A third of high net worth travellers like New Zealand so much they are returning within five years as the world's wealthy ditch luxury items like handbags for travel experiences.

A new report on the market by Tourism New Zealand also shows spending on accommodation within Luxury Lodges of New Zealand grew by 42 per cent in the year to March, 2017.

Although the network of more than 30 luxe properties doesn't publish revenue figures, the cost of accommodation can be over $3000 a night per person, depending on the time of the year. The ultra wealthy could spend between $50,000 and $100,000 on a trip to New Zealand. Large multi-generational family groups could spend more.

The luxury market has been targeted by Tourism NZ for the past four years and this country has been recognised by global luxury travel specialists, Virtuoso, as within the five destinations in the world for the coming year.

Advertisement
Helena Bay luxury lodge owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Abramov. Photo / Greg Bowker
Helena Bay luxury lodge owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Abramov. Photo / Greg Bowker

This country rates fifth equal with Australia as the top global destination behind top placed Italy, Iceland, South Africa and France.

Lisa Gardiner, Tourism New Zealand's manager premium and business events, said attracting people who had the ability to travel anywhere in the world was challenging and it was an extremely competitive market.

"New Zealand is proving attractive as a place the world's wealthy can escape to and experience a personalised itinerary that incorporates world class luxury accommodation and activities," she said.

"A lot of the key luxury trends that we're definitely benefiting from is the global trend towards experiences over things - they talk about it being bad news for handbags good news for travel."

It is estimated that there are 145,200 individuals with wealth in excess of US$30million ($43m) and 1.4 million people with wealth between US$5m and US$30m.

Tourism New Zealand's marketing strategy focused on 15 million people within these top two tiers and key markets included Australia, the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany and Britain.

A global study, titled a Survey of Affluence and Wealth, showed travel was rated as the top passion (67 per cent) with spending quality time with family second on 65 per cent.

It is estimated that over the next 10 years the rate of outbound luxury trips will increase 6.2 per cent, almost a third more than overall travel.

Gardiner said very wealthy travellers were heavily influenced by peers with similar bank balances.

Lisa Gardiner, Tourism NZ's manager of premium and business events. Photo / Supplied
Lisa Gardiner, Tourism NZ's manager of premium and business events. Photo / Supplied

"We're encouraged that a high net wealth type of person will know seven other millionaires and one of who will be a billionaire. If we can get this great word of mouth going which they can when they come to New Zealand - this is a fantastic result," she said.

''The luxury traveller is really important for New Zealand's economy because they have the potential to spend more in one day than the average tourist spends during their entire stay.''

The luxury traveller is really important for New Zealand's economy because they have the potential to spend more in one day than the average tourist spends during their entire stay

SHARE THIS QUOTE:

Those in the luxury sector say New Zealand is attractive because of its scenery, increasingly sophisticated lodges and visitor attractions but also for its relatively simple experiences for high profile visitors such as having a coffee in a cafe without being recognised or fishing and hunting.

Tourism New Zealand was also seeing more multi generational travel among the wealthy and this placed unique demands on the market.

It was caused by several factors, from adults who were waiting longer to have children to parents who wanted their children to have deeper, more meaningful experiences while travelling as a family.

There was a need for options that accommodate those larger families and because of this there had been a surge in development of luxury cottages including at Blanket Bay Villa, Hapuku Lodge Owner's Cottage and The Boatshed on Waiheke Island opening early 2018.

Stonefly Lodge in Nelson was developing a new villa and this was set for completion next summer.

Tourism NZ said there was also an increase in new private luxury homes on the market for rent where guests enjoyed private chefs, butler services and private wine and art collections.

The America's Cup defence in 2021 would also help stimulate travel to New Zealand, said Gardiner. "We are picking up from offshore teams awareness of the America's Cup. There is enthusiasm for New Zealand - I would hope to see some great support around that."

Virtuoso's recognition of this country was a coup, she said.

United States-based Virtuoso is an invitation-only luxury travel network with a membership of independent travel agencies comprised of 15,200 luxury travel advisers in 20 countries around the world.

In its just published Luxe Report based on a survey of its advisers it says trends for 2018 included:

Cold is hot. Seasoned travellers in search of fresh destinations are setting their sights on chillier climes. Iceland continues to surge in popularity, placing high in several Luxe Report categories this year. Cruisers are enthusiastic about Alaska, and adventurers about Antarctica and the Arctic.

Exploring new destinations is the year's top trip motivator, and travellers are embracing the opportunity to push beyond their comfort zone. Virtuoso advisers suggest that people check out at least one new place a year, and challenge themselves to try something unexpected during their sojourn: swim with marine life like dolphins or mantas, go zip-lining or ballooning, or take a helicopter tour.

Connecting with family through travel. After topping the list of trends since 2010, multi-generational travel has firmly established itself as a travel niche. Following close behind is travel with immediate family, also a consistent trend that will carry forward in 2018.

Experience Africa. Virtuoso's advisers say a safari is an integral part of the African experience, particularly with wildlife preservation a priority for today's sustainably savvy travelers.

Be a traveller rather than a tourist. Immersive experiences not found in a guidebook or brochure, opportunities to meet locals, wandering neighbourhoods and making spontaneous discoveries are the best ways to experience a destination, according to the advisers.