Kiwis opting for travel destinations that are way off the beaten track

Thanks to blockbuster movies and intrepid travel programmes, New Zealanders are broadening their holiday horizons.

Madagascar and Kazakhstan have both boosted their numbers of Kiwi travellers after each were the centre of a hit at the box office.

But other destinations more off the beaten track, such as countries in Southeast Asia and developing spots in the South Pacific, are also seeing a surge in popularity.

As soon as somewhere receives any popularity, such as in a television show or movie, it is guaranteed to see a boost in tourism, says House of Travel retail manager Brent Thomas.


"The reverse effect of that is New Zealand and The Lord of the Rings. We've had huge numbers coming here because of those films ... I think before they came out, a lot of people didn't even know we existed."

New Zealanders are notoriously adventurous, following in the intrepid footsteps of our most famous globetrotter, Sir Edmund Hillary, Mr Thomas said. "It's in our blood."

But as well as seeking out more unusual spots to explore, in the past 10 years New Zealanders have also changed how they travel.

"Instead of taking a week to go to Australia or even other countries in the Pacific Rim, people head there for a long weekend. So while other destinations are becoming more popular, it hasn't affected the numbers travelling to those other spots because we've changed how we travel there."

Flight Centre New Zealand executive general manager, Mike Friend, said Vietnam was increasingly popular with Kiwis as it was still relatively untouched compared to some of the other popular Asian destinations. This is also helped by the US dollar which offers New Zealand a great exchange rate.

"It's a great destination because it offers a fantastic combination of history and shopping, while still having the beautiful beaches where you can relax and sip cocktails.

"Nha Trang offers plenty to keep tourists occupied, with some of the top beaches in Vietnam and a warm climate year round. While the city is becoming increasingly popular, it still retains its small-town atmosphere," he said.

Mr Friend said Japan was an emerging destination for this year because of its ski season. The high level of fine dining on offer meant it was also popular with foodies.

The agency has also seen more Kiwis head to Samoa and Tonga on their mid-winter escapes to try something a bit different, Mr Friend said.