Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Hottest new holiday spot

Kiwis flock to Hawaii this winter as it overtakes Fiji as our favourite place in the sun

Cara Postlewaight (left), Natalia Igumnova, Peter Bromhead, Leanne Temple, Erika Rodriguez Parker and Emma-Jane Fraser in Hawaii to celebrate the cartoonist's birthday.
Cara Postlewaight (left), Natalia Igumnova, Peter Bromhead, Leanne Temple, Erika Rodriguez Parker and Emma-Jane Fraser in Hawaii to celebrate the cartoonist's birthday.

Kiwis migrating north this winter are flying further than ever before.

Travel agents say Hawaii is soaring up the ranks for Kiwis' winter holiday escape, with one saying bookings to the United States' 50th state were up 150 per cent since last April.

Prime Minister John Key has taken his family to their holiday home on the Hawaiian island of Maui for the past five years, but ticket prices have put the destination within the reach of regular Kiwis.

United Travel Westgate branch travel manager Lesley Johns said the surge in popularity was the result of Hawaiian Airlines entering the New Zealand market. The airline ended Air NZ's monopoly on the Auckland-Honolulu route when it began operating three flights a week in March.

"It's a very hot spot at the moment. We're seeing huge increases because it's an alternative for people who have already done the Fiji, Vanuatu, Cook Islands thing and are looking for something new."

She said Hawaiian Airlines, which now carried about three-quarters of her Hawaii-bound customers, also had a 64kg baggage allowance, almost three times that of Air NZ.

"We've got people going over there to do their Christmas shopping."

The Cook Islands remained the most popular destination for her customers, but Johns said Hawaii had rocketed up from a ranking of six or seven in 2012 to second place this year. Fiji was in third place.

The biggest losers appeared to be other Pacific Island destinations such as Samoa, Vanuatu and Tahiti, but none had taken action to stem the northward flow, she said.

Flight Centre executive general manager Mike Friend said Kiwis were taking advantage of increased competition between airlines and a strong Kiwi dollar. Bookings to Tahiti in April had increased by 150 per cent.

Stella Travel Services head of marketing David Libeau said Hawaii was growing in popularity with their United Travel and Harvey World customers, but Fiji and the Cook Islands were still selling well.

They had always faced competition from Australian and Asian beach spots, but were still close, cheap and family friendly, Libeau said.

Hawaii 8-0: Cartoonist's beach celebration

Young-at-heart octogenarian Peter Bromhead (picture) is contributing to the surge in Kiwis flocking to Hawaii - in his own inimitable way.

The award-winning Herald on Sunday cartoonist travelled to the island of Maui on Thursday with an entourage of nine - his wife Carolyn, their two young sons, and six young and attractive female friends.

The trip was organised by Carolyn to celebrate her husband's 80th birthday. As well as their sons, aged 7 years and 18 months, she invited three of Bromhead's favourite waitresses, two women who had worked for him and one who looked after their youngest son.

"It's been a bit like trying to herd cats, but it's a lot of fun," Bromhead says. "I'm not playing around with any of these girls, they just look good."

His party of 10 had not turned any heads at the five-star Four Seasons Resort where they were staying: "They're used to seeing all sorts, movie stars," he says. "I wish I'd got a T-shirt with 'I'm a Mormon, eat your heart out'."

His wife organised the week-long holiday in secret over several months and he found out where he was going, and the company he would be keeping, when he arrived at Auckland Airport.

- Herald on Sunday

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