While she's been working the skies between New Zealand and the USA, Jess has developed a real passion for Houston. Here are some of her ideas for a terrific time in Texas.
Flights to Houston
There's a lot to see, do and eat in Houston, but where do you start? Get straight to the good stuff with tips from a member of our air crew who visits the city often. Watch our video, then find our cheapest flights to Houston from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. Your next holiday could be a Texan-size adventure.
Load up with Texan BBQ!
"The only thing better than the aroma of beef brisket slow-cooking in a smoker oven is sitting down to eat it. Houston is famous for its barbecue joints and Goode Co. is one of the best examples in the city - simply line up with your tray and serve yourself some Southern goodness."
See what you can find at Discovery Green
"Discovery Green is a park with a difference. The whole idea with this huge central-city green space is to provide visitors with a glimpse of the cultural and creative things that make life in Houston unique and fun. Everything's free!"
Find a cool garden bar
"Houston's warm climate has hatched a great selection of outdoor bars. There are plenty to choose from, but my favourite is the Axelrad beer garden. It has hammocks and live music, and at night the place lights up with LEDs - like a bar in an urban fairytale."
Catch an unforgettable sunset
"Called 'Twilight Epiphany Skyspace', this phenomenal piece of art uses light, space and the sky to wow audiences seated beneath it. It's installed at Rice University in the Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion and the best time to watch is at dusk. Sometimes there's music with it."
Visit when the Carnival's in town
"Houston's Carnival season starts around the end of February and runs for three weeks. There's music, livestock and all kinds of western-style events, including a BBQ contest. A massive ferris wheel called La Grande XL pops up as part of the fun."
More about Houston
As America's fourth largest urban centre, Houston has always been a big deal. It's widely regarded as the most restaurant-oriented city in the USA. This reputation draws in crowds of both up-and-coming and established chefs, so exceptional food comes with the territory. Between meals, you can discover American Civil War heritage, space technology, theatre, dance and a fizzing live music scene.
What to do and where to go in Houston
As modern as it's become, Houston is a city that's steeped in history. The state of Texas has changed hands a number of times in its past and during the American Civil War it featured on both sides of the argument. History buffs will find fascinating war memorials, the most impressive of which is undoubtedly the San Jacinto Battle Monument and Museum.
The city's packed with nature, art and unforgettable food - and you can't go past NASA.
As far as entertainment's concerned, there's everything from balloon rides, kayak trips and bike trails to exploring the famous Houston Space Centre, plus some relaxed options if you prefer taking things a little slower. Get out to the beach or discover some of the huge city parks, then duck inside one of many local galleries to cool off and take in the stunning artworks.
Wherever you go in Houston, an exceptional food experience is just a tummy rumble away. While famous for its Tex-Mex flavours, this city has been expanding its culinary repertoire in recent years. You can chow down on a bao, dip into Deep South cuisine or follow your nose to an authentic barbecue restaurant where meltingly tender smokehouse meats take 24 hours to cook. Wherever your appetite leads you, you'll find that Houston's food has a lot of soul.
Keep exploring Houston
Best time to go
The most popular times to visit Houston are late winter/early spring (February through to May) and late autumn/early winter (October-November).
How much will it cost?
Not including air travel and hotels, you should allow about USD $150 to $200 a day per person for food and entertainment.
Houston is in the Zika virus zone, so take or buy mosquito repellent.
Auckland (AKL) to Houston (IAH)
Wellington (WLG) to Houston (IAH)
Christchurch (CHC) to Houston (IAH)
Queenstown (ZQN) to Houston (IAH)
*Flight times are based on the fastest route available.
**Indirect flights may also be available for this route.
Redefining the long haul experience
Air New Zealand voted the 'Best Airline in the World'
Air New Zealand has been named the 'Best Airline in the World' in the latest Condé Nast Readers' Choice Awards for its innovative and customer-focused travel offerings. Read about the Best Airline of the World award.