Where are you planning on adventuring to over the next 12 months? Will you be travelling to far off exotic plaes or doing some digging and uncovering a few gems closer to home?
We asked a selection of our favourite kiwi travel bloggers to give you the lowdown on the destinations, both at home and overseas, they’re most looking forward to exploring in 2015.
Katie: The World on My Necklace
Originally from New Zealand, Katie has been living abroad and travelling the world for the past 10 years. In 2012, after 7 years in London, she packed her bags for a 13 month trip through the Americas. Now living in Sydney, she tries to balance work, life and travel.
Top International Destination: British Columbia, Canada
On the coast of British Columbia, Canada wildlife abounds in the rocky coves, mist shrouded islands and old growth forests of this wild coastline in the Pacific North West.
Nature is at its most raw here and is best enjoyed by hiking the many trails and driftwood strewn beaches before retiring to a wilderness Lodge for some British Columbian wine by a raging log fire.
Top NZ Destination: Waiheke Island
Already a popular day trip from Auckland, Waiheke Island deserves much more time than a day trip can afford.
This bucolic island of rolling pastures, white sand beaches and majestic wineries is home to a tight knit community of expats, hippies and millionaires. Only 35 minutes from the city, but far removed in population and spirit, it is the perfect destination to escape big city life and discover the charms of island life.
Liz: Passport Packed
An ex-Auckland PR girl, Liz is travelling the world and blogging from a young kiwi perspective.
If you can, I’d definitely recommend getting to London for the Rugby World Cup – it’s sure to be a blast, though also quite expensive.
A photo posted by Elizabeth Harding (@passport_liz) on
A more affordable option is Vietnam. The people very warm and inviting and there’s so much to do. From bustling cities full of delicious cuisine and cheap shopping, to gorgeous white beaches and stunning islands in Ha Long Bay, its very rewarding!
Top NZ Destination: Wanaka
Although it’s known for being a top ski destination in winter, Wanaka is also great in summer, and somewhere I’d definitely recommend getting to this year.
Go take advantage of the many walking trails and bike tracks through beautiful New Zealand bush and then rest up in one of the many great cafes.
Emma: Live and Learn Travel Blog
Emma is a blogger, adventurer, dancer and cook who left New Zealand in search of life, love and adventure.
Top International Destination: Turkey
With the 100 year anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign this year, it’s amazing to visit Anzac Cove and get a feel for what those men were up against all those years ago. While it’s very popular to visit Gallipoli on Anzac Day, it can also be good to visit at quieter time as the tranquil, serene surroundings provide the perfect setting for reflection.
Turkey is an enormous country with so much to offer travellers. For starters, the bustling city of Istanbul shouldn’t be missed. In addition to its famous bazaars, palaces and mosques, it’s a great place for people watching and simply soaking up the unique culture that could only come from a city that straddles two continents.
Moving into the interior of Turkey is the wonderland town of Cappadocia. Experiencing this other-wordly landscape by hot air balloon seems to be the highlight of most people’s trip to Turkey (it was certainly ‘up there’ for us), however there is a wealth of other historical sites in the region including a seven storey underground village!
And finally, the beautiful beaches of the Turquoise Coast are not to be missed. The waters of this beautiful coastline live up to their name and the white sandy beaches are plentiful. This region offers paragliding, great dive sites, snorkelling with sea turtles, vineyards, ancient ruins galore and a much calmer and more relaxed atmosphere than Istanbul!
Oh, and coffee, don’t forget to drink lots of Turkish coffee!
Top NZ Destination: Raglan
One of my favourite hangouts in New Zealand is the slightly alternative, and rather hip, town of Raglan. A short drive from Hamilton and less than two hours from Auckland, Raglan is a super funky little township with great shops and cafes, a nice harbour and the most ruggedly beautiful, black sand beach. The vibe is relaxed and casual and there are numerous accommodation options to reflect that. Raglan is the perfect place to soak up some sunshine on a lazy summer’s day and is an equally a great spot to rug up warm and walk the beach on a blustery winter’s morning (followed by hot coffee and breakfast at a local cafe, of course).
Brendan: Bren on the Road
A noodle fanatic from Auckland, Brendan has been globetrotting full time since 2011 learning new skills and languages, exploring faraway places and meeting new faces along the way.
Top International Destination: Ecuador
Ecuador often one of the forgotten countries of South America, with most travellers flocking to Brazil, Argentina and Peru. However, those who break with tradition will find one of the most diverse countries on the continent. For sun lovers the coast is littered with beautiful towns and beaches; for adventurers there are endless hikes and mountains to climb; for wildlife enthusiasts the Galapagos Islands hosts some of the rarest species alive; and for nature lovers Ecuador’s Amazon is one of the most bio-diverse in the world. Not to mention, Quito is a modern but extremely well preserved historical capital. There is something for everyone in Ecuador!
Where are you off to Grandpa? #galapagos #tortoise #ecuador A photo posted by Brendan Lee (@brenontheroad) on
Top NZ Destination: Mangawhai Heads
Everyone should spend a weekend up in Mangawhai Heads. Beautiful white sand beaches, great places to go fishing and absolutely stunning bakeries.
It’s a sleepy little town, which is perfect for a relaxing weekend, and only 90min drive from Auckland.
A Kiwi in England, Kelly is a gluten-free luxury traveller with a serious addiction to shoes & cake.
I think Bosnia and Serbia are going to attract many kiwi travellers this year.
Close to Croatia, which many New Zealanders have fallen in love with already, I can see a lot more exploration of the Balkan area especially in the major cities of Belgrade, Sarajevo and Mostar.
New Zealanders are well known for getting off the beaten track and choosing destinations where they’re going to get more value out of the New Zealand Dollar and this is the perfect European destination.
Top NZ Destination: Taihape
I’m going to go out on a limb and say Taihape, the gumboot capital of the world!
With a cute little main street with shopping and cafes offering you your flat white fix, it’s time for people to stop the car rather than just driving through the small town.
Make sure you visit on the March 7 2015 for the annual Gumboot Throwing competition, you know you want too!
There is plenty to do in the surrounding area including the National Army Museum in Waiouru, trekking Mount Doom, Skiing and the odd giant carrot to cuddle in Ohakune that makes this a great area for Kiwi travellers to visit in 2015.
Simon: Man vs World
Born and raised in Whangarei, Simon is sports and movie fiend with a passion for world travel.
Top International Destination: Southeast Asia
Is it a cop out to name all of Southeast Asia? Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it there – perfect beaches, friendly locals, cheap prices and stunning cultural attractions. If I had to narrow it down to just one country, then I’d say Cambodia is my pick of the bunch.
For me, it just seems to offer the perfect mix of rest and relaxation, as well as mind-blowing cultural and historical highlights (Angkor Wat has to be seen to be believed!).
Top NZ Destination: Waiheke Island
What if I told you there’s a place in New Zealand where you can enjoy world-class wineries, first-class restaurants, gorgeous beaches, and still enjoy all the perks of having a thriving metropolis on your doorstep?
A holiday on Auckland’s Waiheke Island is kind of like having your cake and eating it too. It’s a peaceful, perfect little island with some seriously lovely coastal walks and more than 30 wineries, and less than an hour by ferry from New Zealand’s largest city.
Visit it for a day trip or spend a week on Waiheke Island – just make sure you check it out in 2015. Tell the locals that Man vs World sent you (they’ll think you’ve gone mad!).
Christie: The Butterfly Editions
Christie is a 20-something from Christchurch currently backpacking around Asia on a maximum budget of NZ$50 a day.
Top International Destination: Malaysia
If there’s one new country you visit in 2015, it has to be Malaysia! Too often missed from Southeast Asian itineraries, Malaysia is so diverse – from the modern and bustling capital of Kuala Lumpur to the deeply historical port of Malacca.
You can soak up the sun on Langkawi’s beautiful beaches, sip tea straight from the Cameron Highlands’ lush plantations and devour your way around the foodie’s paradise of Penang. Malaysia is budget-friendly, easy to get around and in comparison to Europe just a stone’s throw from home.
Have I convinced you to book your ticket yet?
Island time on Perhentian Kecil #travel #malaysia #perhentianislands #beach #instatravel A photo posted by Christie Horne (@thebutterflyeditions) on
Top NZ Destination: Kaikoura
For a truly quintessential Kiwi escape, pack up the tent and stock the chilly bin for a long weekend in Kaikoura. Nod to the town’s namesake by feasting on freshly cooked crayfish from a roadside caravan then pack some snacks and explore the Peninsular Walkway with it’s magnificent cliff top views. Spot seals sleepily dotted all over the rocky shore, and venture out on a whale-watching tour for your chance to see these majestic creatures surfacing for air. Bonus if you visit in winter, head to Ohau Stream and you might be lucky enough to spot some seal pups playing in the waterfall!
Ashley: Flyaway Kiwi
Ashley is a small town girl from New Zealand with a passion for travel. She packed her bags way back in 2010 and flew to Spain for a year of English teaching, soul searching and European adventuring.
Top International Destination: Istanbul
Istanbul is vibrant, chaotic and oh-so-different from little old New Zealand which is why I’ve made it my pick for 2015. The city is so alive – with the calls to prayer sounding over the city, the scent of chestnuts, spices and fish intermingling as you wander the streets, the bustling crowds on Istiklal Avenue and the bold colours and lively bartering at the local markets. It’s a city that really takes over your senses, and with so much culture and history to take in you’ll soon be wishing you had more time there.
Top NZ Destination: Great Barrier Island
Great Barrier Island is one of my favourite places in the world, and is often overlooked by people travelling in New Zealand.
It has gorgeous virgin beaches, great surf, fantastic hikes through dense New Zealand bush and even its own hot pools. And to top it all off, the people are all so lovely and down-to-earth. It makes the perfect escape from the city whether you want to relax or have an adventure.
And the fact that the sun always seems to shine on the island while Auckland is cloudy and grey makes the scenic flight or ferry over all the more worth it.
Esther: NZ Muse
Alternately a dreamer and a pessimist, Esther is an introvert chasing that elusive trifecta of health, wealth and happiness.
Top International Destination: Iceland
It was never on my radar, but we got a free stopover in Reykjavik between London and New York and on that short trip I completely fell for Iceland. We felt instantly, weirdly at home as soon as we landed. In many ways Iceland is like our sister country on the other side of the world in terms of landscapes and people/culture. The environment is just stunning and untouched and gives you a deep sense of inner peace. Also: Icelandic horses!
Top NZ Destination: Northland
There’s just so much on offer here. It’s beautifully warm up there but there’s plenty of places to cool off, from the Kai Iwi Lakes to 90 Mile Beach. The Hokianga Harbour is nothing short of splendid and it’s not far from Waipoua Forest, where you’ll find Tane Mahuta (the biggest kauri tree in the world). In the Bay of Islands, soak up history at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, and learn to paddle a waka – or cruise through the Hole in the Rock and swim with dolphins. And head up to Cape Reinga at the very tip of the North Island, where the Pacific and Tasman oceans meet.
A digital marketer and organiser, Michelle loves coffee, travel, keeping active, writing and culture.
Harbin, in northern China, is a real winter playground! It’s such a unique place that will give you an unforgettable experience. You might expect to be huddling under the blankets when it’s minus 15 degrees, but not in Harbin – there’s loads to do to keep your mind off the cold. You can’t miss the annual Snow & Ice Festival that will leave you in awe. The intricate detailing in the sculptures are so impressive and seeing them light up in the evening, is just a bonus! The city’s proximity to Russia also means you can enjoy hearty northern-style food, beautiful Russian architecture and the interesting mix of Chinese and Russian culture.
Top NZ Destination: Taranaki
Taranaki’s a place that feels so removed from everything (physically and mentally), but that’s what makes it such a perfect ‘getaway’! Taranaki is definitely a winner for the outdoorsy folk. I love how you don’t have to choose mountains, bush walks and hikes over beaches, sand and surf – because you can have it all. If you’re wanting something more low key, there’s also the coastal walkway in New Plymouth and Te Rewa Rewa bridge which is great for a casual stroll or bike ride. The historic character buildings in the small surrounding towns also makes this area something special.
Jenna and Jordan: Stoked for Saturday
Originally from Ontario, Canada, Jenna and Jordan quit their jobs, sold their houses, cars and belongings then packed their bags and moved to the other side of the world.
Top NZ Destination: Doubtful Sound
Known as the ‘Sound of Silence’, Doubtful Sound offers a sense of serenity in the pristine beauty of Fiordland. Take in a day or overnight cruise or get upclose with nature (and if you’re lucky a pod of dolphins) in a kayak excursion. The extra effort to get to Doubtful Sound is well worth it for the peacefulness you’ll receive in one of the most beautiful parts of the world!
Rachel: Rachel in Ireland
Rachel is a half-Aussie/half-Kiwi. She’s lived in Brunei, Australia and the Philippines before settling in Ireland. She loves puppies and kittens, cake, travel and learning Irish.
Top International Destination: Philippines
Although I live in Ireland now my top travel destination for kiwi’s for 2015 is actually in Asia: the Philippines. I spent a year living and working in the vibrant tropical nation last year.
After suffering the horror of Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, the Philippines needs your tourist dollars! In return, the Philippines offers some beautiful tropical paradises to rival the Pacific Islands.
You can also get a lot more for your money and find some deserted hidden gems well away from the main tourist trail. The Visayas and Cebu area are well worth the extra effort to get to!
Top NZ Destination: Piha
Piha Beach, 45min north of Auckland in the Waitakere Ranges. Summer can be a bit hectic with a large influx of tourists and beach goers, so I would suggest to go in Spring or Autumn. Or even Winter, sure, why not? This is when the beach front is absolutely wild and rugged.
There is nothing quite like a rough ocean, black sand and black sky. Although the shore and valley is being dotted with million dollar baches, Piha hasn’t really lost it’s West Coast charm. It’s also a great starting point for a weekend hike form Piha to Whatipu which will expose you to some of the most beautiful coastline in the country!
Justine: Cheapflights Travel Blogger
A travel junkie, Justine spent a large part of her 20s tripping around the world. She still finds time to dust off the family suitcases and hit the road a few times a year, kids in tow.
Top International Destinations: Southeast Asia, Australia
Southeast Asia. Air access to Asia is increasingly easy and Kiwis won’t be able to resist attractive flight deals to hub cities such as Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.
There’s always something new to discover in Asia, however many times you may have been there, and you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Australia is also always a top choice for Kiwis, particularly eastern seaboard cities such as Brisbane and Sydney and Melbourne, which are only a few hours’ away by air and are therefore perfect short break destinations. Many New Zealanders see Australia as a home away from home and the shopping, entertainment, dining and activity options in these attractive cities entice us across the ditch in droves every year.Cheap Flights to Australia
Top NZ Destination: Rotorua
Rotorua, because it offers something for everyone. The central North Island city has long been one of NZ’s top destinations, and it continues to wow visitors with its adventure, geothermal, cultural, family and outdoor activities.
Rotorua’s central location means it’s easy to get to, and there’s a lot more to it than a lot of Kiwis realise. Its potential to surprise is limitless.Flights to Rotorua
Emma: Daydream Believer
Twenty-something writer, blogger and world traveller from New Zealand. Based in London, Emma spends her time exploring the world while scouting out the best coffee.
Top International Destination: Denmark
Such a hard question! This has been an amazing year of travel for me, but if I had to narrow it down and choose one top destination for 2015 Copenhagen would take that spot!
I recently fell head over heels in love with this city, there is something very magical about Denmark and it’s not quite like anywhere else I’ve been.
The city is full of stunning architecture, beautiful design, endless foodie spots and the fantastic Danish lifestyle, or ‘hygge’ as the Danes say.
I would highly recommend visiting during the colder seasons as Denmark just does it so well, but I guess I’ll have to check it out in the summer time to truly be a judge of which season they do best!
Copenhagen, you truly are a dream. A photo posted by EMMA JAYNE (@emma_daydreambeliever) on
Top NZ Destination: Raglan
As I am currently living 18,000km away from New Zealand there is plenty I miss about home, but one thing I miss terribly is the ease of spontaneous adventures. Going with this, my top travel destination for travel in NZ in 2015 would be Raglan! Growing up in Hamilton there were many spontaneous trips made out to this fantastic little beachside town. I’ll admit spending time at the beach isn’t always my favourite past time, but there is just something about Raglan that I will always love, whether it’s wandering the town and checking out the quaint shops, eating fish & chips and watching the sunset from Whale bay, or madly dashing across the hot black sand for a dip in the water. Raglan is somewhere I love to go for a mini escape, it’s so easy to relax and forget the every day stresses of life here!
Mandy: Why Not Travel
Mandy is a 20-something vagabond. Half Portuguese, one quarter British and one quarter Irish, Mandy was born in Hong Kong, but brought up in New Zealand.
Top International Destination: Lagos, Portugal
For my top recommended international destination let me take you to the opposite side of the world, a little town in Portugal called Lagos. Situated on the Southern West coast of the Algarve this town with its cobbled streets and white washed buildings will steal your heart (and ruin your liver). Surrounded by magnificent golden cliffs, crystal waters, beaches and natural grottos it’s beauty is what catches first time visitors off guard every time. New Zealanders will feel right at home in what is practically an outdoors playground. From surfing and kite surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, treks with magnificent views, and much more you won’t be bored. For those who just want to relax you’ve got a multitude of beautiful beaches to choose from to get your tan on. Then there’s the nightlife, where anything goes. Not to mention, in comparison to the rest of Europe, it’s a cheap destination where you get bang for your buck. You must hit up local Casinha do Petiscos, which in summer’s peak has lines out the door. I have never seen a disappointed or unsatisfied place leave (nor have I seen someone been able to finish their meal!) and at 10-14 euro you just can’t argue. The best time to visit Lagos if you’re into a more chilled out vibe is May and September. If partying and crazy night antics are your game you want to be there in July and June. Whenever you go though, you’ll have a good time.
Top NZ Destination: Bay of Plenty
As for back home, I feel like the Bay of Plenty wins hand down as my favourite place to spend a holiday. With the cruisy, and hip Mount Maunganui beach town on one side, and the peaceful cool mountainous escape of the Kaimais and McLaren Falls on the other. It’s the best of both worlds for nature lovers. Don’t be fooled by those who call the Bay a retirement village because one walk down town the Mount and you’ll see fresh new design stores, local boutiques and a cafe culture that could give the streets of Auckland and Wellington a run for their money. For an ultimate coffee and famously HUGE slice experience hit up Cafe 88, right at the end of the Main Street. This wee cafe is always pumping. That’s ok though because you can escape with a takeaway and hike up to mount Drury or on to the beach to enjoy it with a view. Of course a must do is the Mount Maunganui climb itself. The panoramic outlook at the top is always worth it, even the locals never get tired of posting endless “top of the mount” selfies. If salt water isn’t your thing, head over to the fresh water falls of Mclaren’s, a true escape from the crazy world. Whether you want to beach it and surf away the days or hike through some bush land and jump from falls into fresh water pools, the Bay of Plenty will have you loving life. Watch out though because you might find you never want to leave.
Born in the Pacific Ocean, under southern skies, somewhere in the wilds of New Zealand, Leonie spent a few years living in London before returning home in 2013.
Top International Destination: Tokyo
All the big city excitement of London, Paris or New York with a total cultural difference thrown in for good measure. It’s an extremely safe city and easy to get around on foot, by bicycle or via their incredible transit system. It’s crowded but in a polite kind of way, the food is world class with everything from cheap eats to michelin starred dining and there’s a great mix of the traditional old Japan and new high-tech metropolis. History, culture, food, shopping – it’s all here.
Top NZ Destination: The Catlins
Self-drive through the Catlins. Attractive for it’s remoteness, worlds away from life in the city, yet only an hour from the nearest airports. Wild coastlines, glorious forests and wildlife in abundance. The kind of place where you can breathe slower and deeper and have your fill of exploring, yet still leave wanting to go back again and again.
Rhonda: Albom Adventures
Married with children, Rhonda and family are American expats. When not traveling, exploring, learning, and participating in life around the world they now call NZ home.
Really this depends on who you are, so I will answer for our family with two teen girls. We like an eclectic mix of adventure and relaxation, filled with culinary delights, cultural significance, new discoveries, interesting photo opportunities, and a bit of pure rest and relaxation. If we only have a week, we head to an island, most recently Samoa, although the Mamanuca Islands of Fiji generally offer the perfect solution for everyone whether families or couples. Given more time, we would head back to Morocco, as we only scratched the surface with a month long visit in 2012. With surprises around every corner, no two days were the same, as we explored the ancient buildings of the Imperial cities, enjoyed mint tea and dates with new friends, rode camels in the desert, surfed on the beaches, and absorbed a bit about a completely different culture. When I close my eyes I can still see the colourful medinas of the old cities, the welcoming smiles of the people we met along the way and the smell of spices that fill the air. In complete contrast, when we travel with multi-generational extended family we prefer to take a cruise. We find the ships have something for everyone, with children’s activities, a teen lounge, the spa, on-bored activities, and interesting ports to explore. For our family we can each do what we want all day and meet together for dinner and a show.
Top NZ Destination: Wellington
If it’s a weekend getaway, Wellington is always fun to visit. “Welcome to Middle Earth” greets visitors arriving via air. From here, it’s a short trip to the city center and the national Museum, or the cable car followed by a walk through the botanic Gardens leading down to the beehive and a tour of the Parliament. The city is loaded with fantastic places to eat, incredible sweets, great coffee, and an opportunity for people watching. If I have more time, driving the West Coast of the South Island is always the top of my New Zealand destination list. Flights to Wellington
Anita: Anita Hendrieka
Anita left home at the tender age of 19 with a one way ticket and working holiday visa ready to travel the world.
Top International Destination: Tokyo
I believe that the top international destination for Kiwi travellers in 2015 is Tokyo. Tokyo is a city that never sleeps. There is always something to do and something very bizarre to see. Roughly 11 hours of flying time from Auckland, you really couldn’t get to a destination so opposite from New Zealand which makes it so intriguing, interesting and beautiful. Among the bustling city you can find peace and tranquillity at one of the local shrines. A must-see for the soul in 2015.
In love with Tokyo #crossing #Japan #culture #Tokyo #instatravel #adventure #explore #peaceful #exploretheworld #nomad #instabackpacker #instanomad #instapassport #travel #travelphotography #travelling #backpacking #gypsy #wanderlust A photo posted by Anita Hendrieka Dijkstra (@anitahendrieka) on
Top NZ Destination: Castlepoint, Wairarapa
A local beach of mine and one of the most beautiful towns I have explored in NZ. Rent a local Bach for a few days for some peace and quiet or rent for a week to really get to know the place and the locals.
With only one shop and one restaurant the castle point community is close knit and as friendly as they come. With plenty to do it really is the perfect destination for the family or young travellers. Not to mention lots of perfect photo opportunities!
The bloggers have spoken. Pick your next destination and let us know of your experiences.
Featured image by David Bacon