Recommended NZ | Guide to Money | Gimme: Competitions - Giveaways reveals how Kiwis rediscovered travel closer to home this winter

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The distance Kiwis travelled may be down 74% year-on-year, but destinations famed for their slopes and snow are winter 2020’s stand-out stars!

Travel may not be the same during these unprecedented times, but data from reveals that the happiness travel can bring isn’t measured in kilometres. Travel plans may have changed drastically in 2020, but this has given travellers the opportunity to explore closer to home, discovering - and in many instances rediscovering - hidden gems on their doorstep.

Delving into this winter’s travel patterns, calculated that the average distance Kiwis travelled (June - August) is down 74% (1) compared with the same time last year, which is greater than the global average of 63%. When looking back at the winter of 2019 Kiwi travellers journeyed on average 2,737 kilometres per booking (1). This winter, that distance has dropped to just 706 kilometres per booking (1), about the same amount as the distance from Wellington to Wellsford!(2)

Happiness isn't measured in kilometres

Four fifths (82%)(3) of the total distance travelled by Kiwis between 1 June and 31 August 2020 was within New Zealand, compared to only 16% during the same period of 2019. With New Zealanders’ typical winter escapes such as Bali, the Pacific Islands, and Europe off the cards, Kiwis took advantage of much closer to home numerous winter wonderlands.

Destinations rediscovered - Canterbury cleans up

While travellers flocked to Queenstown to enjoy the slopes and the après ski scene, many New Zealanders also spent their winter rediscovering other snow-covered destinations in our own backyard. While the Whakapapa Village rose in prominence, the stand out star of winter 2020 was the Canterbury region specifically Mount Cook Village - Canterbury, Methven - Canterbury, Arthur’s Pass - Canterbury and Lake Tekapo - Canterbury (5).

Top 10 trending destinations 'rediscovered’ from June 1 - August 31:

Whakapapa Village

Mount Cook Village


Arthur's Pass

Lake Tekapo


National Park




And when it comes to accommodation choice, Kiwis were more likely to have opted for a Chalet than they were last year, followed by holiday homes and lodges which all topped the rankings of the trending accommodation types for New Zealand travellers this winter (7). This rise in self-catered accommodation shows the shift in travel trends. When looking back at the end of 2019, before we knew that our 2020 travel plans would be clouded by a global pandemic, only 19% were intending to stay in a holiday home, while 56% were anticipating staying in a traditional hotel (8).

The unexpected route to our travel plans this winter

While the events of the year have led to seismic shifts in travel behaviours and destination choices, travel has still found a way to satisfy many travellers' wanderlust. At the end of 2019, New Zealanders were planning to visit family and friends (61%) before they knew their contact with them would have been limited this year. Others were planning to hit the highway on a road trip (40%) while some (37%) were dreaming of beautiful beaches (8).

While some of those travel desires had to be put on hold, New Zealanders embraced the experiences that were available, rediscovering the simple pleasures in our backyard. So whether swapping Aitutaki for Arrowtown, or Route 66 for State Highway 1, the travel desires of many Kiwis have still been explored in 2020, just a little closer to home.

Todd Lacey, Area Manager for New Zealand at, said: "While New Zealand navigates these uncertain times it's reassuring to see that while our plans and priorities may have changed, our passion for travel has not. Whether it’s the memories captured, relationships strengthened or smiles made, the winter of 2020 proved that the happiness travel can bring is not simply measured in kilometres.

With international tourists out, a classic Kiwiana holiday is more relaxing than ever. From epic ski villages to beach baches, what better time to rediscover Aotearoa. With our mission to make it easier for everyone to experience New Zealand, we offer the widest choice, great value and the easiest experience so travellers can get out and enjoy all kinds of travel experiences, whenever it’s safe to do so and whether that’s near or far."

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