Savvy Kiwis have already booked their leave for the week following Easter, in which — thanks to three public holidays — three days annual leave equates to a whopping 10 days off work. If you're still deciding what to do with all that time on your hands, here are our ideas for easy last-minute breaks.

Whale of a time

The Coastal Pacific rail service passenger train Kaikoura coast. Photo / Kiwi Rail
The Coastal Pacific rail service passenger train Kaikoura coast. Photo / Kiwi Rail

WHERE:

North Canterbury

GETTING THERE:

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Air New Zealand and Jetstar fly direct from Auckland to Christchurch. Or, for something really special, fly to Blenheim and catch the Coastal Pacific train. The rail line reopened in December, and is a wonderful way to see this beautiful part of the country's coastline. Blenheim to Kaikōura rail fares start from $59pp.

THE PEOPLE YOU'LL MEET:

Locals have been through a lot since the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake and they'll welcome you back with open arms. International tourists are on the rise again as well.

WHAT YOU'LL DO:

Chow down on seafood (Kaikōura means "eat crayfish" after all), take the

Alpine Pacific Touring Route through the rural countryside and try and go whale-watching on the coast.

MORE INFO:

kaikoura.co.nz

WHAT WE'VE SAID ABOUT IT:

While Nicola McCloy surveyed quake damage along the coast, she found the area was lively. "Despite what the region has been through, Kaikōura is still thriving. The whole place was humming, largely with international visitors."

Travel, March 5, 2019

The black-sand west coast road trip

WHERE:

Head for New Zealand's other West Coast, exploring Raglan and Kāwhia.

GETTING THERE:

Head South from Auckland on SH1, bypass Hamilton and hit SH39 and SH31 to reach Kāwhia. From there, head back north to get to Raglan.

THE PEOPLE YOU'LL MEET:

Raglan has a breezy surfer vibe and a cheerfully blended community of bohemians and rural types.

WHAT YOU'LL DO:

Watch the sunset.

MORE INFO:

raglan.net.nz

WHAT WE'VE SAID ABOUT IT:

Elisabeth Easther raved about the fish and chips you'll find at journey's end. "Grab a steaming paper parcel of kai from Joe's Campground Takeaways and eat it on the footbridge or try Raglan Wharf Fish and Chips, situated on a working fishing wharf — they'll hook you with the freshest ika ever."

Travel, February 20, 2015

Head for the Sunshine

WHERE:

Sunshine Coast

GETTING THERE:

While Air New Zealand's direct Auckland to Sunshine Coast Airport service isn't back in season until July, there are good options for direct services to Brisbane (Virgin Australia, Qantas, Air NZ and China Airlines). The Sunshine Coast is less than 90 minutes' drive from Brissy.

THE PEOPLE YOU'LL MEET:

This is a popular spot for Kiwis seeking an escape from the winter gloom, but the majority of visitors to the Sunshine Coast are still Aussies — they outnumber international visitors by around 10

to one.

WHAT YOU'LL DO:

Eat. There's a "Foodie Trail" for the region, guiding visitors through farms, cooking schools, boutique food shops, markets, restaurants and cafes.

MORE INFO:

visitsunshinecoast.com

WHAT WE'VE SAID ABOUT IT:

David Skipwith is a big fan. "This is no gaudy strip of high-rise hotels, night clubs and children's fun parks, but an infinitely more beautiful stretch of Southern Queensland's most pristine beaches, countless surf spots, lush rain forests and world heritage parks." Sunday Travel, March 4, 2018

Capital suggestion

WHERE:

Wellington

GETTING THERE:

You could fly (Air New Zealand or Jetstar) or, with some more time on your hands, why not make it a roadtrip? Drive down and stop at all those great Kiwi towns along the way.

THE PEOPLE YOU'LL MEET:

Hipsters and other arty types, bearded craft beer enthusiasts and people who won't stop talking about their superior coffee — the usual Cuba St crowd.

WHAT YOU'LL DO:

Drink coffee, lots of craft beer, chow down at the city's thriving culinary scene and explore its great art galleries and museums.

MORE INFO:

wellingtonnz.com

WHAT WE'VE SAID ABOUT IT:

Michael Donaldson describes the capital as the best beer city in the Southern Hemisphere: "If you think you know the Wellington beer scene, think again. Chances are by the time you finish this article, a new brewpub will have popped up somewhere in the city where the winds of change are blowing a gale."

Travel, January 29, 2019

The grape escape

WHERE:

Central Otago

GETTING THERE:

Jetstar and Air New Zealand fly direct from Auckland to Queenstown.

THE PEOPLE YOU'LL MEET:

Tourists from New Zealand and abroad, as well as classic Southern salt-of-the-earth types.

WHAT YOU'LL DO:

Admire the stunning landscapes of Queenstown, Wanaka and beyond, get your adrenaline rushing with some adventure sports, take on the cycle trails then indulge in some Central Otago wine.

MORE INFO:

centralotagonz.com

WHAT WE'VE SAID ABOUT IT:

Tim Brewster admired the view from Wanaka Wildwire's steel steps on a 700m waterfall: "It's a stunner up here. Winding away from me out west is the mighty Mātukituki River valley shaped more than 10,000 years ago. It got its classic u-shape from the last glacier that blundered through like some giant bogan lurching home from the Cromwell races." Sunday Travel, January 13, 2019

To be Pacific

WHERE:

Rarotonga

GETTING THERE:

Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand fly direct from Auckland to Rarotonga

THE PEOPLE YOU'LL MEET:

Relaxed and friendly locals operating on island time — and probably a lot of New Zealanders as well, as it's a pretty popular destination for Kiwis.

WHAT YOU'LL DO:

Relax by the beach or the pool with a tropical cocktail in hand, or get active with a spot of snorkelling, paddleboarding, fishing or a cross-island hike.

MORE INFO:

cookislands.travel

WHAT WE'VE SAID ABOUT IT:

Winston Aldworth mastered the art of taking it easy: "The thing that puts Rarotonga top of my pile for a sunshine break is that it's like a suburb of Auckland that's been picked up and planted in the islands. You pay Kiwi dollars, you drink Kiwi beer, and everyone talks in a Kiwi accent. If the locals all seem Kiwi, it's probably because they pretty much are."

Travel, October 9, 2018

The last-minute mid-haul

WHERE:

Bali

GETTING THERE:

Emirates flies from Auckland to Denpasar four times a week. If you're happy to have a stop on the way, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Qantas offer services with connections in Australia. Air New Zealand's seasonal direct service doesn't resume until June.

THE PEOPLE YOU'LL MEET:

Lots of Australians — they're the most dominant international visitor group here.

WHAT YOU'LL DO:

It depends on what you're into, because Bali's got it all. Depending on where you stay, you can party all night, surf, relax on the beach, explore ancient temples, or get back to nature in the jungle. And, conveniently, the Ubud Food Festival takes place from April 26-28. This year's theme is "Spice Up the World", and the festival celebrates Indonesia's best cuisine, local produce and culinary stars. ubudfoodfestival.com

MORE INFO:

balitourismboard.org

WHAT WE'VE SAID ABOUT IT:

Stephanie Holmes had a blissful stay in Ubud, "far from the drunken Aussies in Bintang singlets . . . Here the jungle is intertwined with the city, the streets lined with Hindu temples, and ornate doorways adorned with flowers. It's a place with enough raw-food cafes and juice bars to make an Auckland hipster weak at the knees." Travel, October 23, 2018