I have cousins in New Zealand, so I’ve always wanted to visit, so we decided to use all the miles we hoarded during the pandemic and finally go. Here’s the price break-down of how much that trip cost and a few tips for if you’re planning a trip yourself. All costs are in US dollars.

Accommodations for 22 nights – $2,044.20 ($1,218.68 of it was 3 nights in Queenstown). Tip: Have relatives in New Zealand and have friends that live with a view of Harbor Bridge so you can watch the New Year’s fireworks from their balcony. 😉 This was seriously a fill-the-bucket list item. It was INCREDIBLE.

New Year's Eve Harbor Bridge Sydney

For reals though, Queenstown during the holidays was expensive because that’s the local travel destination. Everything else was reasonably priced (again, we had free accommodations in Sydney, which definitely helped).

All flights for 5 people: 570,200 airline points, $4,613.59 (since holiday tickets from Anchorage to Oceania were nearly $2,500 each, I think we did pretty good). Here are the details of that:

  • Vancouver to Auckland – 4 tickets purchased by transferring Chase points to United and booking Air Canada (44k + $79.98 per ticket for a total of 176,000 Chase points and $319.92). We needed one more ticket, so we transferred Chase directly to Air Canada for the fifth ticket (91,700 points plus $75).
  • Then we had to get to Vancouver from Anchorage – Alaska miles for 3 tickets (30k plus $5.60 each for a total of 90k Alaska miles plus $16.80). Cash + companion pass for two tickets: $811.17
  • Sydney to Anchorage: 5 tickets on American for 42,500 miles plus $88.07 each for a total of 212,500 American points and $440.35 cash.
  • Auckland to Christchurch (on the busiest NZ domestic travel day – Dec. 23) x 5: $338.56 total
  • Queenstown to Sydney (on New Year’s Eve) x 5: $1,115.05 total
  • Sydney to Cairns (roundtrip) x 5: $1,496.74


This is just a handful of highlights, with tips and costs (in USD):

  • Glowworm Caves – I highly recommend seeing glowworms in NZ. I also recommend you get the double cave pack and see both the Glowworm cave and Ruakuri cave, which is actually much cooler but has less glow worms. I also recommend doing the Ruakuri bush walk after dark. It’s free and there are glowworms everywhere! – $219.78 (for both caves)
  • Great Barrier Reef – an amazing day-long boat trip stopping at three snorkeling locations – $511.63
  • Flightseeing to Milford Sound (we only did this because I had a high school friend that owned the company and gave us a family discount, but no regrets. It was GORGEOUS) – $1231.29
Milord Sound
  • Skyrail Cairns – I really enjoyed seeing the rainforest this way. We took the historic train up and the Skyrail back down and the ticket included both, which means we got to see the rainforest at the ground level and then from above the canopy – $261.74

All in all, it was an AMAZING trip, even though my kids were mad we left Alaska during Christmas (it is quite Christmassy up here) and my oldest wouldn’t let me hear the end of making her miss finals to leave the country.