Update: latest update: 1523 NZ time, Wednesday
Christchurch Airport is open for international flights after yesterday's earthquake, with Australia expected to be the principal destination for flights out of the region.
The airport's most recent statement at 1036 NZ time on Wednesday says that the airport "will open for international flights at their revised schedule times this afterrnoon. Check-in opens starting from 12pm."
Travellers should check departure times with their airline and get to the airport with plenty of time -- and be prepared for a wait.
Airport car parks are free all day on Wednesday 23 February, and the airport is also providing free Wi-Fi internet within the terminal.
Flights out of Christchurch
To get to Wellington, Air New Zealand has provided extra flights on A320 and 737 aircraft from Christchurch airport. (Air New Zealand is also sending large 747 and 777 aircraft to and from Auckland, from where connections to Wellington are availalble.)
Air New Zealand is offering emergency NZ$50 fares between Christchurch and any other New Zealand airport until Friday 25 February. This fare can be booked online or by calling Air New Zealand: 0800 737 000 within NZ or, from overseas, +64 9 357 3000.
Compassionate fares are also on offer for "immediate family" to fly to Christchurch. We understand that Air NZ's usual compassionate fare rules are in effect: check if your particular circumstances qualify.
From Australia and the Pacific Islands, the compassionate fares are NZ$50 -- just like internal New Zealand fares. International long-haul fares from outside these regions are NZ$400. These aren't available online, so ring the Air New Zealand call centre: 0800 737 000 within NZ or, from abroad, +64 9 357 3000.
Most airlines will waive change fees on Christchurch tickets, even if fares are otherwise non-refundable. We've contacted airlines and have a full list of airline change fee policies for Christchurch passengers.
Ferries across the Cook Strait
Christchurch, on the South Island, is several hundred kilometres south of Wellington. Two ferry companies, Bluebridge and Interislander, run ships from Picton to Wellington.
Australian Business Traveller spoke with a Bluebridge Ferry representative who confirmed special reduced rates for people coming north from Christchurch: $60 per car, plus $25 per adult and $10 per child.
Read more comprehensive coverage of the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake, plus authoritative advice for travellers in the area and overseas.
- Christchurch airport is open for some international flights, plus arrangements are in place for Australians who have lost passports.
- Many extra flights and special fares have been arranged by Air New Zealand.
- We spoke to the Australian High Commission and DFAT to get advice for Australians in Christchurch who need consular assistance.
- Airlines have waived change fees for many tickets to and from Christchurch: full details and how to get the fees waived.