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
''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.