I’m reading a book right now with a main character obsessed with Isfahan, Iran. After some googling around I decided it would be a cool place to visit. I like to combine two marathons into one trip so I decided to join New Zealand and Iran into one massive trip. It also follows my goal of pairing an expensive country (New Zealand) with a less expensive one (Iran).
In New Zealand, my target is the Motutapu Island Marathon on March 19th. The island looks gorgeous and it is only a 30 minute ferry ride from Auckland (huge plus). Auckland is the major hub for New Zealand and the date lines up well for my Iran marathon. Running the New Zealand marathon first helps to avoid cool fall temperatures in the southern hemisphere. Staying on the North Island makes sky diving in Taupo possible.
In Iran, my target is the Shiraz Marathon on April 9th. This is the only marathon in Iran so I did not have much choice here. Shiraz is about 8 hours from Isfahan and unfortunately the train service between the cities was recently discontinued. That leaves about an 8 hour bus ride or a 1 hour flight on a low cost carrier (Iran Air).
The goal here was business class on Star Alliance partners. I want to snipe the nicest business class products possible and avoid cumbersome routing.
Singapore Airlines is ideal for the outbound because it is one of the nicest airlines in the world. Unfortunately, routing through Singapore adds an extra connection and increases my travel time. I decided to go with:
IAD-NRT on ANA (12.5hr and 3hr layover)
NRT-AKL on Air New Zealand (11hr)**
**Be careful, ANZ sometimes sticks you in economy on this leg
Both have high ranking business class products and it times out to about 28 hours of travel time vs about 40 hours on a IAD-IST-SIN-AKL Turkish/Singapore flight plan.
The Inbound (Iran)
The return gets fun because of the stop in Iran. Getting to Iran on Star Alliance is a challenge and hopefully this will be easier as tensions between Iran and the West decrease.
AKL*-SIN on Singapore Airlines (10.5 hours) – every other day for 6hr layover vs 30hr
SIN-IST-SYZ on Turkish (12hr flight, 15hr layover, 4.5hr flight) – NIGHTMARE!
*Christchurch (CHC) on the South Island might be worth open jawing
This is almost a 43 hour itinerary and is pretty much reason enough to NOT do this trip.
The Inbound (USA)
SYZ-IST-IAD on Turkish (4.5hr flight, 7hr layover, 12hr flight)
You have to be pretty crazy to combine a trip to Iran and New Zealand using only Star Alliance. Best case scenario involves about 3 days of travel time. I think the best takeaway here is the IAD-NRT-AKL routing on ANA and ANZ. It seems like Istanbul and Iran are a solid city pairing but Auckland is just too far.