Queenstown preferred by NZ holidaymakers

Queenstown has replaced Coromandel as New Zealanders' favourite domestic holiday spot, and Australia is our preferred overseas destination.

Cheaper domestic air travel has placed the resort town within easier reach of Kiwi holidaymakers.

The New Zealand Herald-DigiPoll survey asked New Zealanders their preferred holiday destinations.

Queenstown was the preferred domestic destination of 25.7% of those polled, followed by Coromandel at 22.3%, Bay of Islands at 20.7%, and Nelson at 13%. The Coromandel topped the corresponding poll last summer.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd said the town's pricey reputation had greatly diminished over the past two years, partly due to cheaper airfares from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

This month Queenstown Airport will experience a 17% increase in inbound flights compared with January last year.

Air New Zealand has increased its capacity on direct services between Auckland and Queenstown by 32%; up to five services on some days.

But Mr Budd said visitors also found Queenstown's range of accommodation and activities very affordable. It was a year-round destination, and marketing had focused on reinforcing its range of activities.

''While skiing and adventure - bungy and jet-boating - is well understood, we have also focused on things like walking, biking, golf and wine and dining experiences.''

The town of 20,000 hosted about two million visitors a year, he said, and about 35%-40% of them were domestic tourists.

The past nine months had seen a recovery in visitor numbers, and domestic numbers had increased at the fastest rate.

Yesterday, Thames-Coromandel mayor Glenn Leach said the district was humming and businesses were reporting great turnover.

''I'd always expect there'd be a bit of a battle between us and Queenstown. But nobody can tell me that the numbers go to Queenstown that come here out of Auckland.''

Internationally, Australia came top with 27.4%, followed by the Pacific Islands at 23.5%, London at 20.8%, and 12.4% preferred Asian destinations.

House of Travel retail director Brent Thomas said while Australia had long been No 1 for New Zealanders, the type of holiday was changing.

''New Zealanders really see it as a long domestic flight.

''We see more and more Kiwis going there for long weekends, to take in some sort of cultural or sporting activity.''

Mr Thomas said falling airfares had seen more New Zealanders travel to Asian countries such as Thailand, and tipped Hawaii to be popular this year.

''Hawaiian Air is starting off at the end of the first quarter in 2013, and Air New Zealand has responded with increased capacity up there as well.

''Pricing will be really good because of the competitive nature ... We're predicting that's going to be a massive market for New Zealanders.''  

By Nicholas Jones. 


Queenstown a blot on the landscape

In the 1960's our family regularly holidayed in Queenstown (population 600 'permanents'); in fact, every Christmas. We loved it. In later years I travelled through it often, on the way to the real gem in the region, the area at the head of the lake, to tramp, occasionally climb and to fish.
Then the almighty dollar began to reign supreme, opportunist 'entrepreneur' businessmen gave the town a new persona, and extreme-sport took over.
And guess what? These days I cannot get through the bloody place quickly enough. Am I missing something in all this?

I hope the experts notice

I hope the experts notice the massive problems we have down here. The traffic issues have started during peak times every week day, not just on the summer vacation period. Now the cell network can't cope . . .

We are being told to stop using the water. Ten years ago we sold the power lines to a Dunedin company, and our permanent population is going to double in the next 20 years or so.

Has the poo problem been sorted, I do not recall, but I do know that after everyone leaves in January the next couple of hot months leave a stink in the air at Frankton

Christchurch is sucking the life out of the local industries and may take 10 years to tidy up, Auckland needs a new underground railway to speed the traffic up by 2kmh.

Will we get the infrastructure needed? [abridged]