Where Aussies Are Planning to Go In New Zealand, and Where You Should Go Instead

New Zealand’s beloved Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the trans-Tasman bubble, allowing travel without mandatory quarantine between Australia and New Zealand and it’s safe to say, the internet is buzzing with excitement. 

And despite how eager we are to get over there, it’s pretty safe to assume that we aren’t the only ones Googling ‘where to go in New Zealand’. 

That being said, over-tourism is a huge issue for the travel industry, and in a post-pandemic world, the rise of the ‘second city’ will help see communities repair from the impacts of over-tourism. 

Second cities are those beautiful destinations that provide a similar experience to that of a major capital, but may be situated in a lesser-explored pocket of the country. It’s not to say we shouldn’t visit those major cities and experience all these have to offer, but avoiding over-tourism for the sake of both the locals and the planet is just one reason to explore the unexplored. 

Second cities could mean smaller towns, villages, or even a big city that isn’t frequented in a mainstream tourism sense. These places can show you some of the most beautiful, untouched scenery, get you acquainted with local delicacies, and have you take part in one-of-a-kind experiences with regional tour guides and locals.

In a bid to reduce over-tourism and protect the environment, Booking.com predicted we’ll venture to lesser-explored alternatives or ‘second-cities’, as found in their Travel Predictions Survey back in 2020.  

More than half (54%) of respondents want to reduce over-tourism by venturing out to second-cities while 51% would swap a major city for a similar destination if it meant less environmental impact would be had.

Now, as the trans-Tasman bubble is set to open, Booking.com has released its latest search data, revealing trending destinations in New Zealand right now, as well as the best lesser-known areas New Zealand has to offer. 

Depending on what type of holiday you’re after, these destinations may appeal to you for different reasons. We suggest that you see them as a guide, to plan your to New Zealand, keeping in mind that second-cities offer more relaxation and sustainability focus, whereas major cities will most likely be busy. 

Unexplored NZ

The following top 10 are trending lesser-known, but absolutely epic destinations in New Zealand that saw significant increases in domestic search demand over the pandemic as Kiwis explored their own backyard.

In this list of unexplored gems, beach towns trended over the New Zealand summer, with the picturesque and historic beauty of Russell in the far North and Raglan’s rugged surf on the West Coast proving particularly popular.

Whakapapa Village in the North Island’s central plateau region around Mt Ruapehu has also seen popular search demand, as travellers start to think about their next ski holiday. With many Australian ski fields season passes selling fast, the trans-Tasman bubble offers an additional winter holiday option for Australian families looking for a spectacular snow season. 

  1. Russell
  2. Raglan
  3. Kaiteriteri
  4. Glenorchy
  5. Ohope Beach
  6. Omarama
  7. Whakapapa Village
  8. Takaka
  9. Punakaiki
  10. Wairarapa

Amazing Aotearoa 

In addition, Booking.com search data from February also reveals the overall top 20 most searched destinations in New Zealand for 2021:

  1. Auckland
  2. Queenstown
  3. Wellington
  4. Taupo
  5. Christchurch
  6. Rotorua
  7. Napier
  8. Dunedin
  9. Hamilton
  10. Tauranga
  11. Hanmer Springs
  12. Paihia
  13. Mount Maunganui
  14. Nelson
  15. Wanaka
  16. Palmerston North
  17. New Plymouth
  18. Lake Tekapo
  19. Whitianga
  20. Kaikoura

Just something to keep in mind as you plan your first overseas trip post-pandemic. Can’t believe we’ve finally made it!

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