Buenos dias everyone! Back in November, I was able to snag two economy tickets from San Francisco to Auckland, New Zealand for a jaw-dropping $395 per person roundtrip, nonstop on Air New Zealand. (My understanding is tickets twice that price would still be a good deal – right now, the lowest price I see for these flights through the end of 2018 is $1,150). I used Citi Thank You Points from my Citi Prestige Credit Card to book these tickets at a value of 1.25 cents per point (so a little over 63,000 points total).
At first, I avoided making any further plans because I thought the tickets might get canceled – but after a couple of months, I was pretty confident that they would stick. I eventually booked tickets from Mexico City to San Francisco (using American Express Membership Rewards points with the 35% AMEX Platinum Card rebate), and a few days before our trip, I finally started sketching out our plan.
Although some of the details didn’t fall into place until after we were already in New Zealand, here’s what I ended up with:
- Four nights in Auckland
- Four nights in Rotorua
- Four nights in Wellington
- One night in Nelson
- Three nights in Hokitika
- One night in Auckland
I know there’s a lot more to see, especially on the South Island, but based on our travel style I think we covered about as much ground as we could handle for a three week trip. Most of the articles I read about activities in New Zealand were geared towards travelers with rental cars or motorhomes, and that’s how all of my friends who have traveled to the country got around – unfortunately, neither I nor my partner know how to drive.
Luckily, getting around New Zealand without a car isn’t as difficult as it seems – we were able to piece together this itinerary using a combination of InterCity buses, Air New Zealand domestic flights, and a ferry and train operated by KiwiRail. Ultimately the transportation ended up being relatively inexpensive, and the domestic flights would have been even more affordable if I hadn’t waited until the last minute.
As we wrapped up the trip, I’m planning to write about the InterCity bus passes we used, the hotels we stayed at, and share some pictures from some of the places we visited – but please let me know in the comments if there’s anything you’re particularly interested in hearing about!