hours from California, nine from Chicago, ten from Atlanta, and 11 from New York. There are 9-hour flights 1 to 4 times a week (depending on the season) from Honolulu to Auckland on Air New Zealand and Hawaiian Airlines. To get to Australia from Hawaii, there are daily 10.5 hour flights from Honolulu to Sydney on either Hawaiian Airlines, Jetstar, or Qantas.
Los Angeles is home to beaches, famous streets, excellent museums, and shopping. There are some fantastic luxury hotels you can visit less than an hour’s drive from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). You can relax for a night or two before the long-haul flight to Australia or New Zealand. From many parts of the country, you have to go through LAX to get to Australia & New Zealand anyway. Sometimes you can find better flight deals from LAX than booking from other places around the country. It’s always a bad idea to fly on separate tickets on the same day (in case of flight or baggage delays), so it could save you money in the long-run to stop for a night in Los Angeles.
Getting to Australia and New Zealand from Los Angeles
There are daily non-stop flights from LAX to Auckland. To get to Australia from LAX, there are daily flights to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.