Sure, Australia have a stunning coastline, some great food and wine and pretty decent coffee to match — but TV host Melanie Bracewell says Aussies should ditch their homeland for neighbouring New Zealand this year.
The Kiwi host of Channel 10's The Cheap Seats said for years she's been "laying the groundwork" to get more Australians over the ditch for their next holiday, and now borders have reopened — it's a better time than ever to book a flight.
Bracewell, in her new role as a 'secret' travel agent for NZ alongside Richard Wilkins, Ricki-Lee Coulter and Stan Walker – has the duty of essentially reminding the world what is unique and unmissable about Aotearoa.
Speaking to news.com.au about her home country, Bracewell said it's not a hard job to spruik a destination she's been passionate about since birth.
"Whenever I go there, even if you're working or other people are working you still feel like you're on holiday," she explained.
"There's such a relaxed, laid-back energy in New Zealand even if you are visiting for work … it's just chill.
"It's a small country that has so much to offer, so you can just drive two hours and you are at the beach. Then you've got the vineyards, you've got islands … you could travel the whole country in a few weeks and see a whole lot of different stuff.
"You don't have to be travelling big long roads to get somewhere, instead you can be there in 45 minutes and check out something totally different."
Bracewell said that while she loves Australia and many of us have spent the better part of two years exploring our own backyard, there's one thing New Zealand doesn't have that should come as a big selling point for holiday-makers weary of creepy-crawlies.
"I was trying to book accommodation in Australia, love Australia … and I looked and thought that [place] is nice … and it said we have the occasional spider and snake and I said, nope!" she laughed.
"Big plus in New Zealand is you can go anywhere and the worst-case scenario is a native worm or something. Mostly our native wildlife is prey, so you have nothing to worry about and you won't go to the middle of nowhere and get eaten by a snake, so that's a big plus about New Zealand."
Bracewell said that while people who go to New Zealand need little convincing to make a return trip, there are misconceptions about what a Kiwi holiday looks like — especially among younger travellers.
"I think people see a poster here or there, and they've been like 'oh you can go skiing', but what else?," Bracewell said of the misconceptions around a New Zealand holiday.
"I think people need to go [to New Zealand] when they are young, you want to go bungee jumping … you want to do all the fun and thrilling things while you're young.
"You don't want to go cliche. If you're posting a shot from Bali, people are going 'OK, so is everyone else.' But you go to New Zealand and you find spots that others haven't yet because there is just so much in New Zealand.
The quirky TV host said the best part of her home country is the ability to make it an "exciting multifaceted holiday".
"The convenience is part of the appeal because it literally is just jumping across the ditch," she said.
"People say it's a lot of Australia, but I would say New Zealand is very different having spent a lot of time in both places."
Bracewell's involvement in enticing Australians to visit New Zealand coincides with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's visit Down Under this week.
Ardern hopes to spend her time in Australia to lure locals to visit New Zealand, as the country finally scraps restrictions on overseas travellers after two years of relentless Covid rules.
New Zealand has now relaxed its rules around international visitors, as well as other measures taken to curb the spread of Covid.
"This trade mission is one of many steps this Government is taking to reconnect New Zealand with the world while actively strengthening partnerships between government, business and industry," Ardern said in a statement on Monday.
"I don't hesitate to say we missed you. And you will get a welcome like no other right now, because we're so excited to have people back.
"It's ski season in New Zealand. Look, in regular times, Australians made up of our international skiers about 71 per cent of the market. So Aussies love to ski in New Zealand. I can see why. It's easy, it's accessible.
"I would like to think I can be objective, it [New Zealand] is just the most beautiful place. "What I love as well is you can get that combination of being in cities but then being in proximity to nature, beaches, amazing walks, nature tourism and now food and wine – it's hard to have a bad meal."