Getting from Europe to New Zealand means booking about the longest airplane flight possible. There is no way to neglect or sugar-coat it: It’s a damn long and exhausting flight!
During the past years we tried different routes from Munich to Auckland, and sometimes to Christchurch. The shortest one was a bit more than 29 hours, the longest one was 32 hours. Sounds like almost the same, but it really makes a difference, especially when you have multiple stop-overs with boring extra waiting times.
It really depends on how comfortable you are with sleeping in airplanes. While the kids don’t seem to have any issues with that, we usually just get a few hours of light sleep in a period of almost two days. Typical effects of being up for such a long period is extreme tiredness and the floor starts to feel a bit wobbly like it was a kids bouncing castle.
You can’t avoid stopovers
No airline does 18,000 km flights at once. They need stopovers to fill their fuel tanks. The most efficient route we recently found was this 28h trip operated by Emirates:
1. Munich – Dubai: ~6 hours
2. Dubai – Auckland: ~19 hours (with a fuel-stop in Brisbane)
Stopovers should ideally be at least 1.5 hours. You’ll need at least that amount of time in Dubai to get out of the ~500 people A380-airplane on arrival and walk over to your connection gate. But rest assured when searching for flights on the Emirates website it will only show options that are realistic to use without troubles.
Confusing dates and times
Be careful with the displayed dates. If you depart in European afternoon and go eastwards, the arrival date is usually 2 days later, as you skip 10-12 hours via time zones.
Sometimes, the online booking portals are not very smart and let you have an overnight-stopover somewhere in Australia. Try to avoid arriving around midnight with a connection flight in the early morning. Especially when booking flights to Christchurch (which often include codeshare flights from Australia to New Zealand).
Book the whole trip with one airline. That ensures that in the rare case of a delay the airline keeps responsible for getting you to the destination without extra charges. If you book several individual flights, it’s your responsibility to not miss a connection.
Booking flights online is an easy thing, no need for a travel agency really. Check flight comparison portals for available routes and then book directly with the airlines to get the best prices and most direct flow of information.
Cost of a flight from Europe to New Zealand
Prices change frequently and depend on the time of the year as well as one the period you want to book in advance. A last minute return-ticket from Munich to Auckland a few weeks ahead in southern winter season may be available for as low as NZ$2,000/EUR1,200 per person. Children usually have to pay around 80% of the fare.
What’s the best time to visit New Zealand?
If you intend to stay a whole year it doesn’t really matter when you arrive – you’ll see a whole year. We arrived in July, so we could experience a complete seasonal year, and went back when it was easiest: In cold and wet winter time. But the downside of that approach is, that it’s a very hard cut from hot summer/long days to frosty winter/short days. Our bodies needed quite some time to ‘accept’ that sudden change. It just felt wrong to see the sun set that early.
Our recommendation therefore is to either travel in September/October or April/May when day and night times are about the same.
Another approach is to arrive late January in time for the school year starting in the first week of February. It can be easier for the kids to start school on the same day as all the class. You will get the second half of summer before the less active winter months, then another half summer.
If you intend to stay shorter than a full year, make sure you include the summer half-year. It’s just much more pleasant.