Business travellers flying between New Zealand's capital Wellington and the Kiwi economic hub Auckland on a trans-Tasman trip have a new evening flight option -- Air New Zealand's 10pm flights in each direction between the two cities, starting 5 November.
The new "Night Rider" flights mean you can now put in a full day of work and then go out for dinner with colleagues before avoiding rush-hour traffic and heading to the airport at your own pace to head to your next business travel destination.
Before the Night Rider service is introduced, the last Air NZ Auckland-Wellington flights are at 2000 (2100 on a Thursday and 2030 on a Friday). The last Wellington-Auckland flights are at 2030 on weekdays, with an extra 2100 flight on Thursdays and Fridays.
Night Rider seats are a flat NZ$29 (A$23), with a NZ$10 (A$8) bag fee if you need to check luggage. At those prices, it's fair enough that you won't be earning frequent flyer points, but you won't be allowed into the airline's Koru lounges either (since they'll be shut by that time of night).
But Virgin Australia Velocity Gold and Platinum members should still be able to choose the extra-legroom Space+ seats up front on the Boeing 737.
Note that the Night Rider flights won't be running between Christmas and New Year's Day, inclusive.
New travel hack to get from Australia to Wellington
As frequent travellers to the NZ capital know, Wellington flights can be an expensive pain, with only four daily flights from Sydney, plus two each a day from Melbourne and Brisbane -- all on relatively small Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 planes.
Wellington flights fill up fast, especially during big events, and you don't have a lot of choice in flight time. There's also only business class on Qantas' flights (two from Sydney, one from Melbourne) -- and only 12 business seats on each of those planes.
Want to get true business class on flights to NZ -- yes, of course we'll show you how to pick those flights!
But with the new Night Rider flights, you gain extra connection options via Auckland -- and they're often cheaper for business travellers on a budget.
While Air NZ says "Night Rider flights can't be booked as part of a through fare domestically or internationally", business travellers who absolutely, positively need to be in Wellington during a busy period have two new choices: chance a tight unguaranteed connection on an Auckland-bound flight arriving in the evening (like Sydney flight NZ 118/718, arriving 2030) or take an earlier flight and deal with a few hours' layover at Auckland airport.
That layover can be made much more productive if you book yourself a day-only room at the Novotel Auckland Airport right next to the International Terminal. (Prices are currently showing as NZ$135 or A$107 for a day room.) From there it's a ten-minute walk or five-minute bus ride to the domestic terminal.
Read AusBT's review of the Auckland Airport Novotel for what you'll find inside!
If you've only a short layover and don't fancy forking out for a room, the Square restaurant inside the Novotel is great for a bite to eat, and there's a decent bar if you fancy a tipple before heading over to the less well-equipped domestic terminal.
Check out our Auckland airport guide for more on the main New Zealand hub airport!
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About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.