Covid-19: Northland holiday fun planned, despite being cut off by level 3 Auckland

Northlanders looking for fun in the upcoming school holidays will either have to take a direct flight out of the region or look for new local attractions.

Northland is at coronavirus alert level 2, but is isolated from the rest of the country by the alert level 3 restrictions in Auckland, which are not expected to lift until at least 11.59pm on October 5.

Travel through Auckland either out of or into Northland is restricted to business or limited personal reasons – such as caring for children or pets, or attending a funeral – causing confusion for many.


Sunair Aviation says demand for its direct flights from Whangārei to Hamilton and Tauranga have increased since the Covid-19 restrictions left Northland isolated.

Sunair/Supplied

Sunair Aviation says demand for its direct flights from Whangārei to Hamilton and Tauranga have increased since the Covid-19 restrictions left Northland isolated.

A holiday is specifically not a reason to travel through Auckland, which could put paid to some plans for the school holidays, starting on October 2.

:
* Covid-19: Northland businesses struggling after being marooned by Auckland
* Covid-19: Northland leaders want more than just business travel through Auckland
* New temporary Air NZ flights to connect Whangārei and Wellington

Tania Burt, Northland Inc general manager destination, said the restrictions are impacting Northland’s tourism sector, which relies on the Auckland market, as well as visitors from further south.

Northland Inc general manager destination Tania Burt says Northlanders have to make the most of the situation by backing local businesses. (File photo)

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Northland Inc general manager destination Tania Burt says Northlanders have to make the most of the situation by backing local businesses. (File photo)

“Unsurprisingly, it’s a very tough time for businesses in the visitor industry.

“It was hoped that Auckland would be free to move and people able to travel through the region for the whole of the school holidays; but, as that’s not possible, we have to make the most of what we have,” Burt said.

“The visitor industry is looking forward to the day when Auckland and those south of Auckland are able to visit us again. We know many people in Auckland feel the same.”

Flights connect Northland with country

Wellington is one place easy for Northlanders to get to, with direct flights from Kerikeri and Whangārei. (File photo)

ROSA WOODS/Stuff

Wellington is one place easy for Northlanders to get to, with direct flights from Kerikeri and Whangārei. (File photo)

While both driving and flying through Auckland is limited at the moment, there are some direct flights linking Northland with other level 2 areas.

Air New Zealand has offered flights between Wellington and Kerikeri since September 13, with high demand since the flights launched.

Available flights start from $222 to $400, depending on day of travel.

The national carrier has also decided to offer direct flights from Whangārei to Wellington for the start of the school holidays, with available flights starting from $184 to $320.

Sunair Aviation is able to offer charter flights as well as its scheduled flights in and out of Whangārei.

Sunair/Supplied

Sunair Aviation is able to offer charter flights as well as its scheduled flights in and out of Whangārei.

Tauranga-based Sunair Aviation has also added extra flights to its schedule in and out of Whangārei.

It offers flights between Whangārei and Tauranga for $395, or between Whangārei and Hamilton for $495.

Marketing manager Lisa Bryce​ said the small company has been busy since the restrictions cut off Northland, with demand for both business and personal travel.

For animal lovers, Sunair also offers an opportunity to take pets, with costs ranging from free for pets under 10kg, to up to $160 for larger dogs.

Who says dogs can't come on holiday when you’re flying? Sunair allows pets to fly too. (File photo)

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Who says dogs can’t come on holiday when you’re flying? Sunair allows pets to fly too. (File photo)

Bryce said small dogs are the most common pet transported on board, but the airline gets the odd cat and has even flown ducklings.

The company also offers charter flights, connecting Northland directly with the rest of New Zealand.

These range in price from $600 an hour to $1400 an hour, depending on the number of travellers and the type of aircraft required, with extra charges if the pilot needs to stay overnight.

Plenty of Northland attractions for young and old

Pompallier Mission tour guide Julie Todd explains the workings of an original printing press, brought to New Zealand by French missionaries. (File photo)

Gerard Hindmarsh/Stuff

Pompallier Mission tour guide Julie Todd explains the workings of an original printing press, brought to New Zealand by French missionaries. (File photo)

Burt said the school holidays provide the perfect opportunity to back local businesses and enjoy what is offered in Northlanders’ own backyard.

Northland Inc destination content specialist Lisa Cunningham has been reviewing the attractions and promoting them to locals who think they may have seen it all.

Her top picks include visiting the Takehe Waterfall east of Whangārei, exploring for glow-worms at Waipū Caves, and admiring the Moreton Bay fig in Pahi, which dates back to 1865.

But when pressed, Cunningham said Northland’s standout local attractions are the eight Tohu Whenua historic sites, including Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Rangihoua Heritage Park and Ruapekapeka Pā.

Her personal favourite is Pompallier Mission, New Zealand’s only surviving pioneer printery and tannery.

“It was really cool and quite inspiring … I think kids will love it too.”