Air New Zealand aspires to make our country a top-ten destination for Argentines but says that goal could take at least three years to reach.

The airline last night hosted a formal dinner at El Zanjon, a building near the site where some historians place the first settlement of Buenos Aires almost half a millennia ago.

Guests on the night included Argentine tourism representatives and some of the region's ambassadors.

The entertainment included New Zealand singer Stan Walker, who treated the crowd to numerous performances with two Kiwi back up-dancers.

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A kapa haka group made up of Air New Zealand staff also took the stage, as did local Argentine tango dancers.

The event was part of the formal celebration of Air New Zealand's first scheduled Auckland-to-Buenos Aires service, which touched down in Argentina on Tuesday and will now fly both ways three times a week.

The airline is now hoping to help entice Argentinians to New Zealand. Around 4000 visited the country in the year to September and in a listing of the places Argentines want to visit, New Zealand ranks 48th.

We need to make Argentinians aware of New Zealand and there's a market development job to be done. So you've got to have aspiration and why not the top 10?"

Air New Zealand executive Stephen Jones told those at the event that he hoped the country could get into the top ten of that list.

Watch: Air NZ touches down in Argentina:

Air New Zealand's flights from Auckland to Buenos Aires begin today, boosting competition in the travel market between this country and South America. Among the passengers on this evening's inaugural flight is former All Black captain Richie McCaw, who recently re-signed as an Air New Zealand brand ambassador for a further two years.

"We need to make Argentinians aware of New Zealand and there's a market development job to be done. So you've got to have aspiration and why not the top 10?" he said to the Herald after his speech.

Asked how long it would likely take for that to happen, Jones said:

"Look, I would say it has to be over a three-year timeframe at a minimum because the Argentinians their nature place to go is North America or Europe just based on their historical connections. And so for us to then start to build that preference up, there's a job to be done by Air New Zealand but also by Tourism New Zealand and also I think working together with Australia because it's not just [about] coming to New Zealand, it's a New Zealand-Australia dual destination."

He also said during his speech that ticket sales for the new Auckland-Buenos Aires route had exceeded expectations.

Watch: Richie McCaw on long-haul flying (and horses):

Air New Zealand's flights from Auckland to Buenos Aires begin today, boosting competition in the travel market between this country and South America. Among the passengers on this evening's inaugural flight is former All Black captain Richie McCaw, who recently re-signed as an Air New Zealand brand ambassador for a further two years.