Holiday baches are filling up with bookings from across the ditch as Australians anticipate a travel bubble.
According to data from Bachcare New Zealand, speculative bookings from Australian holiday planners have jumped 117 per cent on last month.
With a launch date for the two-way quarantine-free travel set to be announced on Tuesday 6 April, travellers are pre-empting prime minister Ardern's announcement.
Zaina Razzaq a spokesperson for the holiday rentals platform says she's not surprised to see Australians jumping the gun. However, the data shows a "surprising lack of bookings" around Kiwi ski-fields.
"At this time of year, we would typically be seeing an influx of Australian's booking their accommodation for a midwinter ski holiday," she said.
Instead of heading for the ski slopes, Australian bookings appear to be far more dispersed. Bachcare, which manages properties across New Zealand, puts this down to long overdue family visits.
"Feedback we are getting is that a lot of people want to spend time reconnecting with family members living in New Zealand - many of which have been unable to see for over a year now," she said.
Data shows an increased booking for baches for family gatherings, with beaches and wine regions outpeforming ski retreats.
Overall bookings for Queenstown are down on the pre-Covid levels. However there's plenty of search data showing that Aussies are looking at South Island travel, even if they aren't booking.
"What we believe the data is showing us is that Australians looking to travel here for skiing in a specific seasonal time frame are waiting for confirmation of the bubble to open before they book," says Razzaq.
While Australian travellers are reluctant to commit to this year's ski season, summer plans are already being made.
Baches are already filling up for Summer and early 2022 , by which time there is far more confidence in regular Transtasman travel.
Queenstown, Canterbury and Coromandel dominate the inbound summer bookings.
"Travellers who are more flexible in their travel time frames are making bookings in regions either well known for their wine production such as Waiheke, Marlborough and Martinborough or coastal areas such as Raglan, Tauranga, Mt Maunganui, Akaroa and Whangamata," she said.
Yesterday the New Zealand Department for internal affairs advised Kiwi travellers to renew passports now to beat an anticipated rush following Tuesday's announcement.
While we have to wait until Tuesday to know when quarantine-free travel will resume, the planning rush has already begun.
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