Just home after 17 days on South Island and will be posting several topics - this one on our flying experience - not specifically South Island related but is relevant to those planning flights.
Coming from Australia we have always used Qantas due to Frequent Flyers but on this occasion flew Emirates into Christchurch - well worth it and I am still amazed it only takes two and a half hours - I would be there every month if we were that close, but alas we live in Perth, so add another 4-5 hours flying time.
On returning home we flew out of Queenstown airport on Air New Zealand. Really happy with the airport, staff and especially the service on board. I imagine everyone has different experiences but in general the air crew on Emirates and Air New Zealand ran rings around the Australian crews on Qantas - I would even forego Frequent Flyers and experience a better level of service rather than fly on an airline where staff go out of their way to avoid contact with passengers and don't seem to have a smile option. I understand they work hard and it's not easy - but given a choice between a few airlines it may come down to how passengers are treated on board.
Also interesting to not the statistics on on-time performance out of smaller airports like Queenstown - Air New Zealand tops the list while Qantas are known to cancel more readily.
Hope that helps