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Old Aug 3, 19, 5:51 pm
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: New Zealand (most of the time)
Programs: Air NZ Elite *G, Honors Gold, IHG Platinum Elite
Posts: 5,062
The answers to your questions are yes and no. You can change to any flight that is the same route it does not matter about the airline.

The only "catch" (and it doesn't apply in your case but for US based people who are used to creating their own routing it could well be) is that the alternative flights have to be a ticketable option - ie if you look at the Air NZ timetable between Tauranga and Christchurch as an example there will probably be around a dozen options on a typical day that include direct and indirect options via Auckland and Wellington. You can change to any of these options, but can't go and make up your own routing for example that would take you Tauranga - Auckland - Wellington - Christchurch.

Many people buy the cheapest fare and change it on the day. You just need to be aware that on some regional routes there may be limited or no availability to change on the day if flights are full due to a big event or similar.
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