Skymiles to New Zealand with Virgin Australia

I had many wonderful experiences on my trip to New Zealand and Australia in late 2011.  I got to experience V Australia's service and really maximized the value out of a Delta Skymiles redemption. 


Split apple rock, Abel-Tasman National Park


Since have a lot of blog content relating to my trip, I wanted to organize them all into one place as well as wrap up my thoughts on this great trip.



Trip routing: MKE-MSP-LAX-SYD, (SYD-CNS-SYD on a seperate ticket), SYD-MEL-AKL, ZQN-CHC, CHC-MEL, MEL-SYD-LAX-MSP-MKE.


Trip planning

Introduction and Delta First Class from MKE-MSP-LAX


Dusk near LAX at the In-N-Out on Sepulveda


Killing some time in and around LAX during a layover


Bed mode in VA Business Class


V Australia Business Class from LAX to SYD


Dessert on VA from LAX-SYD


V Australia Business Class dinner service


The Sydney Harbour Bridge with the Park Hyatt under construction in the foreground.



Sydney layover and Virgin Australia to Cairns

Some early photos



Scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef with Spirit of Freedom



Executive Suite at the Westin Sydney

CNS-SYD and a suite at the Westin Sydney



Virgin Australia Business Class on 737-800

Virgin Australia SYD-MEL-AKL including lounges


Hilton Auckland on Princes Wharf


Hilton Auckland review


Hilton Lake Taupo






Hilton Lake Taupo review

Exploring Wellington and a ferry to the south island


natural beauty of the South Island

Touring the south island


Lakes and mountains surrounding Queenstown

Deluxe lakeview room at the Hilton Queenstown


Mountainous surroundings of Queenstown Airport

Flying Jetstar ZQN-CHC and touring Christchurch


Air New Zealand A320 Economy Class




Air New Zealand CHC-MEL

Venting about some issues with Virgin Australia


Lobby of the Park Hyatt Melbourne

Touring Melbourne and Park Hyatt Melbourne review


Virgin Australia Lounge in Melbourne


Virgin Australia Lounge in Melbourne and flying MEL-SYD

Sydney arrival, V Australia check in departure lounge



Breakfast on V Australia SYD-LAX

V Australia Business Class from SYD to LAX


After arriving back in LAX, customs was quite fast in Terminal 5, there were no other flights arriving at this time.  Our connecting flight flight to MSP was departing out of terminal 6, so we took the infamous connector tunnel.  This saves having to leave the secure area and reclearing in terminal 6. 


That's somewhat frightening, but presumably its part of the security procedure.  The doors would automatically close if the airport goes on lockdown. 

I haven't visited T6 in a while, and it was even more cramped and messy than usual with the RE:LAX construction projects going on. 

The 767-300 to Minneapolis was delayed due to very un-LA like cold rainy weather.  The boarding area was quite cramped. 


Not very RE:LAXing conditions in T6

In all, we had a wonderful trip.  On any trip with many stops along the way its going to be a mixed bag.  There were some great flights, some not so good flights.  Across the board, we did pretty well with hotels.  I no longer use Hilton as one of my primary hotel chains, but I was very impressed with their offerings in New Zealand.  Virgin Australia's long haul business class is a nice product, and a great value when redeemed with Delta Skymiles. 







Thanks for sharing your trip with us, Brad--I really enjoyed this report.

I've got to get to Queenstown...

One time I was in the tunnel between 5 and 6 taking pictures of that sign and it went into lockdown! Seriously, that was frightening. I figured I triggered it--what the heck is this guy doing down here taking pictures. Metal gates come down at three different points after about 10 seconds of siren. I ran for the Delta terminal and made it out!