I'm trying to get a group of people from the US to Tauranga, NZ. Trying to book this as a single itinerary is very expensive and/or incurs large layovers and awkward routings. So I was thinking booking the Auckland to Tauranga leg separately. These are inexpensive and go frequently.

Flights from the US arrive in AKL around 9:00am. If I understand correctly, all passengers would have to clear immigration, grab bags, clear customs, transfer to the domestic terminal, check in with Air New Zealand, clear security and go to the gate.

Does anyone has recently done this, has any idea how long this typically takes (I'll add safety margin myself), what the specific risk factors are, and whether they are any Covid related checks/process that may further delay things?

  • 1
    Clearing customs is going to be your big timesink there - Ive breezed through customs in 5 minutes, or got stuck in there for an hour before.
    – user29788
    Aug 11, 2022 at 19:45
  • 2
    My real suggestion is, why fly? Tauranga is like a 2.5 hour drive from Auckland airport - hire a bus.
    – user29788
    Aug 11, 2022 at 19:48

2 Answers 2


Im going to turn one of my comments into an answer, specifically a frame challenge answer.

Why fly?

Auckland to Tauranga is a 2.5 hour drive, you could easily hire a bus to take a large group, or a taxi to take a smaller group, and not have to worry about any of your concerns. And I bet it would cost less.

Given you are probably going to waste a good chunk of 2.5 hours walking down to the domestic terminal, going through check in and baggage drop, and then security, and then have to wait for the flight - you could already be on the road, seeing a lot of NZ as you go.

The route you would drive is very scenic, you would take the State Highway 1 south through Waikato, and then SH29 over the Kaimai range, which is amazing.

If you wanted to break it up, you could stop at Hobbiton along the way, its a 10 minute detour from your route.

  • That's is one of the options I'm currently looking at as well. I'm just evaluatingall of them and want to understand how they would look like.
    – Hilmar
    Aug 11, 2022 at 20:41
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    @Hilmar one thing to consider is that Air New Zealand is very unreliable right now on domestic flights - lots of cancellations at last minute.
    – user29788
    Aug 11, 2022 at 20:47
  • rnz.co.nz/news/national/472715/…
    – user29788
    Aug 11, 2022 at 21:06
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    Additionally, the planes from Auckland to Tauranga (my home town) are often small planes - no room for carry-on, single seat either side of the aisle.
    – Midavalo
    Aug 11, 2022 at 22:56
  • Thanks, that's helpful info
    – Hilmar
    Aug 12, 2022 at 18:23

As you rightly say in your question, any domestic connection from an international arrival at Auckland airport consists of several steps:

  • immigration
  • baggage claim
  • customs
  • self transfer to the domestic terminal
  • checkin and baggage drop
  • security

The biggest time sinks in that list are baggage claim and customs on the arrival side, as it very much depends on what other flights have arrived at the same time as yours.

I have breezed through baggage claim and customs in 15 minutes, and I have also been stuck there for more than an hour before. You really cant tell before hand what its going to be.

I have never flown domestically, but security in the international terminal for me has always been a 10 minute process.

Self transfer to the domestic terminal is easy enough - come out of arrivals, turn right, walk the length of the international terminal, cross a road and you are at the domestic terminal. Probably a 15 minute walk.

But there are other considerations - Air New Zealand right now is unreliable because of staffing shortages, with both domestic and international flights cancelled at a moments notice - the staffing shortages also means theres no one really to help you get a refund or alternative routing either. You could arrive into NZ to find your domestic flight delayed by 24 hours or cancelled altogether. Its a right mess at the moment.

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