We’re well and truly rugged up for the New Zealand winter chill now and dreaming of where we’d rather be — perhaps poolside drinking cocktails and soaking up the sun. To inspire us with ideas for a winter break, Rick Felderhof from Our World shares the five most popular Pacific escapes for Kiwis

1. Niue

Niue, a raised coral atoll in the middle of the Polynesian Triangle, is not huge - phone numbers have just four digits - but it has an amazing array of natural features. Much of the island rises 20-30m straight out of the ocean, so there aren't a lot of sandy beaches, but the coves, caves and the coral shelf that joins the cliffs to the sea provide opportunities to swim in the crystal clear water. You can fish, dive and socialise with the locals and an added bonus is that they use the New Zealand dollar.

2. Denarau Island, Fiji

Sheraton Fiji Resort, Denarau. Photo / Supplied
Sheraton Fiji Resort, Denarau. Photo / Supplied

It's so popular, Rick reckons you could run into your neighbour/lawyer/doctor, but at less than three hours' flight from Auckland, plus a 30-minute transfer, Denarau is an easy holiday. You can be at the pool with a cool cocktail in 28C sunshine within five hours of leaving Auckland. Add the range of resorts and dining options at various hotels for a relaxed fly-and-flop style of holiday.

3. Aitutaki, Cook Islands

Cruising the Aitutaki Lagoon. Photo / Supplied
Cruising the Aitutaki Lagoon. Photo / Supplied

Aitutaki was once seen as a day trip from Rarotonga, but Kiwis have fallen in love with the lagoon and lifestyle of Aitutaki and are opting to spend three or four nights. It's about a 50-minute flight from Raro and the azure waters of Aitutaki and its idyllic islands are captivating. Aitutaki boasts some of the best resorts in the Cook Islands, but there's something to suit all budgets.

4. Samoa

Sheraton Samoa. Photo / Supplied
Sheraton Samoa. Photo / Supplied

Kiwis have a soft spot for Samoa with its rich Polynesian history, proud culture and diverse scenery: tropical rainforests, waterfalls, blowholes and beaches. Samoa offers a blend of maximum relaxation and adventure - Rick suggests hiring a car for a couple of days. When it comes to accommodation, choose between the newly refurbished Sheraton Samoa Aggie Greys Resort and an excellent range of smaller boutique resorts nestled along the south coast of the main island, Upolu.

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5. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Hotel Le Meridien Bora Bora, Tahiti. Photo / Supplied
Hotel Le Meridien Bora Bora, Tahiti. Photo / Supplied

Visiting this outstanding island and lagoon is becoming more achievable, with a good exchange rate and great deals that include meals. Bora Bora is popular for a romantic getaway or a special occasion. Rick loves the blend of Polynesia and France and the high-quality food. He suggests picking up duty free bubbles to enjoy on your bungalow balcony before a dinner overlooking the lagoon.