TravelStories Episode 22: Talking New Zealand and Australia

Planning a trip to New Zealand and Australia? Are you wanting to craft the perfect blend of flights, hotels, and attractions and create an unforgettable journey? Then don’t miss out on today’s valuable insights from our special guest, Joe Cheung! Joe shares his recent family adventure, covering everything from Air New Zealand flights, the Skycouch, and hotel bookings in Auckland to experiencing the FIFA Women’s World Cup. He also delves into the logistics of renting a car, exploring the Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves, A380 seats and flights, and provides an in-depth look at their stay in Sydney. Tune in to discover Joe’s strategies for finding New Zealand and Australia travel awards, why not all Koala encounters are made equal, and so much more!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • [00:20] Introduction to today’s topic and special guest.
  • [02:40] A quick recap of Joe’s trip to New Zealand, Australia, and California. 
  • [03:35] A travel story about Air New Zealand: why Joe decided to fly with them.
  • [07:20] Joe expands on his experience with the Air New Zealand Skycouch.
  • [10:40] Leveraging his occupation as a travel agent.
  • [12:50] Joe talks about a different aspect of being a travel agent that he doesn’t handle.
  • [15:10] Auckland: booking the hotel and the technicalities of the family rate.
  • [18:45] Thoughts on the Park Hyatt Auckland.
  • [20:00] Making use of the concierge (and whether it’s necessary) to book the family rate.
  • [21:14] How they got the FIFA Women’s Soccer World Cup tickets.
  • [23:38] His final thoughts on the World Cup.
  • [26:15] Joe shares what his experience was like driving in New Zealand.
  • [27:30] Logistics surrounding the car rental process.
  • [28:30] More on the Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves Glow Worm Tours they took in Auckland.
  • [31:00] Driving on the other side of the road.
  • [33:15] Other day trips and attractions and why they went to Sydney.
  • [35:00] Economy is good for the soul.
  • [37:15] Finding 3+ seats in business is a challenge!
  • [38:20] The nice thing about the A380.
  • [40:25] More about the seats on the A380 (premium economy).
  • [41:20] Getting the Business Class Pajamas. 
  • [42:10] Joe takes us back to their stay in Sydney.
  • [44:00] His take on the choice between the Park Hyatt and the Hyatt Regency (Sydney).
  • [45:30] The Asian food experience in Sydney.
  • [47:30] What stood out about their time at the Taronga Zoo Sydney.
  • [49:55] Why the koala experience is not worth it, according to Tim.
  • [51:04] Trevor shares about the Healesville Sanctuary in Zoo in Badger Creek, Australia.
  • [52:12] Joe’s final notes on Sydney, and surrounding attractions.
  • [55:40] Thoughts on taking an extended driving trip through Australia.
  • [56:40] Joe’s strategy and the timeframe for finding awards to get to NZ and Australia.
  • [1:01:48] Why high balances do help.
  • [1:05:20] A quick revisit on the premium economy window seats for the A380.
  • [1:09:58] How to find Joe.


“The [Air New Zealand] Skycouch, for those who don’t know, is you can pay extra and the seats have footrests that can come all the way up so that you basically have a couch — they give you bedding and exclusive use of the couch.” — @asthejoeflies [0:07:20]

“Economy is good for the soul sometimes.” — @TktweetsKim [0:35:05]

“For our listeners who are doing their Australia planning, just be aware, that not all Koala encounters are created equal. Do your research!” — @TktweetsKim [0:50:47]

“I think [finding awards] for Australia and New Zealand it’s about patience and nerves of steel because you will almost never find the exact dates you want.” — @TktweetsKim [0:59:34]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Miles to Memory Podcast

Joe Cheung on Instagram

Joe Cheung on X

Joe Cheung Email

As the Joe Flies


Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand Skycouch


Virgin Atlantic

Park Hyatt Auckland

Mia Hamm on Instagram

FIFA Women’s World Cup

Waitomo Caves Tour

Hobbiton Tour



Saverocity Observation Deck – Miles, Points, and Travel Podcast

Meriton Suites World Tower – Meriton Suites Sydney

APX Hotels

APX Hotels Apartments

Park Hyatt Sydney

Hyatt Regency Sydney

The Taronga Zoo Sydney

Healesville Sanctuary

Blue Mountains Australia

Thomas Kim on X

Trevor Mountcastle on X

About the author

- Written by Sam Simon. All ideas are my own, but I encourage you to see my point of view and I promise I'll try to do the same. Connect with me on Twitter @Milenomics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *