How To Survive The Long Haul Flight From The UK To New Zealand

Planning a long haul flight? Or a magical trip to New Zealand? The bad news is the long flight is a killer, the good news is that this survival guide lists helpful tips on what to bring, do and wear on a long haul flight from the UK to New Zealand.

Many people think that the furthest point from England is Australia but in fact the furthest city from the UK is Dunedin, New Zealand.
In 2015, when my then-fiance and I wanted to spend a year travelling in New Zealand. Guess where we were heading to?
That’s right Dunedin, New Zealand – 19,081 km (11,856 miles) away.
Of course, at the time we were boarding the plane at Heathrow, we had no idea that Dunedin was where we would spend nine fantastic months but we still faced a gruelling 33 hours before we go to Wellington. Our first point of call in the land-further-down-under.

Our Flight To New Zealand

Our trip was broken up into two international flights starting London to San Francisco and then onto Auckland before catching a domestic flight to Wellington. There are many other flight paths you can choose from including Hong Kong, Singapore and Vancouver. This was just the cheapest option at the time of booking.
London to San Francisco flight
The first leg of our journey to the other side of the world was London to San Francisco, a lengthy 11hrs 20min flight in economy class.
San Francisco to Auckland flight
After this, it was a short 6 hours stopover in San Francisco before an absolutely gruelling 13-hour flight to Auckland.
Auckland to Wellington flight
The last part of the journey (by which point we were just walking zombies) was a quick 1 hour hop down from the top of the North Island of New Zealand to the bottom of the North Island.

What To Bring On A Long Haul Flight


What to bring on a long haul flight
Of course, what you take on a short haul flight we differ immensely from what you take onto a long haul flight but a flight to New Zealand or Australia is in a whole other league. Essentially you’re taking two long-haul flights and unless you’re stopping over in a western country (thankfully we did), you might not be able to restock your favourite comforts in the intervening airports.
The bare-ass minimum
If you choose not to pack these then you’re an absolute masochist and if you forget to pack these then it’s likely you’ll get arrested because you went insane 30,000ft in the air.
  • Earplugs

  • Eye mask

  • A fully charged kindle or book

  • Bottle of water (bought airside)

If you can get through 33 hours with just those things, you’re not human. If you are normal, then you will also need these items…
For a bearable flight
  • Noise cancelling headphones

  • iPad with full seasons of shows you actually want to watch

  • iPhone/iPod filled with downloaded music and offline games

  • Socks

  • Slides

  • Change of underwear

  • Slow burner snacks like nuts

  • Makeup wipes

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Toothbrush/toothpaste

  • Trash mags

  • Puzzle book/pen

  • Roll on deodorant

  • Travel pillow

For an amazing flight
It might seem impossible to have an amazing flight but it’s really not! The simple way to have an amazing flight is to upgrade to first class on Emirates. The only not amazing part is it will cost around £8000.

What To Wear On A Long Haul Flight

what to wear on a long haul flight
Getting this right will play a major factor in how comfortable you are on this God awful flight.
First things first, stay away from jeans! If you do a stopover in an Eastern country, you might see some people wearing jeans and flip-flop. Don’t be fooled! These people are anomalies!
There is nothing more uncomfortable on a long-haul flight than jeans. They don’t move, so you can’t put your legs up. They get all wrinkled under the knee and around the crotch and before you know it you’re battling a front, back and knee wedgy in the middle seat and you’ll soon start to think that you might not make it through the hour.
Other things to avoid wearing
  • Leather – your feet will swell and you’ll struggle to get those thigh-high boots on again.

  • Business attire – If you’re heading to a meeting, schedule in time to change you insane person!

  • High heels – Again you’re feet will swell and you’ll be bulging out of your favourite stilettos, plus you’ll probably lose a toe by the end of the flight due to lack of circulation.

  • Your best outfit – I love to dress up for a flight but I don’t wear my favourite outfit or am an expensive one. Flights are bumpy, people are clumsy, there is no dry cleaner that high up.

  • Very trendy but complicated outfits – bodysuits and high waisted trousers are cute but impractical and you’ll most likely have to strip off bare in the loos to pee… then turbulence start… you’re rescued butt ass naked.

  • Pyjamas – it might be tempting to roll out of bed at 1am, get to the airport and board your 6am flight but then you land and you have no other clothes. Your teddy bear onesie just starts to look trashy.

  • Anything itchy – it wouldn’t be an insane idea to test out your outfit beforehand, are there any itchy labels or rough fabrics? It will save you in the long run.

Great things to wear
Try and wear three outfits in one. I’m not kidding! Plan your first outfit to be for hot weather, then add one or two items to make it a mild temperature outfit and then add another one or two things to make it a cosy outfit for autumn. Seasons seem to happen on planes, you’re sweating one minute and dithering the next. Be prepared for every eventuality.
For example:
  • Tank top

  • Jersey palazzo trousers

  • Knitted jumper

  • Pashmina scarf

  • Thick socks

These five items can go from warm (palazzo trousers and a tank top) to cool (palazzo trousers, tank top and a pashmina) to chilly (palazzo trousers, tank top, knitted jumper, pashmina and thick socks)
Tennis shoes are a good all-rounder, they’re lightweight and more flexible than trainers so can be stuffed under your bag for later whilst Nike Air Max’s are bulky as hell. They’re better than flip-flops which will fly off your feet as you’re running to make your connecting flight. The laces and soft canvas also means they will accommodate your swollen feet more than boots will.

How To Keep Your Mind Sane

Being cooped up in a metal tube for 13 hours is enough to make anyone go mad but imagine, getting off one flight only to get back onto another one! Yup, the flight to New Zealand from the UK is two back to back mind breaking flights so make sure you’re mentally prepared for the journey.
Don’t drink too much alcohol
I really want to do the Wade Boggs cross-country flight (it’s not a real thing but if you’re a fan of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia you’ll know what I mean) so I’m not going to preach that you don’t drink any alcohol but drinking a lot on a flight isn’t a great idea. Some of the newer dream liner planes have a better air filtration system to stop you feeling cotton headed but it’s still not a good idea to get drunk on a flight as you will become dehydrated a lot quicker, feel shitter quicker and regret that fourth wine a lot quicker.
Save what planning you can for the flight
This might not always be possible, depending on how long you’ll be in New Zealand but if you’re planning on doing a year abroad, save some of the planning until you’re on the plane. You only really need to have the first month planned, the rest can be more flexible. So crack out the Lonely Planet and start circling some cool places you want to see on the way.
Start practising your social media skills (WiFi needed)
This might sound weird but it might make the challenging 33-hour flight more fun if you made a challenge out of it… Try posting hourly updates on Twitter/Instagram about what’s going on, how was the meal, what film are you watching, how funny does your travel partner look sleeping? Thinking of all the best hashtags and captions will take up at least 15 mins of the hour anyway!
Change your timezone immediately
As soon as those plane doors are locked, turn your phone onto New Zealand time (GMT+12) and try and adjust yourself to their time. So while it might be a lovely afternoon where you currently are it’s the early hours of the morning in NZ so try having a few hours sleep. It’s easier to do if you’re going west (towards America) than if you’re flying via Asia.
Set yourself a schedule
You might think that you’ll run out of ideas quickly but actually, if you schedule everything (even going to the loo) it will stop you from going mad quicker. A tough lesson learnt on a 72-hour train with only four 20 minute stops.
  1. Read a book (1 hour)

  2. Discuss the book with a friend (20 minutes)

  3. Have a snack (10 minutes)

  4. Do 4 walking laps of the plane (15 minutes)

  5. Drink two fingers of water (2 mins)

  6. Post on social (15 mins)

  7. Watch a movie (2 hours)

  8. Go to the loo (10 mins)

See already you’ve done over 4 hours only 29 more to go!
Don’t do on land what you did on the plane
If you’ve got a stopover in an airport, no matter how long for don’t do what you were doing/going to do on the plane. So don’t continue reading or watching something. Seize the opportunity to do something different. Walk the wrong way on a travelator (only if no one is around), play eye spy (very boring on a plane), do some yoga (inconsiderate to do on a plane). Restock supplies!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s