Tonga’s peak tourist season corresponds with its long ‘dry’ season between May and November, when temperatures are slightly cooler and there is less chance of rain. The majority of visitors arrive between July and September to escape the winter cold in Australia and New Zealand, and this also coincides with Tonga’s whale watching season when these magnificent creatures can be seen migrating through the islands. If you plan to visit during this period, expect higher accommodation rates and flight ticket prices.
Tonga’s ‘wet’ season stretches from late-November to the start of May, with higher temperatures and humidity expected, together with regular downpours. It is more pronounced in the northern islands which lie closer to the Equator, and the heaviest rainfall usually occurs in February and March. This is also cyclone season in Tonga, and while storms are usually short-lived, they can be intense. If you decide to visit in the ‘wet’ season, the weather may not be on your side, but you will benefit from heavily reduced accommodation and flight ticket deals.
If you are planning on visiting Tonga during the ‘dry’ season months of May through to November, try and book your flights as early as possible to get the best deals due to the increased demand for flight tickets during this period. This is particularly true during the Australian and New Zealand school holiday periods and Christmas/New Year when many expat Tongans are traveling home to visit family. If you are traveling in the ‘wet’ season, you should be able to pick up some good flight deals, even if you’re booking last minute.
Flights from Auckland to Tonga – 2 hours 55 minutes.
Flights from Christchurch to Tonga – 5 hours 45 minutes.
Flights from Wellington to Tonga – 5 hours 20 minutes.
Flights from Queenstown to Tonga – 6 hours 05 minutes.
There are direct flights to Tonga from Auckland throughout the week with both Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia. Virgin usually offers slightly cheaper flight tickets, but you can get some good “early bird” deals with Air New Zealand at certain times of the year. From most other New Zealand cities, including Christchurch and Wellington, the most direct route for flights to Tonga is connecting through Auckland first.
The Fua?amotu International Airport is located on the south side of Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, around 35 kilometres from the country’s capital city, Nuku?alofa. It is the only airport in Tonga currently receiving international flights and the main transport hub for the country, with domestic connections available through to ‘Eua, Lifuka, Niuafo’ou, Niuatoputapu and the main tourist island, Vava’u.
There are no public transport options from Fua’amotu Airport or shuttle bus services, and the primary means of transport for most arriving tourists is with one of the metered taxis which operate from outside of the terminal building. It’s also worth checking with your hotel or guesthouse if they provide an airport pick-up service which may be free or cheaper than the cost of a taxi.
For those looking to self-drive around the island, there are a number of car hire desks located within the terminal, but you will get the best deals if you pre-book your rental car.