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How to Travel Between Japan and New Zealand

On the surface, Japan and New Zealand appear to have a lot in common. Namely that they’re both island countries with stunning natural beauty, which have gone through alternating periods of isolation and conquest throughout their long histories.

But there are a lot of key differences. Japan is one of the world’s most densely-populated countries; New Zealand has more sheep than people. While New Zealand is the picture of ever-changing multiculturalism, Japan has maintained many of the same traditions for millennia.

Regardless, I do think these countries pair well together. So whether you’re traveling from New Zealand to Japan or vice-versa, I think you’ll find this article helpful.

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How Do I Get from New Zealand to Japan?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the only realistic way from Japan to New Zealand is by air. However, there are more ways to do this than you might imagine. Shockingly, as of mid-2024, there is only one direct flight per day between the countries. As a result, unless you’re willing to pay the price for this convenience, chances are you’ll have to be more creative as you make the journey.

The Air New Zealand flight is the quickest route, leaving you without even the opportunity to play your favorite casino games to pass the time. On the other hand, New Zealanders tend to be pretty intrepid travelers in my experience. They’ll save a few hundred bucks flying indirect, then stay in Thailand or Hong Kong for a few days and add to the adventure.

All the Ways from Japan to New Zealand

Fly nonstop between NRT and AKL


At the time I’m writing this, the only nonstop flight between New Zealand and Japan is Air New Zealand’s service between Auckland and Tokyo-Narita. Operated as NZ99 on the outbound and NZ90 on the inbound, it’s operated by a 787 Dreamliner and takes about 11 hours en route.

Fly via Southeast Asia


This is also an enticing option for Japanese travelers (who love Southeast Asia) bound for New Zealand. Currently, nonstop flights are available to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, via which you can easily connect to Tokyo’s two airports or Osaka-Kansai.

Fly via HKG


Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities in the world, and while it doesn’t make sense for me to connect there on the way to Japan (I’m American, after all), I’d definitely go this way if I were a Kiwi. I’d personally suggest stopping here on the way back and staying 2-3 nights before returning to Auckland or Christchurch.

Fly via Australia


Although there’s vastly increased interest in Japan for New Zealanders, Australia enjoys many more flights per day, with at least one daily nonstop service between Tokyo and Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, as well as seasonal flights to Perth and Cairns. Crossing the ditch, then, is a logical way to start your journey.

Fly via Hawaii


When you live in New Zealand, you’re used to going the long way. So, why not take the scenic route to Japan? Fly via Honolulu and then, whether on the way there or on the back, spend a few days exploring the islands. Actually, my vote is for the way back—why not come back rested?

Why Japan and New Zealand Pair Well Together

As I mentioned in the introduction to this piece, tangible similarities between Japan and New Zealand are actually pretty limited. However, I do think the countries complement each other well. Which is to say if you’re not a Japanese person or a Kiwi reading this—in other words, you aren’t trying to get from home to a holiday destination, or vice-versa—there’s an argument to be made to see both in a single trip.

The most delightful way I can think of doing this would be to fly from Japan to New Zealand in mid-April. Having seen sakura in Japan in late March and early April, you’ll head south right as New Zealand (and especially the South Island) is exploding in autumn foliage, a glorious juxtaposition. Conversely, you could see New Zealand’s lupines in late December and spend New Year’s in Japan split between skiing and shrine visits.

Other FAQ About Travel Between New Zealand and Japan

How far is a flight from Japan to New Zealand?

A nonstop flight between Auckland and Tokyo takes around 11-12 hours, assuming there are no delays and that atmospheric conditions are normal. Your journey time will obviously be longer if you fly indirectly, be that via Australia or somewhere else in Asia.

Is Tokyo close to New Zealand?

Tokyo is nearly as far from New Zealand as it is from many cities in Europe and North America. As a result, while you absolutely could combine Japan and New Zealand in a single trip, I wouldn’t say convenience is a reason to consider doing so. 

What airlines fly from Japan to New Zealand?

As of mid-2024, only Air New Zealand operates nonstop flights between Japan and New Zealand; they only fly once per day at most. While it’s conceivable that a Japanese airline could begin serving New Zealand in the future, there is no official word of this as of yet.

The Bottom Line

There are as many ways to travel from New Zealand to Japan as there are reasons for wanting to go there. This works both ways. As someone who focuses on Japan and spends most of my time there, I never get tired of Aotearoa, whether I’m on the North Island or South Island, and regardless of me being in a busy city CBD or the middle of nowhere. Indeed, while the contrast between urban and rural isn’t quite as great in New Zealand as it is in Japan, I like how it’s present in both countries. Need personalized help planning your trip to Japan? Consider commissioning a custom Japan itinerary.


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