In the final installment of our 50 Winter Holidays, we're packing light and looking for flights for a last minute long-haul break.
HANG 10 IN FLORIANOPOLIS
WHAT: Magnificent surf resort beaches on Santa Catarina Island
WHY: Because it's unlikely you've ever been, but you should go and soon.
Flights to the 600 square kilometre Brazilian Island state made it into the list of Kiwis' most searched destinations for the first time last year, with Skyscanner putting year-on-year growth at 78 percent.
WHEN: While the winter is a couple of degrees cooler (between 23-21 degrees), it tends to be a dryer and more stable time for visiting. As surf capital of Brazil, staying dry probably won't be a big concern. Joaquina Beach is famous for giant barrel waves with peak seasonal swell from July to August.
It's not all surf. Beyond the break you'll find the scenic mountains of the Mata Atlantica and the lunar landscape of Praia da Joaquina.
The city of Floripa, as the locals call it, was built by immigrants from the Portuguese Azores. It's still pretty good value. At the Feira Livre market you can eat your fill of seafood, stuffed pasta and sugar cane juice.
HOW TO GET THERE: LatAm flies From Auckland to Florianopolis, with changes in Santiago and Sao Paulo from $1300 return.
WINTER SUN IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
WHAT: Summer in the city
WHERE: Vancouver, Canada
WHY: Many Kiwis head to Canada for winter skiing, but it's also a great destination for the northern hemisphere's summer months. In fact, Vancouver - often voted one of the world's most liveable cities - is at its best from May to September, making it the perfect last-minute long-haul getaway. Vancouverites are an active, outdoorsy bunch with a reputation for being endlessly polite and positive. Sounds like a great alternative to spending winter surrounded by cold, miserable Kiwis back at home.
GETTING THERE: It's a 13-hour direct flight from Auckland with Air New Zealand. Air Canada enters the NZ market at the end of the year.
GETTING AROUND: Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft don't exist in Vancouver and car hire/parking is expensive. But you'll be well served by public transport, with most of the city's top attractions reachable by bus, train or ferry. This compact city is extremely walkable, or you can make use of the shared bike system, Mobi, and Vancouver's extensive network of bike paths.
WHAT TO DO: Don't miss Stanley Park - 400 hectares of forest, formal gardens and semi-wilderness, with a collection of totem poles carved by First Nations artists. Head over to Granville Island for food, theatre, crafts and markets. Visit the Museum of Anthropology to find out more about British Columbia's Aboriginal culture and history.
TOP TIP: Most tourists head to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, but locals know that Lynn Canyon is just as good - if not better - and it's free.
WHAT: Head outdoors and explore the Rockies from Colorado's rock city.
WHY: "Mile High" Denver is the perfect basecamp to get acclimatised.
Nearby Boulder is just half an hour's drive with a variety of hiking, biking and even river rafting packages in the Rockies.
Need a guide? Colorado Wilderness runs tours out into the mountains on a variety of activities. From multi-day hikes to a day on a mountain bike from $320 per person.
Music is central to the Red Rock State's calendar. While the number of pop festivals have dwindled, Telluride's Bluegrass Festival is still going strong.
From June 20-23rd Kacey Musgraves will be headlining this mountain side summer festival.
TOP TIP: Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a great slab of a landmark. Everyone from the Beatles to U2 have played this epic open air venue.
If rock'n'roll isn't your thing, the amphitheatre also caters for the clean living brigade. Red Rock Yoga runs every Saturday in June and July, which makes the most of the epic surrounds, and Film on the Rocks screens classic blockbusters for $25 admission.
HOW TO GET THERE: Air New Zealand flies via LA, with connections from United.
ON THE EDGE OF EUROPE
WHAT: Great Gates and better value beckon the adventurous to new Europe.
WHY: Ukraine has had a rough time lately. New Zealand's MFAT has issued "do not travel" warnings for Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk, and it is best to avoid these regions. Some would say you'd have to be mad to consider a holiday in Ukraine, but that hasn't stopped a huge surge in searches for flights to the capital Kiev. Kiev represents a European holiday at bargain prices, with quirky tourist draws that have made the city one of the surprise emerging travel destinations.
WHAT'S TO SEE: Between the onion domes of the Sophia Cathedral and the Kyevo-Pecherska Lavra is a curious mix of East meets West. Districts such as Andriyivsky Uzviz have the whimsical atmosphere of Paris's Montparnasse - but for a fraction of the cost.
For a true taste of Soviet Kitsch head to Spotykach, also in the Andriyivsky quarter. Mains are between $12 and $18, the menu is made of revamped classics such as filled varenyky dumplings or borscht ice lollies.
TOP TIP: Kiev is full of oddities but there are a number of day trips within reach of the capital that feel like they are worlds away.
The Kyivan Rus Park has recreated a medieval Kremlin that delivers on a blockbuster scale. Think Ben-Hur meets Ivan the terrible. For $9 entry, there are regular events and easy transport from Kiev hotels, an hour south of the city.
For tourists with darker interests - the nuclear ghost town of Pripyat and Chernobyl is two hours' drive from Kiev. One of the best regarded tours is sold through Viator from Kiev at $160 per guest.
Geiger counters provided, free of charge.
HOW TO GET THERE: Qatar flies Auckland to Kiev, via Doha.
WHAT: Seattle, a city with a secret.
WHEN TO GO: The best weather in Seattle is from late June to early September and the busiest time for visitors is between June and August.
WHY: Reassuringly for Kiwis, the city of Seattle takes its culinary scene pretty seriously. Don't miss the Pike Place Market, you'll eat yourself silly at all the delicious stalls. Take a Signature Food Tour to learn all about the amazing history of the market as you go. Another unmissable tour takes you underground to another, older Seattle which was entombed when the city rebuilt on top of itself after the Great Fire of 1889. It comes with a salacious history of sin and sex in the sewers; these Seattle "seamstresses" were more about "hims" than "hems". In these tunnels, formed when the original streets were covered over, there were murders and muggings, drink and drugs, gambling and prostitution; as well as erupting toilets.
HOW TO GET THERE: Air New Zealand offer flights from Auckland to Seattle (via LA and on the way back, San Francisco, for travel on selected dates), starting from $2200. Other carriers are cheaper, but you'll have to stop in Australia too.
TOP TIP: The best place to see the iconic space needle is from Columbia Building's 73rd floor observation deck where the view of this striking city is complete.
HONOLULU, HAWAII NOT?
WHAT: Find a way to Hawaii for volcanic excitement and Jurassic backdrops.
WHY: Last year it seemed as if Hawaii couldn't catch a break. If it wasn't being battered by Hurricane Lane, it was being buried in lava flows.
But on the cinematically gorgeous island of Oahu, life will find a way.
With four airlines serving direct flights, Hawaii might be the most cost effective US escape out there.
WHAT: Honolulu's Pearl Harbor is a must for history buffs. Sadly the USS Arizona Memorial is closed over summer for repair, however the far less figurative and far more battleship-like USS Missouri Memorial is still welcoming visitors.
Kualoa Ranch is readily recognisable to film fans, serving as backdrops to over 70 Hollywood movies. From Jurassic Park to Jumanji, the ranch runs adventure and sightseeing tours through Oahu's most cinematic of vistas.
Far away on Hawaii's Big Island, one of the newest reasons to visit is the Isaac Kepoʻokalani Hale Beach Park.
The volcanic black beach was formed in last year's Kilauea eruption and was opened to the public in January.
Meanwhile on the Island of Maui, Kapalua hosts its annual Wine & Food Festival, June 8-11, with tastings and celebrity cooking masterclasses.
FREE WHEELING IN FRISCO
WHAT: San Francisco, the perfect city to explore on foot or "on yer bike".
WHEN TO GO: If you can hang on 'til August or September, go then. Autumn offers San Fran's warmest temperatures, as well as fewer crowds than summer.
WHY: San Francisco's appeal is threefold: it's only one flight away from Auckland, English-speaking and it has heaps of stuff to do year-round - for all ages. Comparable with Wellington but bigger and more bombastic, with generous, gracious homes sprawling over the hillsides. The beautiful old buildings coupled with retro-looking trams make for a majestic cityscape. Cycling the Golden Gate Bridge is a must do. Pick up a bike (electric or manual) from Blazing Saddles near Fisherman's Wharf to see the city in the best way possible.
HOW TO GET THERE: Air New Zealand flies direct to San Francisco from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
TOP TIP: Make sure you try some San Francisco sourdough during your stay — in fact the quintessential clam chowder served in a bread bowl is an excellent way to taste two local classics. At Fisherman's Wharf, this famous soup in a bowl will only set you back only US$8 (NZ$12) at Boudin. San Francisco has several farmers' markets each week but the granddaddy of them all is the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings. Don't miss this if you're lucky enough to be in town that day.
You'll want to island hop to get the most of any Hawaiian holiday.
Inter-island flights work out at under $300 return, there aren't really any passenger ferries to speak of bar the Maui to Lani'i service.
However there is are plenty of options to take a day trip to the Volcanic Park on Hawaii's big island, departing from Honolulu.
STAKEOUT BUENOS AIRES' BEST EATS
WHAT: A sophisticated city break a quick step away from wildest parts of South America.
WHY: While the 'Paris of South America' a bit of a stretch, Buenos Aires and its French counterpart share three religions: red wine, red meat and blue soccer jerseys.
WHAT TO DO: This is gaucho county. If you don't eat meat you will miss out on a vital ingredient.
It's hard to avoid steak houses, but some of our favourites are also next to key attractions.
The Gran Parrilla del Planta serves up protein-generous meals close to the cultural Rio of the Puerto Madero Waterfront. Got room for more food for thought? Check out the Pabellón de las Bellas Arte and fundacion PROA.
Steakhouse El Pobre Luis is another solid bet. It is also within strolling distance of the River Plate football stadium. Sadly the soccer season is wrapped up by the end of May, but to get just a sense of the scale of the spectacle and this city's passion for football check out thestadium museum.
If you're more of a bookworm, the city claims to hold the most beautiful bookshop in the world. The aptly named "Grand Splendid" occupies an old opera theatre, with plenty of reading recesses.
Souvenir hunting is a must as Buenos Aires' markets are full of gems, along with plenty of clobber. The Feria de San Telmo is one of the largest where you're sure to find some bargain bric-a-brac.
If you are in need of a red-meat detox, the healthy livingBio Restaurant is open late in the Palermo Hollywood district.
TOP TIP: There are plenty of options for a grand day out from BA.
Looking for another passport stamp? Kiwis can enter Uruguay visa-free via the ferry to Montevideo or cobbled Colonia.
Iguazu falls are also a popular touring destination, despite being NOWHERE near Buenos Aires. The magnificent natural border between Argentina and Brazil is 18 hours by bus. However flying to Foz do Iguaçu/Cataratas in Brazil will get you there faster for around $300 return. You could do it in a day – but it would be a shame to spend so little time at the falls.
WHERE ON EARTH IS SKOPJE?
WHAT: A forgotten corner of fairy-tale Europe that is revising its story as it goes along.
WHY: North Macedonia or - as it was known a few months ago - the FYROM, is reinventing itself at an alarming rate. By the time you read this, it might have changed its name yet again.
From the sublime to the surreal, the streets of North Macedonia are littered with a Caesar's Palace of tacky statues. Most of these neo-classical eyesores arrived in 2014 as part of a multi-million-euro redesign. It accidentally achieved its tourism-boosting goal by creating a theme park of bad taste.
Fortunately a lot of the city's old town was left untouched. Walk through the Stara Carsija Bazaar and stop off at the 1836 Old House Restorani for a more traditional taste of Macedonia.
It's still one of the most cost-effective European breaks, within striking distance of Greece to the south.
You're likely to be the only Kiwi for miles.
HOW TO GET THERE: Emirates flies to Skopje from Auckland, connecting via Dubai, from $1700.
Just outside the city is the Vodno National park. The Matka Canyon is an overwater hotel in the scenic stone canyon which offers ridiculously good value rooms from $60 a night.
Out west, the serene lakes Ohrid and Mavrovo offer spectacular views, crumbling red-tiled monasteries and medieval towns that wouldn't look out of place in Game of Thrones.
GOOD OMENS IN DARK SKIES RESERVE
WHAT: Eclipse in Chile's Elqui Valley Dark Sky reserve.
WHEN: Eclipse chasers will already know, on July 2nd the stunning Chilean landmark will be in the path of a total solar eclipse.
While this might be a once in a 375 year occurrence the Elqui Valley is popular with stargazers all year round as a dark sky reserve. It is also home to some of the most powerful telescopes and astronomy centres in the world. Protected by the Andes, the skies are eternal source of inspiration. Astronomical tourism runs combined astronomy and culture package with local 'baqueano' cowboys ($440pp).
WHAT'S TO DRINK?
For those planning to see the eclipse in a more comfortable setting - perhaps with a glass of something - the town of Pisco Elqui is famous for producing the national drink: Pisco. The scenic Mistral Distillery sits directly under the path of the eclipse and offers tastings on site and is the perfect place for sundowner cocktails.