Check New Zealand off Your Bucket List

Travelers, take heart, your world keeps getting a little smaller. Last year, American Airlines began nonstop service from LAX to Australia, and this year, it is expanding to include daily flights to New Zealand.

To celebrate the new bond between L.A. and Auckland, the iPic theater in Westwood recently played host to a celebration of the island nation that stood in for Middle Earth in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Media guests were treated to a live performance of traditional Maori songs, dances and, of course, war cries. The iPic screen, meanwhile, displayed the natural beauty of one of nature’s most pristine landscapes, featuring the tropical paradise of the North Island, the eclectic extremes of the South Island and the unique charm of New Zealand’s cities.

Photo credit: www.

Among the highlights of the evening was a taste of the farm-to-flight meals that passengers will be treated to on the 6,500-mile flight: Wakanui Beef Short Rib, Karengo Hapuka Snapper, Kahurangi blue cheese, Kipiti ice cream and Whittaker’s chocolates.

Completing the meal are a selection of wines curated by acclaimed winemaker, viticulturist and wine consultant Ken Chase, which includes the New Zealand Opawa Pinot Noir 2013 Marlborough and the Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc 2014 North Canterbury. For avid wine country travelers, your world just got a little larger.

American’s new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner flight is part of an ambitious three-year plan to open six new trans-Pacific routes, including Hong Kong and Beijing later this year.

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New Zealand’s wine country is now more accessible. (Photo by Scott Bridges)

Angelenos are hardwired for traveling whether by car or train or airplane. The urge to explore new frontiers is part of what it is to be from the Far West. And now that the Pacific Rim is easily within reach, Los Angeles is no longer at the edge of the world, it’s at the center of it.

Watch a video of the inside of the new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner that is flying between Auckland and Los Angeles.





Scott Bridges, writer

Scott Bridges is an L.A.-based journalist who has worked as a police-beat reporter, a community newspaper editor, and a food and travel writer. He currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to The Huffington Post and, among other sites. He is a native Californian who lives on the Westside.




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