Overall my experiences with Air New Zealand varied between abysmal and excellent.
We flew Air New Zealand from Vancouver, Canada to Melbourne ,Australia, Cairns Australia to Auckland and from Auckland back to Vancouver. We had excellent service, especially while flying with the flight crews themselves. We found attendants to be very conscientious, polite and helpful.
However, while in Cairns we experienced what I would have to say was the worst display of customer service we have ever had from any airline while checking in for our flight to Auckland. Our issue revolved around my taking a professional camera case on board rather than checking it in. My camera bag weighs approx 14 kg and was almost double the weight limit for Air New Zealand carry on luggage. For all of the other legs of our Air New Zealand flights and for all of our Virgin Australia flights within Australia (5 flights in total) I was able to make arrangements to have this bag taken on board and stored in the cabin. The Cairns Air New Zealand staff was completely inflexible and downright rude when I attempted to have this case taken on board. All attempts to resolve this issue with counter staff and their supervisor (s) were met hostility and rudeness.
The root of the problem stems from Air New Zealand’s (and all of the airlines flying in Australia and New Zealand) very limited weight restrictions for carry on bags. All travelers should be aware that they can’t take bags weighing more than 7 kg on to the airplane. Check in staff often weigh these bags to check their weight before you board so it can be very difficult to get these bags into the cabin.
But overall, with the exception of our Cairns experience we were very pleased with Air New Zealand.