A380 the star as Emirates' superjumbo starts flights to the Land of the Hobbits

Kiwis will get the chance to experience Emirates’ own big bird while tourists can more easily visit the Land of Hobbits when the carrier starts flying its Airbus A380 superjumbo between Dubai and New Zealand five times daily from October 30.

With the introduction of the double-decker flagship aircraft on Christchurch services, Emirates will be the first airline to offer regular scheduled A380 flights to and from the city on the South Island, where many scenes from Peter Jackson’s global smashi-hit film trilogy The Hobbit were filmed. The upgrade will see the world’s biggest passenger jet replace Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ERs on the the current daily Christchurch service from Boeing 777-300ERs. The use of the A380 also means the flight becomes one-stop rather than two-stop, with the removal of the enroute stop in Bangkok. There will now be just one stop in Sydney.

The launch of the Christchurch A380 flights will coincide with the introduction of the A380 on Emirates’ daily non-stop route between Dubai and Auckland. Emirates currently also operates three other daily A380 services between Auckland and Dubai and beyond via Australia (Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane).


Known as the Garden City, Christchurch is the main gateway to the South Island and is set on the Canterbury Plains. The picturesque Avon River runs through the middle of the city of more than 380,000 residents. The banks of the river feature cycle paths, the green expanse of Hagley Park and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

The South Island provided numerous locations for The Hobbit films and visitors can experience many of the scenes in person.

Perhaps one of the most famous is the location the director Jackson chose, the Pelorus River, to film the dwarves-in-barrels scene that appears in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Here, the dwarves were filmed floating in giant barrels down the river. Stephen Hunter, who played dwarf Bombur, called this experience “his favourite day on set”. Visitors can enjoy this exact location for themsleves with an easy riverside walk, or take a guided kayak tour.

More remote is Fiordland National Park. The Hobbit used the majestic Fiordland National Park for epic scenic shots. The scene where The Company of Thorin’s dwarves and the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins flee the mountains on the backs of eagles in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was filmed there also. Tourists can experience giant fiords and spectacular waterfalls with a helicopter flight or boat cruise. The grasslands of Te Anau Downs, meanwhile, provided the backdrop for chase scenes, while Mararoa Saddle doubled as the wildlands through which Thorin leads the dwarves.

Other tourist attractions include the International Antarctic Centre, the Christchurch Art Gallery and the start point for scenic journeys on the Trans Alpine passenger train.

Emirates is the only airline offering year-round scheduled A380 services to and from New Zealand.

The outbound EK412 will depart Dubai at 10:15 hours, connecting with southbound services from European destinations such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, London, Manchester and many more of Emirates’ 38 Europe services. EK412 will stop only in Sydney before arriving in Christchurch at 13:50 hours the next day (local time). The return flight EK413 will depart Christchurch at 18:45 hours, touching down in Dubai at 05:15 hours the next day after its stop in Sydney, reducing the journey time to Dubai and Europe by about two hours in each direction.

At the same time, the Dubai service to Auckland via Sydney, will let travellers explore South East Asia or Australia en route as this service, EK418, will operate via the popular hub that is Bangkok, as well as Sydney. Flight EK418 will depart Dubai at 08:55 hours and arrive in Auckland at 15:55 hours the following day (local time). The return service, via Sydney and Bangkok, operating as flight EK419, will depart Auckland at 16:30 hours and arrive in Dubai the following morning at 06:45 hours.

The introduction of the new service will also mean Sydney-based travellers will have a wider choice of routings and timings on A380 flights, with the Christchurch A380 in addition to two current daily Emirates A380 services plus partner Qantas’ A380 service to Dubai.

All New Zealand services will continue to offer three classes of travel – first, business and economy.

So why not hop onboard the Emirates A380 flight to New Zealand and experience the wonderful world of Bilbo Baggins, Bombur and Thorin for yourself?

chnelson@thenational.ae

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