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Booked: Aloha, Bula, and Kia Ora

Just over a week after returning from my November round-the-world trip, the adventure is set to continue with a couple of weeks spent hopping through the Pacific Ocean with my girlfriend Jessy in tow. Here are all the details of the next trip I’ll be embarking on shortly, where I’ll be hitting up Hawaii, Fiji, and New Zealand.

The Trip

I was instantly charmed by New Zealand when I swung through Auckland for two days on my round-the-world trip back in February, and I had immediately decided, right then and there, to plan another New Zealand trip with Jessy as soon as possible.

That became the main motivating factor of this December trip, which happens to be the first time in a while that Jessy has enough time off from her graduate studies program to join me on a long-haul journey somewhere. 

Of course, as I always do, I tried to think of some interesting stopovers and layovers along the way to or from New Zealand. And since Jessy had always clamoured for us to go to Hawaii as well, I decided to see if I could fit in a few days there.

While I had originally booked a set of Air Canada business class flights into Honolulu, the schedule change resulting from the Boeing 737 MAX fiasco eventually compelled me to change our destination to Maui instead, which I hear offers much more in the way of natural beauty and scenic hikes, in addition to some splendid beaches of course.

Maui, Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii

After four days in Maui, the long journey south to New Zealand begins. Here, I opted for a rather unconventional routing: a “mini-island-hopper” sequence that sees us flying down to Nadi, Fiji with a one-hour stop in Kiritimati, Kiribati (also known as “Christmas Island”, but a different Christmas Island from the more well-known Australian territory). After a 23-hour layover in Fiji, we’ll continue down to Auckland, New Zealand.

(This was all booked as a single Fiji Airways redemption, which I’ll expand upon further in the section below.)

Finally, the bulk of our trip takes place over the course of nine days in New Zealand – although I would’ve definitely loved to have even more time there to drive the entire North and South Islands. 

Instead, with only nine days to work with, I decided to first spend two days in Auckland exploring the city again and adjusting to the time zone, before we’d fly down to Queenstown and use it as a base to explore the otherworldly natural beauty of New Zealand’s South Island.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand

We’ll be driving from Queenstown down to the scenic lake town of Te Anau, from which we’ve booked a day tour of Milford Sound, which includes a boat cruise of the region’s stunning fiords and a guided hike on part of the famous Milford Track as well.

(Unfortunately, hiking the entirety of the Milford Track – often described as “the finest walk in the world” – is something that needs to be booked almost a year in advance, so I’m afraid it’ll have to wait for sometime in the future, and probably when Jessy and I are more accomplished hikers than the mere amateur interest we take at the moment.)

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Milford Sound, New Zealand

The next day, we’ll drive back to Queenstown and spend the night there. Then, for the next three days, we’ll head north towards Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo, both of which offer ample hiking trails and gorgeous scenic views that visitors are able to explore at their own pace. 

We’ll finish the trip off with a day and a half spent relaxing in Queenstown, which I’ve heard many people say is one of the most beautiful towns they’ve ever visited, especially during the long nights of the southern summer.

Finally, as part of the return journey on Aeroplan that I booked, I managed to schedule in a 24-hour layover in Christchurch before heading to Auckland and then flying back across the Pacific, so I’m happy to get the chance to explore a bit of the South Island’s largest city as well.

The Flights

Before I talk about the flights in detail, I want to mention that this itinerary was by no means an easy one to book at all.

A trip similar to this, involving Hawaii, New Zealand, and some islands in the South Pacific, is one that I very often hear about people wanting to book, but the reality is that the limited flight networks and award availability make it quite a tough trip to piece together. 

In my case, even having planned much of this trip about nine months in advance, I still ended up with more economy class flights on the agenda than I’d usually like, and I’ve probably spent more miles and gotten less “on-paper” value than a “simple” business class round-the-world trip to Europe and Asia would’ve gotten me.

The point is: the Pacific Ocean is definitely not an easy part of the world to explore on points, and you really must work for it!

Fiji Airways A320 business class

Fiji Airways A320 business class

With that being said, let’s take a look at my outbound journey first. There are no major award programs that let you book a stopover in Hawaii on a one-way routing to New Zealand, so I had to break this into two separate redemptions: one from Montreal to Hawaii, and then another from Hawaii to New Zealand.

(In theory, I could’ve combined the outbound and the return into a single Aeroplan round-trip with a stopover in Hawaii, except for the fact that Air New Zealand’s Hawaii–Auckland flight almost never has any award space, and any other routing would’ve fallen afoul of the maximum permitted mileage.)

From Montreal to Hawaii, I had initially chosen the relatively simple routing of Air Canada business class via Vancouver, for 40,000 Aeroplan miles per person. But then the Boeing 737 MAX fiasco happened, which resulted in a few things being shuffled around: while I’d get to avoid an overnight layover in Vancouver, the flight from Vancouver to Maui was now on Air Canada Rouge (ugh!), and I’d also only arrive in Hawaii late at night.

Nevertheless, it was still the most comfortable way to fly out there, since all of the United Airlines flights were showing economy class only, and as much as we like to give Air Canada Rouge hard time… well, it’s better than economy.

Indeed, that lesson will surely be very keenly felt on the way from Hawaii to Auckland. 

Here’s the story: Fiji Airways, an Alaska Airlines partner, serves Honolulu twice a week. But one of these flights is operated via an intermediate island – a place called Kiritimati, or Christmas Island, part of the Republic of Kiribati spanning over 3.5 million square kilometres in the central Pacific Ocean. 

Once I had taken notice of this flight’s existence, I immediately thought back to the memories from my United Island Hopper adventure earlier this year.

And I must’ve been quite desperate indeed to rekindle those memories with a one-hour stop in Kiritimati, because I went ahead and booked the whole Hawaii–Kiritimati–Nadi–Auckland journey for 45,000 Alaska miles per person in mixed economy and business class, with the hope of upgrading the Hawaii–Kiritimati–Nadi segment to business class if it opened up later… except it never did.

(I haven’t told Jessy that we’re spending a grand total of eight hours hopping through the middle of nowhere in the backseats of a Fiji Airways 737 yet. Sorry Jessy.)

Thankfully, the return journey from New Zealand will be a much more comfortable ride. As part of the overall Aeroplan redemption from Queenstown to Toronto, which cost 80,000 Aeroplan miles per person, I eventually managed to snag a very rare award in Air New Zealand business class from Auckland to Los Angeles – but it certainly didn’t come easily.

At first, I had booked a very convoluted routing on Singapore Airlines and Air Canada via Singapore and Seoul. At this point, I decided to set a few ExpertFlyer alerts for Air New Zealand business class space, so that I could make changes if they later opened up.

map (9).gif

Several months later, Air New Zealand opened up some space on their Auckland–Tokyo Narita flight that day, so I made the change to shorten the journey significantly…

map (10).gif

And then another month later, Air New Zealand opened up space on Auckland–Los Angeles, so I made another change to make it the most efficient ride home. We’re ending the journey in Toronto (following an Air Canada business class flight on the Dreamliner from Los Angeles) to spend the Christmas holidays with Jessy’s parents, so we didn’t want to be flying around for any longer than we needed to be. 

Finally, I just had a few short one-way segments to book: Maui–Honolulu, which was a very cheap US$39 fare on Hawaiian Airlines, and Auckland–Queenstown, which was a slightly more expensive $90 on Air New Zealand.

I had always known from others’ experiences that a trip through the Pacific Ocean was a rather difficult one to pull off on points (especially if you want business class on the longer flights), but now I know that from my own experience.

You’ll need to plan well in advance, be prepared to book less optimal routings and make changes later, and be willing to part ways with larger sums of points than if you had decided to take an “easier” trip instead (and even then, you may simply have to make do with economy class in order to go where you want to go).

My overall routing therefore looks as follows: 

  • Montreal to Vancouver on Air Canada, departing 7:15am and arriving 9:46am, business class

  • Vancouver to Maui on Air Canada, departing 6pm and arriving 10:15pm, business class

 

  • Maui to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines, departing 9:10am and arriving 9:48am, economy class

  • Honolulu to Kiritimati on Fiji Airways, departing 12pm and arriving 3:15pm the next day, economy class

  • Kiritimati to Nadi on Fiji Airways, departing 4:15pm and arriving 8:05pm, economy class

  • Nadi to Auckland on Fiji Airways, departing 7pm and arriving 10:10pm, business class

 

  • Auckland to Queenstown on Air New Zealand, departing 3:40pm and arriving 5:35pm, economy class

 

  • Queenstown to Christchurch on Air New Zealand, departing 5:40pm and arriving 6:40pm, economy class

  • Christchurch to Auckland on Air New Zealand, departing 6pm and arriving 7:25pm, economy class

  • Auckland to Los Angeles on Air New Zealand, departing 10:55pm and arriving 2pm, business class

  • Los Angeles to Toronto on Air Canada, departing 10:35pm and arriving 5:58am the next day, business class

The Hotels

For this trip, I needed to book accommodations for:

  • Four nights in Maui

  • One night in Fiji

  • Two nights in Auckland

  • Three nights in Te Anau

  • One nights in Queenstown

  • Three nights somewhere around Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo

  • One night in Christchurch

In Maui and Fiji, I had no troubles upholding my loyalty to Marriott Bonvoy. While I wasn’t overly impressed by any of the Maui properties, I thought the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort would do just fine for a relaxing beachside getaway, especially because I was able to find all four nights at the off-peak rate of 40,000 Bonvoy points per night for this Category 6 property.

Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Maui

Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Maui

With cash rates nearing US$500 per night, I felt I was getting a great deal. Furthermore, I was able to extract maximum value out of the 40,000-point free night certificate I earned for achieving Titanium Elite status this year, meaning I only had to pay the 40,000 points for three nights.

(The resort also has a waterslide as part of their pool, which I intend to go on at least a few dozen times.)

On the downside, the Wailea Beach Marriott imposes a nasty resort fee of US$38 per day – gross. Let’s just say I’ll be keeping my eyes open for any in-room deficiencies or service failures that could somehow be used to justify a waiver of those predatory resort fees.

Over in Fiji, the city of Nadi is where most tourists pass through, and there are a wealth of hotels that seem to fall into that “good-but-not-great” category.

I decided to stay at the Marriott Fiji Resort Momi Bay mostly because of its overwater villas, which did a much better job of catching my eye than the other Marriott resorts on Fiji (well, except for the Sheraton Resort Tokoriki Island, but I thought that the two-hour boat transfer required from Nadi would be far too inconvenient for our short one-night stay). 

Marriott Fiji Resort Momi Bay

Marriott Fiji Resort Momi Bay

I booked a night here at this Category 5 property for 30,000 Bonvoy points, again at the off-peak rate, which felt like great value. While a points redemption books into the base-level room, I’ve submitted a Suite Night Award for the overwater villa – SNAs have cleared for me every time I’ve used them so far, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this one.

In New Zealand, however, is where my loyalty to Marriott ends on this trip. That’s because the entire chain only has a single property in the country: the Four Points by Sheraton Auckland, where I stayed back in February and found to be quite unremarkable. 

Instead, this time, I took advantage of the recent IHG PointBreaks promotion and booked two nights at the Crowne Plaza Auckland for 15,000 IHG Rewards points per night.

I had earned these points from applying for the Chase IHG MasterCard a while back, and had been hoping to use them on a PointBreaks promotion – one of the most generous promotions among any hotel loyalty program, where free nights are available for as little as 5,000 points per night – ever since. 

I’ve never stayed at a Crowne Plaza hotel before, and I know almost nothing about the brand, so I’m very curious about this upcoming stay. I’ll be especially looking out to see what kind of treatment I get as an IHG Platinum member, which is a status level that’s granted to all Chase IHG cardholders. 

Crowne Plaza Auckland

Crowne Plaza Auckland

The chain with the strongest presence in New Zealand, however, would have to be Hilton Honors, and the rest of the trip sees a mixture of Hilton hotels and Airbnb stays in the more remote parts of the country.

The Hilton Queenstown looks very nice, so I snagged a room there for NZ$227 ($195). Then, in Christchurch, I booked the Château on the Park, a DoubleTree by Hilton property, for NZ$189 ($162). 

For both bookings, it seemed like a better deal to pay cash, and earn 54x Hilton Honors points back at the moment thanks to the current triple-points promotion combined with my Amex US Hilton Aspire Card, than to redeem my Hilton Honors points – which I’d rather be saving towards a more aspirational redemption in the future.

The Aspire Card also confers instant Hilton Diamond status, so I’ll be drawing upon my suite upgrade pursuits with Marriott Bonvoy and trying to work the same magic on the Hilton chat associates!

Hilton Queenstown

Hilton Queenstown

Finally, I booked Airbnbs for the nights we’d spend in the New Zealand countryside – a cute one-bedroom house for three nights in Te Anau, and a unique, custom-built studio inside a disassembled airplane sitting on the side of the road in Pukaki, a locale about halfway between Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo that we could use as a base to explore both places for our three nights in the region.

Speaking of which…

The Car Rentals

“Wait, what?” You must be thinking. “Ricky’s actually renting a car to get around from place to place?”

Nope. Jessy’s renting a car, whereas I’m chipping in with my expert navigational skills. 😉

(By the way, I do want to officially declare here that one of my most pressing goals for 2020 is to finally get my full driver’s license, so that I can travel properly in places where driving is the best way to get around. After incurring the wrath of bus drivers in Jordan and now forcing Jessy to shoulder the task of driving on the wrong side of the road on her own, there’s really no excuse anymore.) 

Anyway, since this was the first time I was renting a car, I asked some friends for the best money-saving tips on car rentals, and the universal answer seemed to be to use Autoslash and call it a day. And indeed, we managed to snag a Jeep Wrangler in Maui for four days for US$166, plus a small sedan for a week in the South Island for US$208. It’s quite a bit more affordable than I was expecting!

My total out-of-pocket costs for this trip, per person, came to the following:

  • Aeroplan taxes and fees, YUL–YVR–OGG: $80

  • Hawaiian Airlines, OGG–HNL: $50

  • Alaska Mileage Plan taxes and fees, HNL–CXI–NAN–AKL: $65

  • Air New Zealand, AKL–ZQN: $90

  • Aeroplan taxes and fees, ZQN–CHC–AKL–LAX–YYZ: $40

  • Aeroplan change fees (twice): $150

  • Airbnb in Te Anau, three nights: $233

  • Airbnb in Pukaki, three nights: $192

  • Hilton Queenstown, one night: $195

  • Château on the Park Christchurch, one night: $162

  • Car rental in Maui: $109

  • Car rental in New Zealand: $137

  • Day tour of Milford Sound (cruise & hike): $130

  • New Zealand eTA: $38

  • Total: $1,671

Conclusion

After a couple of hard-working and at times stressful months for both of us, Jessy and I are looking forward to spending some quality time relaxing in the sunshine by the beach, followed by a few weeks hiking around the stunning natural landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island, with a little island-hopping through Kiribati and Fiji thrown in for good measure. 

With a few cute Airbnbs in remote locations and long drives through the glorious southern summer nights, this also promises to be a very different type of trip from the more fast-paced adventures I’ve taken recently, and that kind of variety is always good for an avid traveller’s soul. 

Finally, I do want to say that while I will of course be doing my best to keep up with the content here on Prince of Travel, I also want to actually allow myself to relax a bit along this trip – so let’s say that I’ll be putting in 100% effort instead of my usual 110%.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll continue to catch up on my old trip reports, toss in a few Miles & Points think-pieces, and invite T.J. to chip in with a few of his posts as well, but otherwise I’ll be taking things a little easier to prepare ourselves for a full-speed start to 2020. 

31 Comments
  1. Sara

    Very informative post! FYI, I don’t think that photo is the Wailea Beach Resort. There is no beach at the resort (only lava rocks) and you can usually see the rest of Maui/other islands in the background.

    1. Ricky

      Aye, you’re right. Now that I’m here, I realize that was the Grand Wailea next door. Thanks for catching that!

  2. YoniPDX

    Ricky, In the process of booking a similar but slightly longer 3.5 wks next Sept/Oct (same issues DW only gets 7wks PTO – so we have to squeeze more in to less time).

    We do have some coach seats mixed in mainly NAN-AKL and Domestic NZ & AU legs – and cash prices are quite reasonable – even going to give the Shower while Flying F on EK CHC-SYD. We have about 8 months to figure out the NZ itinerary and lodging after NYE when we return from our first Points and miles trip to SA (JNB-CPT and the Bush for Safari) we fly out shortly. 44 Hours in the air in lie fly seats there and back (PDX-JNB-PDX). Will have to reread and reconsider some of the input about Fiji as will be there longer as well we may do Queenstown over WLG.

    The Hilton in CHC looks cool (but we are not going for hotel stay’s).

    While I realize your more more AC/Aeroplan focused we are returning on AC J MEL/YVR/PDX but I used UA for the sake of simplicity ( I do know that I possibly booked it cheaper using transfer to FF Star alliance partner – only in the game since early fall 2017).

    Traveled a lot in the Northern hemisphere but this is our first trip to the Antipodes and will be 3rd with Pts/miles – We have family in Hawaii and did 8 days there this time last December. We also have family in HKG and we’ve visited southern China but not PVG or PEK. Thus the longer layover also rather deal with some Jetlag in Asia as we have family there and likely re-do this leg if we like what see,

    I Booked most of this last month – before the Virgin AmEX 30% transfer bonus otherwise the 13 hours in the Delta One suites on the new A330-900neo would have been 46K MR + $5.60 instead of 60K.

    Fiji/NZ/AU has been on our bucket list, so happy to stitch this 3.5 wk trip together

    PDX-SEA-PVG-HKG-NAN-AKL-WLG-CHC-SYD-MEL-YVR-PDX

    PDX-SEA F, DL 7K SM +$5.60 x 2 for checked bags -stage from SEA
    SEA-PVG J, DL 60K VA +$5.60 x 2 D1 Suites on new A330Neo W-Ast on the Bund $100 Hilton Aspire Credit and points other nights

    PVG-HKG-NAN J, FJ, 40K AA +$57.50 x 2 23hour layover -Conrad HKG then fly Fiji Hilton Beach resort Aspire Credits/WE Certs (May go off island reading about FIji mainland) a and use Aspire resort credits in QNTN.

    NAN-AKL TBD likely cash or AA

    AKL-WLG Cash <$50 x2 Air NZ/FJ
    WLG-CHC Cash <$50 x2 Air NZ/FJ
    CHC-SYD F, EK USB AR pts @1.5cpp A380 w/Shower plus 450% AS miles on cash tickets

    SYD-MEL Cash or Avios TBD SPG certs Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde park
    MEL-YVR-PDX F, AC 90K UR +$75.55 x 2 787-9 SPG Certs Westin Melbourne

    I locked in the last leg first, NS to NA is ideal with fixed PTO fewer connections the better.

    FWIW if your flying SFO/LAX to NAN look to fly out of LAX on the new A350 as they have true lie flat J seats the A330 are angled out of SFO on FJ.

  3. Jian

    To me, I am looking forward to reading your experience on Airbnb, probably moving out again to a luxury hotel…

    1. Ricky

      Hopefully that St. Petersburg experience was the exception rather than the norm.

  4. MM

    Hey Ricky! Do you pay the change fee for Aeroplan every time you make a change when a new flight pops up? Sounds like it would add up quick to change you and Jessy’s flight twice ($400?).

    1. Ricky

      Yep. It was $75 per person as a Diamond member, so $300 in total for two changes.

      Unless I’m going out of my way to fly new airlines or routes, these decisions are usually pretty simple: would I pay $75 to save X hours of travel time? In these two cases, the answer was a very clear yes.

      1. MM

        Fair enough! I’d do that too. I was just wondering if you had anything up your sleeve ;). One thing I’ve found is I usually get a "itinerary change" when I select seats on other airlines (say, TK). When a more direct route comes up, I call in and say this "itinerary change" is not very convenient and I’d like the direct route. They never check what the change was, they just assume the non-direct flights were the issue and then change for free

  5. Nomad_on_Points

    Wow….yet another dumbass trip….ur like the only blogger that takes a million flights that dont make sense and stop in a bunch of countries to stamp your passport and brag at points meetings of how many countries you’ve visited…..unlike others which focus on one country (or area) and discuss that in detail:

    • First of all, flying around the Pacific is not hard….yes maybe AirNZ biz is hard to find sometimes, but totally doable….also flying Fiji from SFO or LAX using Alaska points with a free stopover is easily available or even Air Tahiti using AA miles or even going through Asia and the backdoor way…..tons of ways to do this….Ive been to the Pacific Region many many times from Toronto and all on points with no problems

    • Flying AC rouge for that long? ouch…thats total torture…good luck with that one

    • Very sad to only spend one day in Fiji….whats the point? Oh yah, to stamp the passport and do the IG photo….ooops, I forgot. The main island of Fiji is so gross…..like super disgusting. For everyone else, the key to Fiji are the surrounding islands….the Mamanucas are so beautiful and I found the Sheraton Tokoriki to be an amazing redemption because it shares the same island as one of the most expensive and nicest private hotels in Fiji….so we used points to stay at the Sheraton (which was just so-so), but was able to have all meals at the adjacent hotel which was pure luxury…..the island from the movie CastAway is directly across from the Sheraton…..the main island of Fiji is terrible…avoid at all costs and wasting even a day there is such a waste of time…..

    • Your NZ itin is outright dumb….and I cant believe anyone would recommend this!….one night in Queenstown? are you effing kidding me? Its seriously like one of the nicest cities in the world and your just passing by? sad…..anyone reading this, please spend way more time in Queenstown…its amazing! Maybe Ricky should consider spending more time here and less time hopping around islands in the Pacific like a moron (and in economy to boot!)

    -The Doubletree Queenstown is a way better redemption than the Hilton…why? Cause its way cheaper, just as nice and as a diamond, you get to use all the facilities and have breakfast at the Hilton which is connected and part of the same complex

    -Hilton Auckland has to be one of the best hotels in the city (with an amazing view from breakfast) and one of the nicest Hiltons in the world….so if you have the Aspire card, why the heck would you stay at the Crowne Plaza? makes no sense

    • The AirNZ redemption was a good catch….we loved our flight with them and their wine was soooooooo good…..

    Ur going to some amazing places….too bad ur just rushing through everything as usual….Cant wait for the IG pics of living the fake luxe life

    1. Tony Sagar

      I have mixed feelings on a post like.

      I admire Ricky for allowing criticism as most people would not. The sarcasm is well taken but everyone has a huge budget like you appear to have.
      Why all the hate?
      I get the point of rushing through a place to get in a photo op…I stopped following Rick on Insta for that reason…I have traveling mostly points in J class for 15 years so I sitting in the front means less too me these days then it does to newbies.
      Still Thank Ricky for all the great free information.

      PS – Looking for a problem at a hotel as way getting back the "resort fee" sounds a bit…tacky especially for your staying there for on points. I also say spending so much time in airplanes is not a healthy thing as the air quality is suspect.

      1. Alice

        I think you miss the point of these blogs. Ricky is showing us what is possible. To someone who has say, 4-5 weeks of vacation, they can use this as a blueprint to book a trip. To someone who has 2 weeks, they can cut down on some flights and still use this as a blueprint. It’s great that sitting in front means less to you know, but you still travel in J on points. Whether you done this for 1 year or 15 years doesn’t mean anything. How people choose to travel is up to them.

      2. Ricky

        I suppose it depends on your perspective on resort fees – whether they’re a predatory money grab or something you’ve come to accept.

        I personally find them a bit tacky to begin with, especially on points redemptions.

        1. MM

          Preach. We shouldn’t let hotels get away with this scam just because we’re using "points"!

    2. Stan Spack

      Why the need to be so mean-spirited? Like many people, perhaps Ricky doesn’t have the time spend the amount of time in places that YOU deem acceptable. Maybe this is an overview trip and he will go back and focus on the areas later. Maybe he won’t.

      Either way it’s his prerogative to spend his time and points how he likes, no matter how much irrational internet rage that seems to cause you.

    3. Cory

      Ricky, don’t forget to take some extra spicy Insta pics this time just for this loser.

    4. Andrew

      Who hurt you?

    5. static_traveler

      in all sincerity, do you have a blog or some place where you post regularly? because i would like to know more about how you travel, where you stay and so on

      i enjoy ricky’s posts, but i also enjoy seeing what other people do with points and it seems you are well traveled

      1. Nomadic_on_Points

        I dont want to be mean-spirited, but I just call it out as it is….sorry if that offends any of you, but its criticism and its valid so tough shit and accept it.

        People call Ricky the "guru" or the "prince" but its full of crap….his advice is mostly terrible and many of you may not be well traveled and as readers of this blog, you’d assume that everything he is telling you is the best advice but unfortunately, its usually the complete opposite.

        One day in Queenstown? Thats not what I "deem acceptable" but ask ANYONE who has been to NZ and they will tell you that if you only spend one day in Queenstown, ur not doing the country justice….like at all. I understand that not many people have the "time" to do it, but Ricky obviously does but instead, he is hopping around the Pacific to spend a couple of hours on random Pacific Islands and as a result, only has time for one day on Queenstown…..if he wants to brag about how many flights he can fit into one redemption, fine…..it doesnt make much sense, but thats his prerogative….but I just wanted to make it very clear anyone reading that this his trip is definitely an example of not using the time that you have efficiently and doing a country the justice it deserves

        When Ricky started out (and Ive been a reader of his since the beginning), he was a great Canadian alternative to the big US bloggers and had huge potential (especially when Jayce moved to WestJet)…..I still think some of his pieces are some of the best out there, but recently its becoming very very rare and this blog has become all about "me me me"…..look at me (cue fake James Bond pose in a suite he scammed by gaming credit cards or by repeatedly returning jewelry to the Bay)……its sad

        And no, I do not have my own blog….Ive been travel hacking for 10 years now, and have been to over half of the countries in the world….all on miles/points so I feel that I have the experience to sometimes give another perspective

        If you want a very good blog, read one mile at a time with Lucky (Ben)….Ricky is just a C rated blogger compared to Ben…..and even though they are similar ages, you wont find Ben posting fake pics of him sitting in First Class looking out the window like a total loser and wannabe……and you also wont find Ben advocating to rack up points by buying stuff from department stores and returning it just to keep the points or finding any damage to a room to argue to get the resort fees waived……sad, pathetic and classless

        Ben is the real deal…..even though Ricky had potential, he’s quickly becoming a fake IG influencer wannabe….

        1. Brian

          This post is so out of touch with reality its hilarious. Criticize Ricky for "booking a million flights that don’t make sense" but praise Ben for booking week long trips to nowhere flying around just for the sake of flying? You’re delusional.

        2. Ricky

          I’m glad you’ve chosen to comment with some actual substance.

          There’s no denying that not everyone will share my travel style. I really do feel that Miles & Points was tailor-made for me in that I love spending time in new destinations, but I also love the feeling of being on the move, so trips like these are the result. Sure, I’d love to spend more than a few days in Queenstown, but as far as I’m concerned, missing out on some tasty island hopping in the Pacific would be entirely unacceptable.

          I have nothing but the greatest respect for Ben from OMAAT. His work was largely what inspired me to start the website, and I still read his posts on a daily basis. So to be called a C-lister in comparison to Ben is frankly a very well thought out compliment.

          As for the Instagram, well, what can I say? I used to feel the same way as you, believe it or not. But then I realized it’s a great way of getting people interested in what we do, so I learned to have fun with it. It’s a shame if that’s what brings an end to your long-standing readership, but hey, maybe for the sake of your sanity it’s for the better.

        3. Alice

          You are being mean-spirited. A post like YoniPDX is helpful. Yours is not.

        4. Mark

          You mean the Ben who got banned by United airlines for scamming thousands of dollars in compensation vouchers? Do us a favor and think before you post.

          1. NoP

            You mean the time he got banned from United when he was 18 years old? yah, lets put blame on somebody of what they did when they were a teenager…..sounds about right douchebag.

            Big difference is that Ben is a respected member of this community and Ricky is a grown man advocating pathetic means of getting points such as returning luxury items at department stores…..super lame

            1. AA

              Hey NOP,

              I read your criticism here.
              While pretty harsh – still many valid points from a person who clearly has a LOT of experience in that. I personally prefer straight shooters, rather than phony dudes.
              R u from Toronto area? Have couple questions and will appreciate to contact you directly (off the forum). My email is 6277242@gmail.com
              Shoot me a message if you’re interested and able.
              Thanks.

              1. Alex YWG

                I would like to just say that I enjoy reading about Ricky’s and how he manages to get all the perks. He is very clear on what works and what to watch out for which is very handy for Canadians since most of the other travel bloggers are geared mostly to the US customers.

                Would I take the exact same trips as him, in some cases, yes but not in all cases. What Prince of Travels provides is the possibilities and the tools to achieve your goals. It could be a family vacation of 5 in economy or a luxurious trip around the world in 1st class and premium hotels or even a trip to see how far you can push your points to see as many countries/places as possible in 1 redemption.

                Everyone has their own style and goals. You coming on here and dumping on him because their travel goals are different than yours is a bit much.

                I like how Ricky pushes the envelop of his luxury trips but also gives us alternatives and what to watch out for.

                Keep up the good work and I cant wait to see how other rewards program fit into your plans with AP being such a mess currently (but hopefully fixed for spring 2020 with segment by segment booking back without jumping through hoops)

  6. Murray

    The NZ part of your trip looks really good. As a kiwi a couple of suggestions.
    Auckland – catch the ferry (20mins $10 or so) to Devonport. Have lunch over there and walk to the naval museum and up the old gun emplacements on the hill (30 – 45 min walk) great views of Auckland. Hire an Elec scooter and go from the city along Tamaki drive to mission bay or all the way to st Helier’s approx. 10km it’s a fantastic seaside road (where I live).

    Queenstown – just open your wallet and spend, every adventure activity you can imagine. We were there for 4 day last weekend with the kids and had a great time.

    There is a new app called firsttable.co.nz gives you 50% of meal (not drinks) with 100’s of restaurants all over the country. We used it 4 times in Queenstown and saved $100 on each meal. I cannot recommend highly enough No5 restaurant it was one of the best meals I have had in years. We shared maybe 8 mixed veg and meal plates and some were truly world class.

    Be careful driving in NZ lots of tourists in south island and every year several drive on the wrong side of the road in error and crash.

    Hint on Air New Zealand. you can check in online from midnight on your flight day . Do so immediatley and if you are lucky score one of the extra legroom seats in the first several rows for free.

  7. Stainless

    Just one word … Nice!

  8. Ankur P

    Sounds like an amazing trip! I always enjoy reading your booking experiences and thought processes.

    I didn’t quite figure out when you’re headed on this trip, but Maui in general is hot, muggy and (in the winter) rainy. There is also a lot of driving around. I don’t know how familiar you are with Jeep Wranglers, but they’re not exactly comfortable rides (being made for open-air offroading and all). If you like having good A/C and quiet/smooth driving, you might want to consider a different rental.
    That being said, Maui has some super scenic drives (Hana, Haleakala for the sunrise and hike back down) that I imagine you’ll enjoy a lot! I hope you’ll visit the other islands (Kauai and Hawaii – The Big Island) in the future too! Each of them is quite unique!

    Look forward to your trip reports!

    1. Ricky

      The Jeep has certainly been quite the adventure so far, and I imagine our little car in NZ will be much cozier. Renting a Jeep seems like a bit of a tourist ritual here in Hawaii, which I don’t exactly mind too much from time to time.

    2. Mike

      I agree. The convertible mustangs are super popular (and cheap) to rent in Hawaii and a much more comfortable ride.

  9. JL

    Well done Ricky, another great post.
    It’s always a pleasure to read about your first-hand booking experience.

Ricky Zhang

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