Auckland-New York: Top tips on what to do in The City and how to handle the 16-hour direct flight

  • 30/12/2023

It's now been more than six months since Qantas launched its Auckland-New York direct service in direct competition with that of Air New Zealand.

The Australian airline said the route's popularity with Kiwi customers saw it increase from three to four flights per week and, starting in August 2024, that will ramp right up to a service every single day of the week.

In September, Air NZ published a 'love letter' to New York to mark 12 months of its services direct from Auckland.

As the sun sets on 2023 and Qantas looks ahead to daily AKL-JFK services in the new year, three of the airline's most experienced New York experts of the Auckland cabin crew provided Newshub with their top travel tips for your time in The City along with how to best cope with the ultra-long-haul flight to get there.

Eat ice cream and bathe in sprinkles at the Museum of Ice Cream.
Eat ice cream and bathe in sprinkles at the Museum of Ice Cream. Photo credit: supplied

Customer service supervisor Courtney Wiles

  • Top food tip: Bagel Market
    This place has a fantastic array of bagels made fresh on-site and is absolutely my number one breakfast stop. I'm slowly making my way through their extensive menu, with my current favourite being 'The Cali'.
  • Don't leave New York without: Visiting the Museum of Ice Cream
    This instagramable spot hands out free ice cream as you move through the museum, and the best part, you can lie in a sprinkle pool!
  • Best neighbourhood to explore: Coney Island
    A one-hour train ride from the city, this is a fantastic spot to go in the summertime. You can dip your toes in the North Atlantic Ocean at the beach, walk along the boardwalk, grab an ice cream from Coney Cones or a hot dog from the famous Nathans, or jump on a ride at Luna Park.
  • Best nightlife spot: 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar
    This is the place to go to for the best night-time view of the Empire State Building and 360-degree views of the city, with great frozen margaritas and pina coladas.
  • Long-haul flying tip: Sunlight upon arrival
    When you land, try and get as much sunlight as you can to acclimatise to the local time zone and avoid jet lag. Sunlight in the morning is super important.
The Brooklyn Bridge.
The iconic Brooklyn Bridge. Photo credit: Getty Images

Customer service manager Ryan Seekles

  • Top food tip: The Laughing Man
    We Kiwis and Aussies love our coffee and our crew go-to is The Laughing Man, a small hole in the wall outlet rumoured to be Hugh Jackman's favourite coffee spot.
  • Don't leave New York without: Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
    Time passes quickly on this route - I once started walking from our hotel in Brooklyn and made my way all the way to Times Square.
  • Best neighbourhood to explore: Brooklyn
    It has lots of great eateries and little coffee shops - too many to name. It's also a great change of scenery from the Manhattan hustle and bustle.
  • Best nightlife spot: Marie's Crisis Cafe
    This Greenwich Village bar is one of the trendiest yet most casual places in town, featuring an 'open piano' where you may be lucky enough to catch a Broadway actor singing a show tune with the whole venue joining in for a singalong. It is an amazing experience.
  • Long-haul flying tip: Take a thermal water bottle
    I love cold water, so I have one I fill with ice and water pre-flight and then top up as needed throughout.
People viewing the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center at dusk, New York, NY, USA.
People viewing the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center at dusk. Photo credit: Getty Images

Customer service manager Grady Cimino

  • Top food tip: Junior's Cheesecake
    Hands down the best place to try the original New York Style cheesecake. Billed 'The world's most fabulous cheesecake', it certainly is the best cheesecake in town in my opinion. They have lots of different flavours on offer including key lime, strawberry swirl and my personal favourite, pumpkin pie.
  • Don't leave New York without: Visiting the Rockefeller Centre
    One of my favourite places to go in New York, I love to marvel at Art Deco architecture. In winter, ice skating under the giant Christmas tree is also an absolute must.
  • Best neighbourhood to explore: SoHo
    Explore cobblestone streets, amazing architecture, trendy neighbourhoods and a very fun mix of culture and eateries.
  • Best nightlife spot: Please Don't Tell Bar
    Located at Crif Dogs, an American hot dog restaurant, you will find this secret bar accessible through a phone booth. It has amazing cocktails and atmosphere to check out and maybe grab a hot dog on the way out!
  • Long-haul flying tip: Take a walk first
    A walk in the fresh air always helps before a flight, especially barefoot in the grass, which I find very relaxing. I was told once on a flight from a passenger that this helps with 'grounding' so it's now a habit of mine.