When I did this a number of years ago, on the same route, and still true now, it was on United. You may be able to get a good deal on the connecting transcon flight. You would get a load of United FF
miles too. Try to get a flight from EWR
earlier than the one they may want to give you, as should allow at least 2-2.5 hours to connect in LAX
from the EWR
leg to the LAX
-AUK leg. Flights to/from AUK will go through Bradley International terminal, different from the domestic terminals. You may want to consider flying EWR
leg the day before and stay in a nearby hotel overnight in LAX
area - helps to break up the jet lag. Don't forget the LAX
-AUK leg is a 12 hour flight.
Once you are down there, you may want to do something I did, that is take a plane from Aukland on NZ
Air to Christchurch on the south island, and start your journey there. You could rent a car from Christchurch, drive it all around the South Island, drop it off at the ferry station at the northern tip of the South Island, take the ferry across by foot, and rent another car in Wellington. NZ
is an fantastic place to visit - outstanding scenery, excellent roads, reasonable prices, good people and food. Visit the NZ
tourism websites for ideas on where to go and how to get around.