Beautiful as New Zealand is, with all its fjords, wineries, and Middle Earth-y mountain scapes, is also, to put it bluntly, a pain to get to. At best you’d have to fly 11-14 hours across the Pacific Ocean to get to Auckland, and that’s after somehow finding your way to LA, Houston, or San Francisco. Live in a small city on the east coast, and you’re looking at two connections before you even get to the long haul.

And let’s not even talk about getting to the South Island — aka where all that cool Lord of the Rings stuff is.

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But that’s all about the change next year when American Airlines will start nonstop service from Dallas-Ft. Worth to Auckland, expanding one-stop service to most of the eastern United States.

More importantly, American also announced it will begin nonstop service from Los Angeles to Christchurch — aka the gateway city to most of the South Island. Now, instead of having to connect in Auckland to visit the Southern Alps or Milford Sound, you can step right off the plane and get to adventuring.

“The South Island sums up everything that our customers are looking for in New Zealand — adventure, culture, and wildlife found nowhere else,” said Vasu Raja, American’s Senior Vice President of Network Strategy, via press release. “We want to make their lifelong dreams a reality.”

The seasonal service will begin in October of 2020 and run through March 2021. American will offer three flights a week for the first month, then ramp up to daily service starting in December. Remember, that’s summer in New Zealand.

The flights — aboard Boeing 787-8s and 9s — will leave later at night (10:30 PM from Dallas and 11:30 PM from LA) and get you into New Zealand mid-morning two days later. Coming back, you’ll leave around lunchtime and get in early in the morning the same day.

American is launching these new routes in response to the spiked interest in New Zealand, which saw an 8.6% jump in tourism last year. In 2020, the country will also welcome the brand new NZD Maori Cultural Centre in Christchurch, as well as a massive new wellness facility called The Welder.

“The South Island is a must-see for any international visitor to New Zealand,” said Stephen England-Hall, Tourism New Zealand’s Chief Executive. “Thanks to the new non-stop flights from Los Angeles to Christchurch and Dallas to Auckland, it’s is now easier than ever before to experience all that unique and welcoming New Zealand has to offer.”

So while it’ll still be a journey almost worthy of a hobbit, getting to New Zealand will get slightly easier next year. And maybe 2020 will finally be your chance to see Middle Earth, up close and personal.

The post American Airlines to start first nonstop flights to New Zealand’s South Island appeared first on Matador Network.