More than double the number of daily Kiwi flyers will take to the skies tomorrow as airlines and airports across the country brace for the busiest travel day of the year.
According to latest data from Webjet, New Zealand airports will experience a 109 per cent uplift in departures tomorrow, following a 94 per cent rise today.
Auckland will be the top destination for New Zealanders this festive season, followed by Brisbane, Christchurch, Melbourne and Wellington, according to Webjet experts.
Air New Zealand says it will carry more than six million customers between December 1 and the end of March next year.
The airline is expecting to operate 30,000 flights over December and January.
Air New Zealand customer experience general manager Anita Hawthorne said operational teams were gearing up for summer squeeze.
In previous years, congestion getting to and through the airport has caused problems and some passengers have missed flights. Auckland Airport has said it has measures in place to minimise the risk of a repeat this year.
Hawthorne said with so many people travelling to family gatherings or major concerts, it was important for travellers to protect themselves by buying domestic travel insurance.
"Every year events outside our control, such as bad weather, mean travellers' plans don't always go as expected, and domestic travel insurance is often one of the things Kiwis enjoying their summer break in New Zealand forget."
She said travellers should sign up to Air New Zealand's Travel Alerts service and ensure all their details were correct in case the airline needed to contact them in the event of a travel disruption.
Auckland Airport bosses revealed Saturday, December 22, and Sunday, January 6, would be their busiest travel days this summer; more than 43,000 travellers are expected to pass through the international terminal on each of the two days.
Auckland Airport operations general manager Anna Cassels-Brown said the main advice to travellers was to factor extra time into their journey — another half an hour was a good target — to make for a happier start to the happiest time of the year.
"We want people to arrive here in a good state, and to enjoy the experience, not find the first hour of their holiday frustrating because they're stuck in traffic."
Cassels-Brown also encouraged travellers to get themselves through the various checkpoints quickly.
Kiosk check-ins were generally quicker than those at the counter, and going through customs and security was best not left until the last minute.
"Once you get through immigration there's oodles of room because of all the new developments. We've done 36,000 square metres of refurbished space airside.
"[Once there] you're at leisure — you can shop, dine, go to a lounge, there are new artworks, fabulous views of the Manukau Harbour and we've also got an incredible lighting exhibit being installed over the weekend.
"Do the things you have to do, checking in, customs, security, and then your holiday begins."