Kiwis stretch wings on holidays

By Amelia Wade

Air New Zealand's flights to Indonesia have become very popular.
Air New Zealand's flights to Indonesia have become very popular.

Kiwis are taking more lengthy overseas holidays, but between the extended escapes we're also taking quick trips over long weekends.

And Asia is the hot up-and-coming destination not only for intrepid travellers, but for those wanting a touch of luxury on a river cruise.

Figures obtained by the Weekend Herald from Statistics New Zealand show the number of people heading off overseas for a holiday has increased by more than 11,500 since 2003.

House of Travel's retail manager, Brent Thomas, said Australia had become almost a domestic flight in recent years, with people popping across the Tasman for two or three days.

This was because of cheaper and more frequent flights.

"But this year because we had a fantastic summer, the booking numbers for short-haul were pushed down," Mr Thomas said.

"Typically we see in the first couple of months of the year people book in their winter travel, but that came late this year.

That doesn't mean the numbers are going to be down, just delayed."

Flight Centre travel statistics show Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil and Samoa as having the top booking increases in the year to June, compared to the previous year.

The travel agency's managing director, Mike Friend, said the increase in travel to these destinations was because of a combination of factors, including affordability, accessibility and Kiwis expanding their horizons on international travel.

"Kiwis still love travelling to Australia and the Pacific Islands. However, the latest information confirms they are looking for diversity when it comes to international travel.

"Samoa is a great example of this because it's an excellent alternative to the usual Fiji or Cook Islands beach break and we have seen almost a 90 per cent increase in bookings."

Mr Friend said direct services being offered by Air New Zealand to Indonesia had resulted in a booking increase of almost 110 per cent year on year.

"The new services that were introduced last year really opened up a new destination to Kiwis."

Flight Centre's general manager of product, Dave Coombes, said New Zealanders were also increasingly taking cruises on their holidays and river cruises were an expanding corner of the market - anywhere from Europe to Vietnam.

Flight Centre is holding its annual Midyear Travel Expo featuring Asia, USA, Canada, Hawaii, the South Pacific and Australia tomorrow at the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane. Admission is free.

- NZ Herald

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