1. The world's your oyster
If your budget can't quite stretch to a holiday or big event, there are plenty of travel-related gifts that will still impress. A passport holder or bag tag is a great option. For luxury try Michael Kors or Kate Spade; for something more budget-friendly check out Kikki K, Redcurrent and Typo. Travel inspiration is perfect in the form of a book - Lonely Planet has something for every budget, and every global destination that might be at the top of a bucket list. If this is an extra special Valentine's Day and you're planning to propose, recently released The Honeymoon Handbook (RRP$32.99) is the gift for you. For a sneaky clue on what's about to happen, let your beloved unwrap the book before you pop the question. Scratch Maps are another nice gift for globetrotting couples - mark off the places you've been together already and, as you conquer the globe you can watch your mutual horizons broaden. Ponsonby Rd's The Garden Party has a great option for less than $40. The money you save on an expensive present can be put towards your next adventure together.
2. City breaks
Feeling a little more spontaneous? Book last-minute flights to a city not too far from home. Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin have plenty to offer if you want to stay in NZ, or to really earn some brownie points, how about a quick hop across the Ditch to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane? Flights can be snapped up pretty cheap, and with deal websites, Airbnb, and direct deals through hotels, accommodation doesn't need to cost the earth, either. If you decide on a Sydney break, don't miss this week's Travel Insider on p11, with some excellent tips on Bondi's best.
3. Island escapes
This option means not having anything physical to gift on Valentine's Day itself, but your love will surely forgive you when you tell them you've booked a Pacific Island getaway to look forward to in winter. It is a good time to book Island holidays - you'll find cheap deals now school holidays are over, plus operators are planning ahead for the winter season. Look to travel from May to September to make the most of the best weather. The islands are completely accessible for short breaks too - fly out to Fiji on a Friday morning, come home by dinnertime on Monday and you'll still feel like you've had a decent getaway. Splurge on a nice resort with an in-house spa, and book a couples' massage to truly make the most of the idyllic escape.
4. Romantic intents
Putting this one into practise might have to wait until the weekend, but it's an easy way to impress. Pack up the tent with a few luxuries - wine, a gourmet picnic hamper, flowers and solar-powered fairy lights - and drive to a nice secluded spot to tent up for the night. This might not suit every couple or personality but there's something beautiful in falling asleep to the waves and waking up with a view. The great thing about New Zealand is that you're never far from a stunning campsite. And now the kids have gone back to school, last minute availability shouldn't be a problem. Make it special by venturing somewhere you've never been before. Check out the Camping page of DoC's website and you'll find excellent sites - many in picturesque, secluded, beach locations.
5. Wine and dine
We're spoilt for choice when it comes to excellent wineries, right on our doorstep, and summer is a great time to visit. Hop on a ferry from downtown Auckland and in less than an hour you can be sipping on a drop of Waiheke's finest at Cable Bay, Mudbrick, Stonyridge, Man O'War Estate or any one of the island's multitude of beautiful vineyards. While you're there, Headland Sculpture on the Gulf is on until next Sunday, and has a special Valentine's Date Night event at the main pavilion, this Tuesday from 5pm to 9.30pm. Or head over on Friday night for a tropical carnival at Caribbean Connection, from 3pm to 9pm. Tickets are still available for The Winery Tour 2017 next Sunday at Villa Maria Estate, where you can enjoy music from Brooke Fraser, Bic Runga and Benny Tipene while you enjoy the winery's finest drops. A winery is a great option for new couples - the laid-back environment offers a good amount of time for chatting and with the wine to loosen your tongue a little bit, you'll have no problem getting to know each other better.
WIN: Want to really impress your better half this Valentine's Day? Get in quick and be in to win a scenic flight for two with Heletranz. The Heletranz Champagne Sunset Scenic package includes a bottle of Bollinger as you take in a spectacular 20-minute helicopter flight over Auckland at sunset. To enter, email firstname.lastname@example.org by midday Monday February 13. We'll notify the winner by the end of the day, so you're able to surprise your loved one on Valentine's Day.
Prize redeemable for the month of February 2017.
See Travel in the NZ Herald on Tuesday for more global romance.