Head of the Avalon Waterways river cruising company, Patrick Clark, says the sector is riding a wave with Kiwi travellers. From 2012-2014, the New Zealand river cruising market across all brands has grown by 37 per cent and Avalon has had a fair share of that. Since they introduced their Panorama Class ships in 2011, Avalon's growth out of New Zealand has been more than 200 per cent.
Up the river
So what does the river cruise industry need? "New rivers," Patrick Clark tells Travel Wires. He says four out of five of their customers have taken an ocean cruise before and repeat business on the classic European rivers is huge. "Obviously Asia will grow. Maybe South America in future." Clark noted a French company had sold out a "dog-themed" cruise for Europeans who fancy taking their pampered pooches on holiday.
The Travel Corporation's family of brands, including AAT Kings, Adventure World, Contiki, Insight Vacations, Trafalgar and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, are donating $1 per booking worldwide to the TreadRight Foundation's support of the Wilderness Foundation - Africa, this Earth Day (April 22). Every dollar donated by the company will go directly towards the TreadRight Bat Hawk - a specially designed lightweight sport aircraft for patrolling against poachers, meaning more protection for threatened rhinos. treadright.org
Ski season is just around the corner and earlybird season passes are starting to trickle in. Mt Ruapehu is offering discounted season passes bought in April which will save you more than 25 per cent - Adult Season Passes will cost $495, down from $735, while a Youth Pass (18 and under) is $298, down from $425. A Child Pass (with an accompanying adult pass purchase or Life Pass) is $59. mtruapehu.com
Meanwhile, Heritage Queenstown is offering an Early Bird Ski Special of 10 per cent off the best available room rates on its website. The deal is available for bookings made 30 days or more in advance and is valid from June to October. heritagehotels.co.nz
Smoke-free in Russell
In other accommodation news, the Top 10 Holiday Park Russell has declared the property will be smoke-free from May 31, coinciding with World Smoke Free Day. It is believed to be the first holiday park in the country to do so.
More flights to the Philippines. From December, Air New Zealand is joining Philippine Airlines in flying direct to Manila. More flights means more competition and inevitably, lower prices. This is great news as long as competition doesn't get too tough for both carriers to hang in there.
We don't like...
Reader Roger Christophers is not a fan of how inefficiently our Ministry of Primary Industry (MPI) handles inbound passengers to Auckland. "When travelling into Australia you proceed through a non-declare lane without any waiting, here in Auckland 30 to 50 minutes is the norm, even with nothing to declare."
Tell us what you like and don't like in the world of travel. Email TRAVEL@NZHERALD.CO.NZ