Kiwis starting to think about next year's holidays have plenty to choose from in Europe, writes Victoria Clark.
The charming, ancient villages and transparent waters of Europe's coastlines are enticing more and more New Zealanders making their holiday plans for next year's northern summer.
And it's not just couples, but families, too, who are packing sunnies, sunscreen, boating shoes and guide books in preparation for a week or two in Europe's hot-spot seaside destinations.
Travel agents agree; the decisions about a destination for the annual family holiday are often cemented at dinner parties. Many intending travellers open the conversation with: "We were at a dinner party and our friends told us about their holiday in ... We really want to go there, too."
And, for the coming northern summer, those intent on heading to Europe have the charming, ancient villages of Italy, Spain, Croatia and Greece on their minds - and, says one travel company director, Sicily, Portugal and Slovenia are up-and-coming destinations.
CINQUE TERRE AND THE AMALFI COAST
There are 700km of Italy's coastline between them - and an estimated six-hour, stunningly scenic drive - but Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast are steeped in history and dotted with villages where the buildings are ancient, rainbow-coloured and a delight.
When in Cinque Terre, lose the car. Vehicles were banned at least a decade ago. Named for the towns of Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore and, the oldest, Monterosso, which was founded in AD 643, this pocket of the Italian Riviera is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Magnificent cliff-top walkways link the towns, but you can also ride the 19th century passenger train or charming ferries that motor from bay to bay. The coastal walks are popular, as is snorkelling and diving in the crystal-clear waters of the protected marine park.
The Amalfi Coast is a 50km stretch along the southern coast of the Sorrentine Peninsula and is also a Unesco World Heritage Site.
"A huge number of people are taking their families to Italy," says Michelle Malcolm, owner of Quay Travel, in Mairangi Bay. "It's the coastal areas they want to see and experience."
Many holiday-makers are choosing the all-inclusive style of seeing Europe's coast and city ports by booking a Mediterranean cruise.
The big cruise liners ply the Med's waters; the itineraries varied, but popular choices are from Rome to Venice or from Barcelona, Spain, to Venice.
"It's a fantastic way to get to all the major ports and see enough of them to decide which destination you might like to go back to in future."
Getting on the water in Croatia is also hugely popular with holidaying New Zealanders, says Malcolm. "The coast there is superb, really beautiful. Our customers tend to book a yacht or a launch with its own skipper and crew, and they spend their days swimming and exploring all the islands. There is the cheaper option, too, of island-hopping by just using the ferries.
"We had three families in a row booking Croatia holidays."
Croatia is for ideal for most budgets and has been trending with New Zealanders for about five years, says the commercial director for House of Travel, Brent Thomas. It's "very much on a growth curve", he says.
"We're also noticing many New Zealanders are looking for new destinations for their 2016 holidays," said Thomas.
"The Netherlands is popular, particularly as many cruises start there. It's becoming well-travelled by New Zealanders.
"But over the next two to five years, the up-and-coming destinations will be places in Scandinavia, Portugal, Slovenia and Sicily, too.
"People who have already explored southern France and places in Spain, like Barcelona and Madrid, are looking for new destinations."
TALKING TURKEY, TOO
It seems many New Zealanders dearly wanted to get to Turkey this past August but, possibly, chose to avoid the huge crowds heading for the centenary commemorations of the Anzac military campaign on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Instead, they're going there next northern summer.
"We've had a significant number of people booking holidays to Turkey and saying they didn't get there for the commemorations, but it's still really important to them to get there - to see Gallipoli," said Thomas.
TAKE ME TO THE RIVER
"The popularity of river-cruising in Europe is picking up and there is so much choice nowadays too," says the air contracting leader for Flight Centre New Zealand, Phil Goad.
The charming, long riverboats can be hired, with or without crew, to transport the whole family along waterways in Europe and Britain. Alternatively, larger vessels ply the wide rivers through Europe and are eye-catching, mobile hotels-on-water.
SHOW ME THE WAY AND I'LL FOLLOW
Guided tours in Europe - particularly the small group variety, on which the guide is almost like your own personal adviser, are a hugely popular choice for New Zealanders heading to Europe, says Goad.
"Nowadays, everyone's talking about journeys," he said. "They're into cycling hundreds of kilometres through the countryside that's vastly different to New Zealand, and they can get into the local culture and even learn a little bit of the language, or they go on guided, educational journeys, like foodie tours and wine tasting tours."
LONDON TOWERS OVER ALL
"All roads point to London. It outsells everything else," says Goad.
"The top three flight destinations in Europe booked by New Zealanders are London, Paris and Rome.
"Cathay services those routes really well, and as the overall costs are coming down, more and more people are travelling to Europe."
The top seven flight destinations in Europe are London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Manchester, and Dublin is becoming more and more popular.
Tanya Aitken, from House of Travel - Papamoa shares her top tips on how to make the most of your Celebrity Cruises experience.
1. With so many global restaurants on Celebrity Cruises' ships, you'll be in foodie heaven!
2. Take advantage of the Destination Concierge service onboard to get the best insights of the ports visited.
3. From morning to night, there are literally hundreds of different activities happening on a Celebrity Cruises ship - you'll certainly be spoiled for choice.
4. Enjoy the savings and convenience of pre-purchasing a Beverage Package before you cruise.
5. Check out Celebrity's Signature Event sailings offering unique onboard activities and shore excursions wrapped around special events.