Travelling to Europe but want to avoid the standard transit points along
the way? Try one of these fresh destinations instead.

1 PHILIPPINES

While it's getting a reputation as an up-and-coming tourist destination, the Philippines hasn't always been the first choice for an Asian stopover. However, that may change in December when Philippines Airlines launches its new direct route from Auckland to Manila. While the surface can be a bit rough, there's a lot to like about the Philippines' capital. On a short stop, you could explore the city on the hop-on hop-off bus, or go for a more authentic experience on one of the city's jeepneys — low-riding jeeps colourfully decorated with religious imagery. It's a cheap and unique way to get around that you won't forget. Visit the extravagant Coconut Palace, commissioned by the former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos in 1978, or just get some retail therapy at the SM Mall of Asia — the largest mall in the world. Finish the day with the local speciality, halo halo — a popular cold dessert made of shaved ice, condensed milk and a variety of sweet toppings.

2 BUENOS AIRES

Fly to Buenos Aires with Air New Zealand and you're there in around 12 hours, with around the same amount of time to continue on to Europe. So why not think outside the box and enjoy a South American stopover on your next trip? There's plenty to do on a brief trip to the Argentine capital: enjoy a delicious breakfast atahistoric cafe like the locals do, explore the city's many art galleries, museums and colourful markets, or stroll through a park with an icecream — Buenos Aires is famous for it. Of course, you can't visit Argentina without getting your fill of meat — sorry vegetarians. Head to a parrilla — or grillhouse — and you're sure to find satisfaction.

3 CHICAGO

Air New Zealand launched its new direct service to Chicago earlierthis year, so there's no bettertime to explore one of the great American cities. This "toddlin' town" is called home by Barack Obama, Kanye West and other notable names—and there's loads to see and do on a short trip. To get your bearings, start with a visit to 360 Chicago or Skydeck Chicago. These high vantage points will give you the best view of one of the city's most famous features — its skyline.

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For family-friendly entertainment, head down to Navy Pier. Home to an impressive Ferris wheel, as well as the Chicago Children's Museum, the kids will be right at home here. And a first visit to Chicago isn't complete without a walk through Millennium Park, a public space used to showcase cutting-edge art, architecture and landscaping.