A group of Hawke's Bay friends will be celebrating a milestone on the beaches of Hawaii, thanks to Air New Zealand's cheap airfares.

Napier residents Jan and Steve Clark bought their tickets to Hawaii yesterday because they'd heard there was an airfare deal coming out and "jumped at the chance".

The money saved from the reasonably priced tickets might go toward something in Hawaii, Ms Clark said.

"It's always good to get something cheaper anyway."


The Clarks and two other couples will be making the trip to celebrate their 50th birthdays.

Ms Clark said: "There's just one of us not turning 50 this year.

"We'd all talked about doing something special, and then someone said 'Hawaii Five-0' and it just stuck."

They didn't have any concrete plans for their August adventure but were hoping to relax and take some day trips to the different islands.

The couples aren't the only Hawke's Bay people making the most of Air New Zealand's cheap fares.

Grabaseat this week offered return flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco for $788, to Houston for $848 and to Shanghai for $798.

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said lower fuel costs, an expanded fleet and increased competition would pull down domestic and international prices.

Jennings United Travel Napier owner Stephen Jennings said many were getting in on the cheap fares.

They had been waiting for the deals and were now taking advantage of them and making some good savings.

Mr Jennings said the cheap flights had been on par with recent years and he hoped fuel costs and airfares would remain low.

Mr Jennings said there was particularly good interest in new Vietnam and US flights.

He said there was some frustration within the community with cheap travel overseas while flights to regional New Zealand remained expensive.

The cost of flying to Napier was "ridiculous" compared to the cost of travelling between bigger cities within New Zealand and that had to have an impact on tourism, he said.

Hastings House of Travel owner Jenny Nilsson said there were a lot of people on the move, and when there were cheaper tickets people were spurred on to travel.

She too had seen a huge influx of travellers heading to Vietnam and the US because there were direct flights there with Air New Zealand.

An Air New Zealand spokesperson said 640 seats, or 320 return trips, across to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Tokyo and Shanghai were made available on its Grabaseat website on Wednesday morning.

More than 200 trips had been snapped up by late Wednesday afternoon.