Packing the pooch, too

Last updated 05:00 08/06/2014

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If my social media news feeds are anything to go by, New Zealanders have a growing obsession with their pets.

Sharing the latest viral video of curious cats in funny places is one thing, but what's the plan when you want to take Mittens or Fido on holiday?

Sure, hanging out with your favourite mutt on the beach could be great, but it would involve extra costs, preparation and paperwork. Simply put, if you're heading overseas for a month long getaway - forget it.

Kennel or cattery accommodation at home is the closest your cat or dog will get to the Shangri-La.

The cost and hassle of air freight, customs and quarantine checks on the way out are huge, but getting your critter back into the country upon your return will make jetlag look like a piece of cake. And with our pristine ecosystem susceptible to foreign pests, that's the way it should be.

Luckily, domestic travel with man's best friend is becoming easier, with some growth in pet-friendly accommodation keen to attract animal-loving guests.

A recent Wotif survey found Rotorua, Wellington and the Canterbury region have the greatest proportion of pet-friendly hotels and motels, although nowhere near the levels of France and Italy. If you're booking a bach, make explicit your non-human travel companions, even if the photos show expansive lawns and gardens. Also be wary if you're headed close to DOC land or national parks, as precious flora and fauna could be damaged by a roving Rover.

Travel experts recommend calling ahead to any potential accommodation provider to find out what they offer and what they don't - a shih tzu may be more welcome than a St Bernard.

Some also don't allow pets to be left in the room unattended, so plan activities (and pet-sitters) ahead.

Arriving at a destination with pet in-tow can be a challenge. Driving is the obvious easy way to go, especially for shorter distances and, if the number of dog seatbelts on Trade Me is any indication, a very popular choice.

If you're taking your car between islands, both the Interislander and BlueBridge offer kennels for your pooch, at $15 and $10 for the one-way journey respectively. Otherwise, leave your dog in the vehicle during the Cook Strait crossing.

If time and distance are a factor, you can pack up your pet with your luggage and fly. While Jetstar doesn't offer pet freight services on domestic flights, Air New Zealand can fly cats and dogs domestically as checked luggage, with charges based on the combined weight of the animal and its secure cage. Fees range between $75 up to 26kg and $100 for pet freight above that.

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Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airports allow cats and dogs in secure cages in the airport, if they are about to head into the plane's luggage hold.

- Sunday Star Times


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