Special-interest travel is one of the fastest growing travel segments for New Zealanders heading overseas.

The Australian state of Victoria has had a big increase in the number of Kiwis crossing the Tasman for special events.

The number of Kiwis heading to the Melbourne Cup is up 30 per cent in the past two years to around 10,000 while 12,000 more make the Australian Open tennis in the second fortnight in January.

Visit Victoria's New Zealand regional manager Joanna Garrie said increasingly travellers were looking for a purpose around there travel for repeat visits.


''People are not going to want to come to Melbourne every year for the sake of [it]. We do want to give them new reasons to come back and that special interest is absolutely booming.''

There were more than 1.2 million seats across the Tasman to Melbourne every year and thousands of New Zealanders would be attracted to other events such as the International Film Festival, Fast5 Netball World Series and an exhibition celebrating 70 years of the House of Dior.

Events were important for destinations.''It's another reason to travel and a reason to travel now. Otherwise Australia is just there,'' said Garrie.

During the past 12 months to March the number of Kiwis visiting Victoria has grown nearly 4 per cent over the previous year to 336,100. Growth during the past decade was 51.3 per cent.

Travel agents say many holidaymakers are no longer satisfied with formulaic type trips.

''When you went to London it was Big Ben,'' said House of Travel founder Chris Paulsen.

''What's evolved over time is that Kiwis want to go to a destination and want to experience it more in depth and experience through their own interests, whether that be cycling, food or wine. They want to take their lifestyle on holiday with them.''

His network of agents in 76 branded shops throughout the country was increasingly catering to couples and groups of friends with common interests and intergenerational family groups.


Flight Centre New Zealand managing director Dave Coombes said millennial travellers were driving another trend, going to places where they volunteer for environmental or social projects.

Independent travel brokers, which Flight Centre had bought into this week, had clients with specialised interests including travelling the world to Star Wars and Disney conventions.

Booking.com says that in Belize travellers are now volunteering for Discover Corps team by counting the manatee population, monitoring their health, and measuring key environmental factors. In San Francisco travellers can volunteer for International Bird Rescue to help with all stages of the bird's care, from rescue to release.

At the other end of the market the pampering business is growing and popular with travellers.

According to the Global Wellness Institute's wellness economy monitor, the global spa market grew 2.3 per cent between 2013 and 2015, resulting in a $150 billion market. Between 2013 and 2015 the number of new spa locations increased worldwide from 105,591 to 121,595.

Travel Corporation offers holidays through brands including Trafalgar and Contiki.

Director of marketing Tony Laskey said cheaper air fares were allowing travellers to return to Europe more frequently.

After an initial more general tour of a number of countries they would go back to zero in a specific region or participate in a particular activity.

Contiki was now tailoring its tours to more styles of travel from ''easy pace'' to ''high energy''.

The tours used to be built around the style of accommodation but were now increasingly based on the different experiences customers wanted, said Laskey.

• Air New Zealand is growing its Vancouver-Auckland operation by nearly 20 per cent from January to July next year, making it easier for New Zealanders to go skiing in Canada.

The airline will kick the increases off by moving from seven to eight weekly services during the first half of January peak period.

Frequency of services will also grow over the shoulder season with the airline moving from five weekly services to daily flights during February, and increasing to five services a week in March and April (up from four) and four weekly services during May - mid-June (up from three).

Air New Zealand chief revenue officer Cam Wallace said the airline recognised how popular Canada was as a winter destination for Kiwis.

"We also see the value in increasing services to New Zealand for Canadian tourists, allowing them to escape the winter and enjoy a chance to experience our beautiful summer and the tranquillity of New Zealand through the shoulder season."

Air New Zealand is expanding services around the Pacific Rim, in the past fortnight announcing more flights to Japan and Bali.