Despite receiving widespread praise for its COVID-19 containment, New Zealand waited until September of this year to finally lift travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic. Naturally, the island nation is frantically preparing for the anticipated influx of international visitors in the coming year, particularly in Auckland.

Air connectivity with the United States is stronger than ever. Six American cities are currently served by nonstop flights; Air New Zealand’s nearly 17-hour flagship from New York City, the world’s fourth-longest, debuted in September. Qantas, an Australian airline, has also announced that it will begin operating a direct flight to New York City in June 2023.

In the mean time, Auckland’s jam-pressed occasions schedule is by all accounts getting the ball really rolling. The well-known Lantern Festival will return in February 2023 to commemorate Chinese New Year after a three-year absence. After a two-year hiatus, Pasifika, the largest Pacific Island cultural festival in the world, will return in March 2023. In addition, the quadrennial FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will move to nine host cities in New Zealand and Australia in July, with the games in Auckland taking place at Eden Park.