Taking a chance on a new holiday location can be a daunting prospect, but Kiwi travel companies are coming up with solutions to help see parts of the country you never knew you were missing.
We're all being told to "do something new" this summer. Many of us are planning to forego the familiar stretch of beach give the same old baches and campsites a break, while the tourism recovers from a hell of a year. Tourism New Zealand has even said it's vital to the country's regional economic wellbeing.
But doing something new is harder than it sounds.
Air New Zealand recently relaunched their Mystery Breaks package – to help customers take a chance on a destination they might never have thought of. The tried and tested 'Mystery Breaks' have been running since the 1980s and deliver randomly allocated seats and accommodation to a surprise location, somewhere on their network.
However, there's only so many places you can fly to on the Koru, with some parts of the country still out of reach. Then there's always the risk of pulling a dud and ending up somewhere that is simply incompatible with your holiday ideals.
So says travel designer Luke Peterson, who recently launched a surprise holiday package for New Zealanders, with maximum range and minimum risk.
"I used to work at Air New Zealand years ago with the Mystery Breaks," he says. "I was like: there's a way to do this better."
"It's a great model, "says Peterson who praises the Mystery Break's latest incarnation and partnership with Accor Hotels. "They've got all of that brand clout going for them," says Peterson.
"However, they don't go to any of my favourite places."
In June he launched the Surprise Kiwi Adventure – a bespoke and totally surprise package holiday exclusively for New Zealanders trying to see new parts of Aotearoa. After twelve years designing itineraries for international clients, the company has a network of partners from the Chathams to outer islands of the Hauraki Gulf.
"You could literally end up anywhere," he says.
Having booked your trip for however many travellers, all the hints you will get are in an email delivered seven days before departure, containing a meeting place and packing suggestions.
That might sound daunting. However there is an – extremely – thorough survey of interests and recent travel to make sure the 'surprise' is a pleasant one. It's Time 2 Go trys to match guests to itineraries, while still keepign an air of mystery. Jumping through the 30-odd steps to help guide the experience, covering everything from the type of accommodation to the kinds of wildlife you'd like to meet, if anything they might ask for too much input.
There's always the option to book at random. Choosing your dates and budget, upwards from $400 and away you go. Into the unknown.
"Before Covid happened I didn't have any Kiwi clients," says Peterson. As a New Zealand specialist arranging itineraries for inbound Americans and international travellers, who had limited knowledge of the country. However, creating holidays for Kiwi guests who think they know their country has been a challenge.
"When the borders closed, I realised we had to do something," says Peterson. The surprise tours were an idea had been toying with for a while. However it was only when the inbound market was locked out and New Zealanders looking to do something new, he realised there as a chance to send to parts of the country that were really feeling the lack of tourists.
"There are places on the West Coast that are really off grid. Hotels that I've been used to book constantly for inbound travel, are now really struggling."
Since beginning the new product in June, Peterson says he's delivered 128 surprise trips. From flying families to Great Barrier Island from Hamilton, to arranging 50th wedding parties for busloads of people, it has been surprisingly busy time for the company.
While the Surprise Kiwi Adventure doesn't have the years of experience or sheer scale of competitor product Air NZ Mystery Break, it is an exciting prospect.