Lead-up to Trans-Tasman travel proving difficult as flight prices soar

It's one week until Australian travellers are able to enter New Zealand isolation-free. 

But Aussies and Kiwis living in Australia say flights are so expensive and hard to get that it's proving difficult to travel here at all. 

It's a border-reopening dream-crusher. 

"Getting a direct flight is virtually impossible unless you've got thousands and thousands of dollars," Australian traveller Sheryl Higgins said.

Higgins is trying to get from the Gold Coast via Jetstar to visit family in Wanaka in July. 

"[On] July 2 there's no direct flights at all and the one on July 1 is like $500 one-way to get there," Higgins said. 

A Kiwi currently in Australia, Taylor Cairns, is travelling from Sydney and was planning on returning with Air New Zealand around Easter. 

But with economy seats sold out, she is being forced to look at the business class prices. 

"That is looking like it will be about $3000 return," Cairns said. 

"My boyfriend and I just booked to go see his family in the UK end of May and that's $3000 return for both of us to fly all the way to England and back."

House of Travel chief operating officer Brent Thomas said it's encouraging that outbound bookings have been up for the past four to six weeks. 

He said airlines will start to bring on more aircraft and staff to meet demand but flights are going to be tight for some time. 

"And that's because air capacity hasn't come back to where it was, say in 2019. There's not the number of carriers coming in, and the carriers who are here do not have the number of planes," Thomas said.

But any tourist return makes a difference for attractions like Te Puia in Rotorua. 

"Without doubt, the Australian market's going to make a difference to our business. We were 98 percent international," Te Puia Rotorua CEO Tim Cossar said.

"We expect it will be a slow build, particularly in the central North Island, probably down south is going to see larger numbers, particularly with ski season."

People just need to be able to get here. 

"We're sort of at the end of the pandemic, and it's harder. And it should be easy," Higgins said. 

Trans-Tasman travel proving trickier than anticipated.