New Zealand: South Pacific's Own Version of California - United Hub

New Zealand: South Pacific's own version of California

By Bob Cooper

The comparisons between New Zealand and California are inescapable. Both are long and narrow with Pacific coastlines that seamlessly combine cliffs and beaches. Both boast some of the world's most spectacular national parks in the mountains and some of the most prized wine regions in the hills and valleys.

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Some similarities are flip-flopped, because NZ straddles the 38th parallel south of the equator while California is on the 38th parallel north. That's why New Zealand's North Island shares Southern California's warm, dry climate and the South Island shares Northern California's cooler, wetter climate. That may also be why New Zealand's two largest cities (Auckland and Wellington) are in the sunny north, while California's (L.A. and San Diego) are in the south.

There are differences, too, and they favor New Zealand. Although it's about two-thirds the size of California, NZ is only about one-tenth as crowded (4.5 million compared to 40 million people). And NZ is surrounded on all four sides, not just one, by the Pacific.

But don't take our word for it — visit New Zealand to make your own comparisons and with new nonstop service between Auckland and Chicago, New Zealand is even easier to get to. Starting November 30, Air New Zealand will operate nonstop service between Auckland and Chicago, and vice versa three times weekly on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. And beginning in April 2019, we will extend our service between San Francisco and Auckland to year-round with service three times weekly on the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft between November and March, and on the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft between April and October. Now that you have your travel plans set, read on for what to do while you're there.

Skyline view of Auckland

Auckland highlights

From the 1,076-foot-high Sky Tower that dominates the Auckland skyline, you'll behold a city bordered by bays and peppered with parks. Locals take full advantage by sailing in the city's two harbors (Auckland is the “City of Sails") and participating in almost every other type of water and land sport — especially rugby, cricket, golf and tennis, all imports from the British who founded New Zealand.

Auckland's literal high points besides the Sky Tower include Mount Eden, Mount Victoria and One Tree Hill, three of the dozens of small dormant volcanoes with 360-degree views that punctuate the city. Another is Auckland Harbour Bridge across Waitemata Harbour, where you can climb the span or bungee off. Additional Auckland attractions include the Auckland Museum and Auckland Art Gallery; the family-friendly New Zealand Maritime Museum and Sea Life Aquarium; and sprawling Cornwall Park, where cricket enthusiasts share the grass with sheep.

Wellington and Christchurch

These two coastal cities south of Auckland are each about a quarter of the population of Auckland, making them favorites of visitors who prefer compact cities. In the capital city of Wellington, most attractions are along the waterfront promenade, always teeming with walkers and runners, while others are in the steep hills. Be sure to visit the Museum of New Zealand and ride the Wellington Cable Car. Christchurch is still recovering from the big 2011 earthquake, but the Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park are still lush and lovely, and Quake City at the Canterbury Museum is both educational and moving as it chronicles the devastation of the quake and the rebuilding efforts.

Aerial view of a part of New Zealand and the South Island Mountains

South Island Mountains

New Zealand may be best known for its mountain hiking, known to the locals as tramping. The highest peaks are in the Southern Alps, topped by 12,218 foot Mount Cook, but surely the most famous hike is the Milford Track — so popular that reservations are required to tackle the 33 mile hut-to-hut walk through glacially carved mountain passes, fjords, majestic waterfalls and rainforests in Fiordland National Park. But you needn't hike at all to appreciate the beauty of New Zealand's mountains. Driving past them or through them, such as the drive to Milford Sound where the Track begins, or to Mount Cook Village, does the trick.

Beaches and volcanoes

Stellar surfing and sunbathing beaches are found throughout the country, even in Auckland, although keep in mind that “beach weather" is more likely on North Island. NZ's Volcanic Zone, however, is concentrated in one North Island region, not far from Auckland. It's there, especially in Tongariro National Park, that you'll discover recently erupted volcanoes, lava flows, steaming geysers and hissing ponds — plus thermal pools, springs and baths in the towns of Rotorua and Taupo. You may recognize some of this region's mountains, where the hiking is nearly as splendid as on the South Island, from scenes in “The Lord of the Rings" movies.

A sheep in a field of grass in the countryside

Towns, villages… and sheep

Sheep are everywhere in New Zealand, even in the cities. You can even observe them being herded and sheared at SheepWorld near Auckland, but mostly you'll see them in the countryside while driving between cities and national parks, such as on one of NZ's 10 themed highways. You'll also go past farms, vineyards, mountains, coastline and dense wilderness. But don't drive straight through. Your fondest NZ memories after the trip may be of conversations with locals at a village café over coffee or a country pub over a Double Brown beer.

Fine wine

New Zealand's 14 wine regions blanket the east coast of both islands, but the Marlborough region near Blenheim at the top of South Island has the most wineries, including dozens that offer tastings. This region's Sauvignon Blancs are internationally acclaimed. While you're in the area, you should also stop by the charming town of Nelson and visit Abel Tasman National Park, a marvelous mix of rainforest paths and beaches.

Fresh fish

Sauvignon Blanc pairs nicely with fish — and that's a good thing, because New Zealand fishermen operate in the sixth-largest fishing zone in the world, making seafood a NZ specialty. While myriad fish choices fill menus in coastal restaurants, expect a wide variety of cuisines (often broadly called “Pacific Rim cuisine") in the cities. That's especially true in Auckland, where nearly half of residents are non-natives from China, India, Fiji, Samoa and elsewhere. Wherever you dine, the food was probably grown or raised locally because importing ingredients is expensive — the nearest continent, Australia, is 1,300 miles away.

Sailboats docked alongside the small island, Waiheke

Additional islands

Besides New Zealand's two main islands, smaller islands off their shores are a treat to visit. The largest (about the size of Maui) is Rakiura/Stewart Island, a one-hour ferry ride from the southern tip of South Island, where a national park occupies 80 percent of the land. NZ's most populous small island (pop. 9,000) is Waiheke, a 45-minute ferry ride from Auckland, which features forest trails, beaches, restaurants and wineries.

Practicalities

Don't forget that the seasons are reversed in New Zealand, so their “summer" starts in December. Plan a trip between November and April to enjoy mild temperatures and to avoid too many rainy days. When you arrive, driving a rental car is the best way to see the country. (You'll soon get used to driving on the left side.) And driving won't be tortuous within the country because there are no “boring" stretches of road — and a scenic, 3 1/2-hour Interislander or Bluebridge car ferry connects Wellington and Picton, letting you travel freely between North and South Islands.

If you go

Service between San Francisco and Auckland operates three times weekly with year-round nonstop service launching in April of 2019. Starting November 30 of this year, Air New Zealand will operate service between Auckland and Chicago, and vice versa three times weekly. Air New Zealand code share service will be offered on around 100 flights across the U.S. for convenient connections to Auckland via Chicago. Visit united.com or use the United app to plan your trip.

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United Cargo moving more medical supplies and PPE

By Matt Adams, April 08, 2020

As the COVID-19 crisis has evolved, United's cargo operation has emerged as a critical conduit for getting life-saving goods where they're needed most.

Last week, we helped Flexport.org, the social impact arm of a freight forwarder based in San Francisco, import two shipments of medical and personal protective equipment (PPE) destined for New York and California. The first of those loads arrived in San Francisco from Shanghai aboard a chartered United Boeing 787-9 on Wednesday. It contained 1,000 ventilators, 70,000 goggles and 300,000 masks, all of which were donated by Alibaba cofounder and Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai and his wife, Clara Wu Tsai. Those items were then put on a United 777 and flown to EWR, where they were distributed to 14 hospitals, medical centers and nursing homes in the New York City region.

The second shipment came into San Francisco the following day containing surgical gowns, hazmat suits and several million more masks for first responders in California. United employees unloaded that aircraft upon arrival and helped get the PPE onto trucks for delivery to Bay Area hospitals.

We are operating, on average, 20 cargo-only flights each day between six U.S. hubs and cities in Asia, Australia, Europe and the Middle East. In the process of doing so, we are moving thousands of pounds of medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and PPE, in addition to those mentioned above, to help stem the spread of COVID-19 and treat those afflicted.

Domestic and international schedule reductions

By The Hub team, April 07, 2020

While travel demand and government restrictions continue to impact our schedule, we know some people around the globe are displaced and still need to get home. We continue to operate dozens of repatriation flights in an effort to get customers where they need to be. This remains a fluid situation, but United continues to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world, especially in these challenging times. Learn more about what we're doing to keep customers and employees safe.

Flights continuing from now into May:

Atlantic

Operating:

  • New York/Newark – Frankfurt (Flights 960/961)
  • New York/Newark – London (Flights 16/17)
  • New York/Newark – Tel Aviv (Flights 90/91)

Pacific

Operating:

  • San Francisco – Tokyo-Narita (Flights 837/838)
  • San Francisco – Sydney (Flights 863/870
  • Select Guam routes, including daily Guam – Honolulu (Flights 200/201)

Latin America/South America

Operating:
  • Houston – Sao Paulo (1x daily)
  • Houston – Cancun (3x daily)
  • Houston – Mexico City and Monterrey (2x daily)
  • Houston – Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos (1x daily)
Suspended:
  • All other hub flying to Mexico is canceled.

Caribbean

We are suspending all remaining Caribbean service: NAS (Nassau, Bahamas) through May 3, SJU (San Juan) and STT (St. Thomas) April 7 – May 3 (at the earliest).

Canada

  • All flying to Canada is suspended.

To help with the uncertainty around future travel — be it summer vacations, conferences, events and more — customers now have until April 30 to make changes to, or cancel, any travel they have booked through the end of the year without fees. This is in addition to existing waivers already in place which allow customers to change or cancel plans for travel through May 31.

Please visit united.com for more information, or reference our step-by-step guide on how to change your flight, cancel and rebook later.

Domestic schedule

We have taken every opportunity to continue offering service to as many airports as possible through other United hubs as we have reduced our domestic flying. Effective April 8, we will suspend service between the mainland and Hilo, Maui, Kona and Lihue - and we will maintain our daily service between our San Francisco hub and Honolulu, which has been reduced to one flight daily. We will continue to operate daily service between Honolulu and Guam. These suspensions will run through April 22.

We are closely monitoring demand as well as changes in state and local curfews and government restrictions across the U.S. and will adjust our schedule accordingly.

Hub city Route suspensions Remaining service
Chicago Albuquerque, NM
Asheville, NC
Bismarck/Mandan, ND
Bozeman, MT
Eugene, OR
Fresno, CA
Hilton Head, SC
Honolulu, HI
Jackson, MS
Kahului, HI
Kearney, NE
Palm Springs, CA
Panama City, FL
Reno, NV
San Jose, CA
Spokane, WA
Valparaiso, FL
Wilmington, NC
DEN, IAH
IAD
DEN
DEN
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
IAD
SFO
IAH
Market Suspension
DEN
DEN, SFO
IAH
DEN, SFO
DEN
DEN
IAH
IAD
New York/Newark Appleton, WI
Arcata/Eureka, CA
Charleston, SC
Grand Rapids, MI
Hartford, CT
Hobbs, NM
Honolulu, HI
Jacksonville, FL
Kahului, HI
Kona, HI
Lihue, HI
New York, NY (LaGuardia)
Santa Rosa, CA
Shreveport, LA
Syracuse, NY
ORD
SFO
IAD, IAH, ORD
ORD
IAD, ORD
IAH
SFO
IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
ORD
SFO
IAH
IAD, ORD
Houston Akron/Canton, OH
Boise, ID
Grand Rapids, MI
Hartford, CT
Honolulu, HI
Lexington, KY
New York, NY (LaGuardia)
Norfolk, VA
Ontario, CA
Palm Springs, CA
Reno, NV
Richmond, VA
San Jose, CA
St Louis, MO
ORD
DEN, ORD, SFO
ORD
IAD, ORD
SFO
IAD, ORD
ORD
DEN, IAD, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAD, ORD
DEN
DEN, IAD, ORD
Los Angeles Arcata/Eureka, CA
Austin, TX
Baltimore, DC
Bend/Redmond, OR
Boise, ID
Boston, MA
Bozeman, MT
Cleveland, OH
Colorado Springs, CO
Eugene, OR
Fresno, CA
Hilo, HI
Honolulu, HI
Kahului, HI
Kona, HI
Las Vegas, NV
Lihue, HI
Madison, WI
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Medford, OR
Monterey, CA
Orlando, FL
Palm Springs, CA
Phoenix, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Redding, CA
Reno, NV
Sacramento, CA
Salt Lake City, UT
San Antonio, TX
San Diego, CA
San Luis Obispo, CA
Santa Barbara, CA
Seattle, WA
St George, UT
Stockton, CA
SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
Market Suspension
SFO
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
Market Suspension
DEN, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN
SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN
Market Suspension
New York/Newark Akron/Canton, OH
Albany, NY
Atlanta, GA
Austin, TX
Bangor, ME
Boston, MA
Buffalo, NY
Burlington, VT
Charleston, SC
Charlotte, NC
Cincinnati, OH
Cleveland, OH
Columbus, OH
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
Detroit, MI
Fayetteville, AR
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Fort Myers, FL
Grand Rapids, MI
Greensboro, NC
Greenville, SC
Hilton Head, SC
Honolulu, HI
Indianapolis, IN
Jacksonville, FL
Kansas City, MO
Key West, FL
Knoxville, TN
Las Vegas, NV
Louisville, KY
Madison, WI
Memphis, TN
Miami, FL
Milwaukee, WI
Minneapolis, MN
Myrtle Beach, SC
Nashville, TN
New Orleans, LA
Norfolk, VA
Omaha, NE
Orange County, CA
Orlando, FL
Phoenix, AZ
Pittsburgh, PA
Portland, ME
Portland, OR
Presque Isle, ME
Providence, RI
Raleigh/Durham, NC
Richmond, VA
Rochester, NY
Sacramento, CA
Salt Lake City, UT
San Antonio, TX
San Diego, CA
Sarasota, FL
Savannah, GA
Seattle, WA
St Louis, MO
Syracuse, NY
Tampa, FL
Washington, DC (Reagan National)
West Palm Beach, FL
ORD
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
IAD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
IAD, ORD
IAD, ORD
IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
ORD
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
IAD
SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
IAD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
IAD
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, ORD
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, ORD
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
IAD, IAH, ORD
San Francisco Albuquerque, NM
Atlanta, GA
Austin, TX
Baltimore, DC
Boston, MA
Bozeman, MT
Cleveland, OH
Columbus, OH
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
Detroit, MI
Fayetteville, AR
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Indianapolis, IN
Kahului, HI
Kansas City, MO
Kona, HI
Lihue, HI
Madison, WI
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Minneapolis, MN
Nashville, TN
New Orleans, LA
Oklahoma City, OK
Omaha, NE
Orlando, FL
Philadelphia, PA
Pittsburgh, PA
Raleigh/Durham, NC
San Antonio, TX
Spokane, WA
St Louis, MO
Tampa, FL
DEN, IAH
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
DEN, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN
DEN, IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
Washington-Dulles Austin, TX
Grand Rapids, MI
Honolulu, HI
New York, NY (LaGuardia)
Portland, OR
Sacramento, CA
DEN, IAH, ORD
ORD
SFO
ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO

Working to bring people home – repatriation flights underway

By The Hub team, April 07, 2020

When and where possible, we are working to repatriate travelers who are stranded abroad in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Our teams are working closely with government officials here in the U.S. as well as in other countries where flying has been restricted to gain the necessary approvals to operate service. In regions where government actions have barred international flying, we have coordinated with the the U.S. State Department and local government officials to re-instate some flights. Additionally, we have been operating several extra flights to countries in Central America and South America as we continue to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world.

We have operated more than 85 repatriation flights from Panama City, Guatemala City, Quito, Lima, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Roatan, bringing nearly 12,000 people home. We will continue working with government officials to operate extra flights to Houston from Quito, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and from Lima to Washington Dulles and beginning April 5, we will begin operating multiple charter flights between Delhi and San Francisco. We continue to review more opportunities for flights between the United States and other countries to bring citizens home.

Video provided by the U.S. Embassy Ecuador of Americans returning home on United.

Additionally, our Customer Solutions and Recovery team is working with customers in the following markets to rebook them on flights back to the United States as capacity allows, either on our aircraft or on one of our airline partners' planes:

  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Managua, Nicaragua
  • Roatan, Honduras
  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras
  • Amsterdam
  • Brussels
  • Munich
  • Singapore
  • Tokyo-Haneda
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Melbourne, Australia

We also recently reinstated several international flights back into our schedule to support customers and essential businesses which depend on these routes. As a result, we will be the only airline to offer service between Newark/New York and London, San Francisco and Sydney, as well as Houston and São Paulo, Brazil.

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