You have a wide choice of flights to Hilo, USA, from New Zealand. South Islanders can fly out of Christchurch, with flight times varying from around 10h 30min at the shorter end to the longer flights that can take about 23h 30min. If you live on the North Island, you can leave from Auckland or Wellington. Auckland offers a couple of flights a day, which vary substantially in travel time – some flights take almost 18h, while others reach Hilo in just under 9h 30min. Wellington offers more flights per day, on a similar schedule to Christchurch, with travel times taking anywhere from about 10h 30min to around 24h.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to fly directly from New Zealand to this Hawaiian island, but you can find good Hilo flight deals on routes that make layovers. The shorter flights are from Auckland Airport (AKL), making one stop en route; one flight path stops at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Honolulu, and the other flies via Los Angeles Airport (LAX). Both then land at Hilo Airport, Hilo (ITO). Flights from other cities make two stops on the way. From Christchurch Airport (CHC), you’ll fly first to Nadi Airport (NAN) in Fiji and then to Honolulu and Hilo. Other flights make their first stops at Auckland Airport, Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD), Melbourne Airport (MEL) or Brisbane Airport (BNE) before flying to Honolulu and then Hilo. You can also fly the same routes via the US mainland, stopping over at Los Angeles Airport (LAX) instead of Honolulu. Wellington Airport (WLG) offers virtually identical flight routes to those leaving Christchurch.
It’s only a short distance from Hilo Airport to the centre of the town, and you can make the journey in a taxi or use a mobile app like Uber. If you want to use public transport, a convenient way to travel is to catch the Intra Hilo Kaumana bus, which will only take about 4min to make the 3.5 mile trip (5.6 km) to the central Mooheau Bus Terminal. A shuttle service is also available from the airport, operated by Jayride.
Hilo is on the rainier side of Hawaii, so it has lush vegetation and a large number of natural attractions. It’s also where you’ll find some famous waterfalls on Hawaii’s Big Island, Akaka Falls, which are almost 450 feet (137 metres) tall. Kaumana Caves are another big attraction in the area of Hilo. You can walk through a tube beneath the earth seared out by lava in 1881; it’s 25 miles (40 km) long. A much smaller waterfall but possibly one of the most picturesque on the island is Rainbow Falls, which cascades over a lava cave that local mythology calls the home of the Hawaiian goddess of the moon, Hina. Imiloa Astronomy Center is another very popular attraction, located in the town itself.
If you’re a New Zealand citizen, you won’t need a visa to enter Hawaii, under the US visa waiver regulations. Instead you’ll just need an ESTA travel authorisation, which will let you stay in Hilo for up to 90 days at a time. It’s valid for two years and you can enter the US as many times as you wish in this period.
If you book a flight to Hilo, you will be flying into Hilo Intl, which is the city’s only airport. Hilo Intl (ITO) is located 4.8 km from the centre of Hilo.