How to Get to Africa from New Zealand

Laura Pattara

Laura Pattara  |  10 April 2024

Dealing with the logistics of a trip to Africa can be overwhelming. Yet what helps is to start at the beginning – and figure out how to get to Africa from New Zealand – and then fill in the dots.

Unless you plan on a (very long) swim, flying is the fastest way to reach Africa! Luckily, various international airlines fly to Africa directly from Auckland International Airport (AKL), so your options are plentiful.

Although all flights are relatively lengthy – it is a very long way to the savannah, there are plenty of options for restful stopovers either on the way or once you arrive.

Its a long flight to see the King of the African jungle but it sure is worthwhile

It’s a long flight to see the King of the African jungle, but it sure is worthwhile


Let’s take a look at the best flight options to Africa. 

Where should I fly to Africa from New Zealand?

When planning a trip to Africa, it’s wise to remember that we’re dealing with a colossal continent that can be easily considered ‘split’ into three distinct regions for touristic purposes: Southern Africa, Eastern Africa, and Northern Africa.

Johannesburg, in South Africa, is generally considered the best springboard for most trips to Africa from New Zealand. However, there are plenty of equally convenient connections if you wish to primarily explore the northern or eastern corners of the continent.

Northern Africa – for amazing culture and history tours in Egypt and Morocco

If you’re planning a cultural tour de force in Morocco and Egypt in northern Africa, you’ll find the best connections from New Zealand are offered by Middle Eastern airlines like Emirates and Qatar. Both offer direct flights from Auckland to Cairo with a stop-over in Dubai and Doha, respectively. From there, Morocco is a short flight away.

Eastern Africa – for gorilla trekking in in Rwanda and Uganda, as well as safaris in Kenya, and Tanzania (including Zanzibar).

If you’re honing in on East Africa, then you’ll find great international airline connections to all the main hubs, including Nairobi (Kenya), Dar es Salaam and even Zanzibar – both in Tanzania.

Southern Africa – for safaris in South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia, which also combine well with Zambia and Zimbabwe.

South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg (JNB), is the best gateway to Southern Africa from New Zealand. The city’s international airport (OR Tambo) is the biggest and busiest in the continent.

Flying into Johannesburg allows you to connect easily to every major city throughout the continent.

Daily flights connect you to BotswanaTanzania and Kenya for more wildlife safaris, Uganda and Rwanda for gorilla trekking, and Madagascar for up-close encounters with curious lemurs, among many other enticing African destinations. 

No matter where in Africa you wish to travel to, we always recommend you stay at least one night (or more) at your entry point (be it Johannesburg or Nairobi) before moving on. If you're tight on time, you'll find a healthy smattering of good airport hotels to rest your head for the night.

Africa delivers some of the most unforgettable wildlife experiences in the world

Africa delivers some of the most unforgettable wildlife experiences in the world

Airline routes to Africa from New Zealand

Five international airlines are currently offering direct flights to Africa from New Zealand and, from April 2024, South African Airways will begin offering non-stop flights from Perth to Johannesburg.

Of course, you’ll find at least half a dozen more airlines that you could use to plan a round (or semi-round) the world journey if you plan to visit other continents before or after your Africa tour.

For this page, however, we'll concentrate on the airlines that get you to Africa and back in a jiffy.

They are:

  • QANTAS – Fly from Auckland to Johannesburg via a short layover in Sydney. This is the fastest flight service to Africa from New Zealand.
  • Singapore Airlines – Fly to South Africa (Johannesburg or Cape Town) via Singapore.
  • Emirates – Reach Nairobi or Entebbe (Uganda) via Dubai.
  • Qatar Airways – Connects you to Nairobi, Zanzibar or Kilimanjaro via Doha  
  • Cathay Pacific – Flies to Johannesburg via Hong Kong.
  • South Africa Airline – Non-stop flights to Johannesburg from Perth, three times a week – starting April, 2024

How many hours does it take to get to Africa from New Zealand? 

Due to using a more direct flight path and a shorter layover in Sydney, QANTAS offers the fastest flight to Africa from New Zealand. The Auckland to Johannesburg QANTAS flight takes just 19 hours, give or take.

All the other airlines offer much longer flights. Singapore and Emirates flights take about 26 hours, Qatar around 29 hours, and it'll take 32 hours to reach Johannesburg on Cathay Pacific.

Yet for many, the option of a longer layover in the Middle East or Asia is enticement enough to plan a longer flight and split it in two. Singapore, the UAE, Qatar and Hong Kong all offer visa-free entry to New Zealand (and many other) passport holders, so planning a few days’ stay in any of their main flight hubs is easy. Naturally, the list of visa-free countries can change at short notice so always double check before flying out.

When to book your flight to Africa from New Zealand

Over the last year, Africa has become an increasingly popular travel destination for New Zealanders, resulting in an increase in flight services and an ever-expanding array of airline choices. Yet, for now, demand is still outstripping supply, so we advise you to book your flights as early as possible.

The typical last-minute flight discounts you might find for flights don’t generally apply to the New Zealand - Africa route, so the later you leave it, the more expensive flights get. You don't want to be priced out of a trip you've spent weeks or months planning.

Gorilla trekking in Eastern Africa is not an experience you can plan at the last minute. Permits sell out months in advance

Gorilla trekking in Eastern Africa is not an experience you can plan at the last minute. Permits sell out months in advance!


How to plan a multi-country Africa trip from New Zealand

Planning a multi-country safari isn't as difficult as you might imagine. The most popular destinations are well-connected because not many people fly all this way to visit just one country.

The trick to planning a seamless trip is to first list your most desired ‘African experiences’. Perhaps you dream of witnessing the Great Migration, meandering waterways by makoro in the Okavango Delta, trekking for gorillas, seeing humongous herds of elephants crossing the street or soaking up the spectacle of a sunrise hot-air balloon ride over the Masai Mara. Whatever your Africa dream might be, keep it at the top of your must-do list. This is a great place to start.

Hot air ballooning over the Masai Mara one of Africas most iconic experiences

Hot-air ballooning over the Masai Mara, one of Africa’s most iconic experiences


Wherever your #1 bucket-list experience may be, you’ll find an array of extraordinary experiences nearby. From game drives to walking safaris, nighttime wildlife spotting excursions and cultural exchanges – all these unique activities are offered in multiple destinations.

So, rather than choose random countries in Africa, choose one specific region of the continent to explore, be it Southern Africa or Eastern Africa. If you have plenty of time for your Africa trip, by all means, do them both. But if you have just two weeks to dedicate to your visit, choosing one region is the best way to make the most of your time. This way, you'll spend more time on experiences and less time on transfers.

If you’d like to know more, read our comprehensive Guide to Planning a Multi-Country African Safari.

Insider’s tip: From experience, we recommend making a list of your ‘must do’ and ‘must see’ first and then plan your flights accordingly. Our Africa Destination specialists can help you find the fastest and most convenient way to reach the region of Africa you most want to visit from New Zealand.

More reading material you might be interested in:

 If you have a specific destination you wish to reach or simply want to know the fastest or most affordable option to get to Africa from your home in New Zealand, feel free to contact one of Viva’s Destination Specialists. Our Africa team is experienced and constantly updated on the latest flight services that connect the two continents.

We’ll be happy to help you figure out the best way to get to Africa and the best destinations that suit your desires, time frame and budget.

Contact us today.

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