From our little corner of the world, flying almost anywhere is a commitment, writes Shandelle Battersby, but a night or two on the way can help you stay fresh and hit the ground running once you arrive — as well as adding an extra dimension to your trip.
Flight time from Auckland: 11h 45m
Why: An alternative stop on the way to Europe, Argentina's capital is a perfect way to get a taste of its vibrant nightlife, rich history, culinary scene and arts and culture to see if you'd like to return someday. Plus, it'll help you get warmed up for the main event — known as the "Paris of Europe", Buenos Aires has influences from the Italians, Spanish and French, all with a Latin twist.
Leaving the airport: Ministro Pistarini International Airport is at Ezeiza, just over 30km from the city centre. There's a public bus but no train service so getting to the CBD will take you up to 50 minutes by car. It's worth checking whether your hotel offers a transfer service. Taxis are regulated by the government and should cost you around US$30 ($48). Note that rideshare apps are controversial in Argentina, so we'd recommend the cab option, at least from the airport.
How long should I stop for? Three nights would be a good start and once you're there, you'll find it's pretty cheap to eat and get around. In the same hemisphere as New Zealand but with hotter, more humid summers, the weather in Buenos Aires is most pleasant in the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn.
Don't miss: Argentina is mecca for all things meat and if you're a fan, you must visit a parrilla, or steakhouse, which come in all forms from street stalls to fancy restaurants. For an insight into the country's history, head for El Caminito ("little street") in the La Boca neighbourhood. Here you'll find a historic alleyway, or street museum, of colourful houses typical of the homes built by immigrants to the area in the late and early 20th century, sitting alongside walls painted by local artists, restaurants offering tango shows and an artists' market.
Flight time from Auckland: 12h 15m
Visa? You'll need an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), which you can apply for online for a few dollars.
Why: As well as being a gateway to the United States, this Californian metropolis is also a great place to stop en route to Europe, especially if you're in need of some sunshine and good vibes before or after your holiday.
Leaving the airport: LAX can be a little punishing after a 12-hour flight, but once you surmount the queues, security and traffic congestion to get into the city, it's good times.
Shared shuttles are a good option for getting to and from LA and its surrounding cities such as Anaheim, Santa Monica and Huntington - we'd use Karmel or Super Shuttle and book ahead - and are much easier than trying to navigate the public transport system. Rideshare apps will be banned from kerbside-pickup from October 29, but a frequent shuttle will transport passengers to a designated collection point near Terminal 1.
How long should I stay for? If you want to visit the theme parks we'd allow three to four days. If you're just interested in a little shopping and sightseeing, two to three days would be plenty.
Don't miss: The iconic Farmers' Market in West Hollywood is a local institution and next to The Grove, an open-air shopping, dining and entertainment complex which is great fun to wander around. If you want to do some celeb-spotting join a Hollywood tour which will take you by some of the houses or compounds of the likes of Gwen Stefani and Justin Timberlake; if spotting great art is more your style, check out new downtown contemporary art museum The Broad, which has free entry and more than 2000 works of art in its collection.
Flight time from Auckland: 8h 30m
Visa? You'll need an ESTA here too
Why: A relatively short hop from New Zealand, Hawaii is a beautiful spot to get you in the holiday spirit — it's warm, diverse, has great food and friendly people and, of course, lovely beaches and fantastic shopping. Plus, as an entry point into America, it has the added bonus of meaning you clear US Customs in a more relaxed environment — though be warned, the airport can get hectic and it's a good idea to give yourself plenty of time.
Leaving the airport: Ground transport at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport is limited to buses, taxis and Uber, but one of the easiest ways we've found to get to and from it is via the Roberts Hawaii Express Shuttle, which will get you to most places on Oahu for US$17 one way.
How long should I stop for? Two or three nights will do you on Oahu but the outer islands are all completely different and easily accessible, offering a different side of Hawaii definitely worth experiencing — a week on any of them would be a lovely bookend either side of a trip.
Don't miss: The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor has just reopened after an extensive restoration following flood damage, so a visit to this ship sunk by the Japanese in 1941 is once more a must-do. Though admission is free, you need to be organised, as entry to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial park is available on a first-come, first-served walk-in basis using mandatory time-stamped tickets available online up to two months in advance. If street art, craft beer, cool shops and hipster cafes are your vibe, head to the vibrant Kaka'ako neighbourhood near downtown.
Flight time from Auckland: 14h 55m
Visa? You'll need an ESTA here too
Why: The windy city is one of America's greatest destinations with exciting food, sports, arts and culture.
The airport: Chicago O'Hare Airport offers all the standard ground transportation options including the CTA Blue Line "L" train that will get you into downtown in 45 minutes for less than $10.
How long should I stop for? Three days will give you enough time to catch a baseball game, try some of the iconic food such as deep dish pizza and the local spin on hot dogs, and see some of the outdoor public artworks Chicago is famous for such as Cloud Gate or "The Bean", the big silver sculpture by Anish Kapoor in Millennium Park.
Don't miss: Get out on the iconic Chicago River if you can — either via one of the many river cruises on offer or by kayak if you're visiting during the warmer months. Take some time to explore the Chicago Riverwalk, a 2km boardwalk showcasing public art including Art on theMART, the largest digital art projection in the world at 25 storeys tall. Operating from Wednesdays to Sundays after sunset from March to December, the artworks take over one side of the art deco Merchandise Mart building using 34 projectors.
Flight time from Auckland: 10h 40m
Why: If, like us, you've explored the main Southeast Asian hubs in your travels around the globe, give the capital of the Philippines a whirl with a couple of nights in Manila en route to Europe, Asia, the US or the Middle East.
Leaving the airport: Ninoy Aquino International Airport is only 10km from the city centre and you have several options to get there: taxi, Grab (like Uber, but with a kiosk inside the airport so you don't need the app straight away, though you should download it in Southeast Asia anyway), bus or shuttle.
How long should I stop for? Perhaps one or two nights in the city, with a potential side trip to one of the country's many beautiful islands such as Cebu, Palawan or Simizu.
Don't miss: Spend a couple of hours exploring Intramuros, the former walled city built by the Spanish in the late 1500s, which has been partially restored since the US troops tore through it during World War II. The Fort Santiago citadel is the crowning glory here; don't miss the Rizal Shrine which tells the story of Jose Rizal, a hero of the Philippine nationalism movement in the late 1800s, who spent his last night in the fort before being executed by firing squad. And no visit to Manila is complete without hitting Binondo, the world's oldest Chinatown, for food, markets and shopping, while Makati is where it all goes down after dark, with dozens of buzzing bars, eateries and all-important karaoke venues.
Flight time from Auckland: 11h 40m
Why: Yes, Hong Kong is going through a tumultuous time with the pro-democracy demonstrations right now, but don't let that put you off a stopover at this major Asian hub. A stay here is never boring, with endless great food, shopping, nightlife and culture at your fingertips. Stopovers really don't get much better than this.
Leaving the airport: The Airport Express will get you into downtown Hong Kong — more than 40km away — in less than 25 minutes. However, it isn't your cheapest option at just over the $20 mark and you'll likely have to jump on the easy-to-navigate MTR once there. Buses are cheaper but if you've got a lot of luggage and there's a few of you, a taxi or Uber would probably work out better.
How long should I stop for? You could easily while away a week here, especially if you factor in the theme parks, but if you just fancy a night or two we'd hit up a market (the lively Temple Street Night Market in Kowloon will blow your mind, while the Ladies Market in Mongkok is also worth a wander), a few bars in Lan Kwai Fong and maybe a temple or two.
Don't miss: Hong Kong is home to one of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, Tim Ho Wan, a hole-in-the-wall dim sum eatery — make sure you also try the pork buns. And if it's your first time in the city, to get your bearings it really is worth heading up to Victoria Peak's Sky Terrace 428 on the steep Peak Tram, one of the world's oldest funicular railways. At the Sky Terrace, the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong at, you guessed it, 428m above sea level, you'll be rewarded with 360-degree views of the city and its neighbouring islands.
Flight time from Auckland: 10h 45m
Why: This tiny nation sure packs a lot into its 720sq km — shopping, eating, letting the kids blow off some steam … Singapore really has it all, and best of all it's compact and incredibly easy to get around.
Leaving the airport: You can actually stay at Changi Airport, voted the best in the world this year for the seventh year running, which is a destination in itself and worth arriving early to spend time at when you fly out again. Getting into the city couldn't be easier via a 30-minute taxi, Grab ride or the bus, but the MRT (metro) from the airport is so fast and cheap that you'd be silly to waste your money on either of those. Top tip: If you want to spend some time at the Jewel shopping, dining and entertainment complex attached to Terminal 1 landside (and you should), you can self-check in your luggage there early, leaving you free to shop, eat and explore.
How long should I stop for? Three days will give you enough time to include a meal in one of the ethnic quarters (Little India, Chinatown and Kampong Glam), a drink at one of the city's world-class bars such as C'est La Vie at Marina Bay Sands or The Long Bar at Raffles Hotel, and experience a little culture with a look around the excellent ArtScience Museum or National Gallery. The airport itself runs free 2.5-hour long City Sights Tours if you don't have much time.
Don't miss: Singapore is positioning itself as a "city in a garden" and there are lush green spaces everywhere, from Fort Canning Park in the CBD to the Instagram-friendly Gardens by the Bay nature park near Marina Bay Sands. Visit here around dusk so you can experience the complex both in daylight and after dark when the 25-50m tall Instagram-friendly Supertrees come alive during the Garden Rhapsody light and sound show (7.45pm and 8.45pm).
Flight time from Auckland: 11h 55m
Visa? Only if you're there for longer than 72 hours.
Why: Flying with China Southern Airlines is one of the most economical ways to get around the world (check out the Business Class prices too), and you get the benefit of up to 72 hours to explore fascinating Guangzhou, one of China's megacities.
Leaving the airport: High on the list of the world's busiest airports, Guangzhou Baiyun International is 34km from the CBD and currently accessible by the metro to some areas (with some under construction), express bus and taxi. China Southern also offers a couple of free city tours by bus or metro.
How long should I stop for? A night or two will give you a chance to get a feel for Guangzhou, eat some great Southern Chinese cuisine, explore a few of its attractions such as its interesting architecture (new and ancient) and visit one of its buzzing shopping areas such as Beijing Rd or the Shangxiajiu pedestrian street.
Don't miss: Well, it's impossible to miss anyway, especially at night — Guangzhou's top attraction is one of the city's most prominent buildings, the Canton (or Guangzhou) Tower, which looms above the city at 604m and was once briefly the world's tallest tower. Known locally as "Slim Waist" and "Twisted Firewood", the tower is a multi-purpose structure that houses an open-air skywalk, outdoor gardens, rooftop observatory, revolving restaurants and many other attractions including the world's highest vertical freefall at 30.5m, the Sky Drop, and 16 sightseeing cabins that spin around the top of the tower in a sort of horizontal ferris wheel, the Bubble Tram.
Flight time from Auckland: 11h 20m
Why: Taiwan's dynamic capital city has its own unique character and offers a different perspective of Asia if you've already passed through Hong Kong, Singapore and Guangzhou on your way around the globe.
The airport: Note that there are two international airports in Taipei — Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Taipei Songshan Airport, with the former the one you'd likely fly into. All the usual suspects are available for ground transportation but we'd go for the MRT metro system which will whiz you downtown within 35 minutes. Taoyuan Airport offers free half-day city tours twice-daily if you're in town for just a few hours.
How long should I stop for? Two days in the city, with another three or four to explore the surrounding regions — Taiwan is small with good public transport between cities and there are some pretty national parks worth visiting.
Don't miss: The Shilin Night Market is one of Asia's greatest and the perfect place to sample the street food, especially scallion pancakes and chou doufu, the famed stinky tofu the nation is famous for. The Taipei 101 tower, one of the world's tallest buildings at 508m tall, is a big drawcard too. Shaped like a bamboo stalk, the ride to the 89th floor in the lightning-fast elevator is worth the entry price alone. And you should definitely stop by the National Palace Museum to see some of the enormous collection of Chinese art liberated from mainland China by former Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek, who later became President of Taiwan. Also check out the imposing memorial to Chiang in Liberty Square atop 89 steps — his age when he died — and the tranquil 2-28 Peace Park, which honours those who died during an anti-government uprising in 1947.
Flight time from Auckland: 17h 10m
Why: It's a heck of a long way from New Zealand, but at least this way you get a lot of the flying out of the way in one hit — and once you're here the world is your oyster, with connections to more than 220 airports in 214 cities across 94 countries.
Leaving the airport: There are the usual options, including an inexpensive bus service, but the Dubai Metro from Dubai International would be our pick.
This huge city has only two lines making things easier, and the trains run all day until
midnight, though please note they don't operate on Fridays until after 1pm and that there is a carriage for women and children only. Top tip: Pay a little extra to get into the front carriage of the train so you can enjoy the views from the driverless front window.
How long should I stop for? If you want to visit the theme parks or the desert maybe three nights, otherwise two days would be plenty, especially if it's high summer.
Don't miss: The attractions in Dubai are all super-sized — it is home to one of the world's largest shopping centres (Dubai Mall), its tallest building (Burj Khalifa) and one of the most impressive aquariums you'll ever experience (Dubai Aquarium, found inside the Dubai Mall). If big things aren't your thing and for a taste of old Dubai, head for Dubai Creek to visit the fascinating alleyways of the spice, gold and textile souks.
Flight time from Auckland: 18h 5m
Why: Even longer than the Auckland-Dubai flight, this journey to Qatar's capital is currently the second-longest in the world after Singapore-New York. You'll need a stopover after that, trust us.
Leaving the airport: Qatar's Hamad International Airport is really close to downtown — 16km — so jump on an airport bus or grab a taxi or Uber.
How long should I stop for? Two days, especially during the hottest months — avoid July if at all possible. If your stop is for a minimum of eight hours, you can journey into the desert to Khor Al Adaid, the "Inland Sea". This Unesco-recognised natural reserve is one of the few places in the world where the sea reaches deep into the heart of the desert and it can only be reached by traversing rolling sand dunes in a 4WD.
Don't miss: The downtown area has much to offer, from the vibrant, colourful alleyways of Souq Waqif, the city's traditional marketplace, to the contemporary architecture of modern Doha. At Dhow Harbour you can see the traditional wooden vessels once used for fishing, pearl diving and trading, while over on the man-made island of Pearl-Qatar you'll get a glimpse into the luxe side of Qatar life with high-end dining and shopping.