While international travel may have been put on hold in 2020, dreams of far-flung destinations have not. According to recent data released by booking.com on The Future of Travel, during the weeks in lock-down, an overwhelming majority of travellers spent time looking for vacation inspiration, with over a third looking at potential travel destinations as often as once a week.
While Aotearoa has endless beautiful places to explore, there’s a sense of comfort to be found in the familiar, especially during such uncertain times. Kiwis have been given the chance to return to their roots and revisit places that hold special memories.
“We are lucky in New Zealand to be in one of the most amazing, all-year-round tourism destinations in the world. Just as much as we want to head overseas, there are so many summertime experiences — from hot chips eaten fresh off the paper to enjoying great conversations with family and friends late into the night — that we can find comfort in right here in our own backyard,” said Todd Lacey, Area Manager of Booking.com New Zealand. “When there is so much uncertainty happening in the world, taking a trip to a place one can be guaranteed they will love is an easy win.”
For those looking for an escape from the every day, we have compiled a list of nostalgic getaways and beautiful properties across New Zealand.
Hot Water Beach
Formed by violent volcanic activity thousands of years ago lies an absolute gem of the Coromandel Peninsula, Hot Water Beach. Almost every Kiwi will certainly be able to remember their childhood experience of heading to the iconic beach with buckets and shovels, ready to dig holes in search for hot water to create mini sand baths. Annual visitor numbers have been estimated at 700,000, making it one of the most popular geothermal attractions in the Waikato region.
Where to stay
Hot Water Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park is located a convenient 700m from Hot Water Beach, so guests are able to enjoy the familiar experience of walking to the beach on a hot summer’s day. With a variety of chalets, bungalows and villas, there’s something available for families, couples, or even a solo adventurer.
Opononi, Hokianga, Northland
Making the top ten of trending destinations from recent data, Opononi is proving to still be an incredibly popular destination for a getaway. The small town in Hokianga came to fame in the 1950s due to the arrival of the iconic dolphin, Opo. Opo was a bottlenose dolphin who would visit during the summer and play with the local children. Visitors are sure to have fond memories in this beautiful Northland beach region with plenty to offer.
Where to stay: Oponoi Hotel offers visitors a rich historical experience for those wanting to explore the beautiful Northland. Guests can wind down after a day of riding the sand dunes, enjoying a cold drink and a bowl of hot chips on a hot summer’s day.
Like many parts of the Coromandel Peninsula in the late 1800s, the main attraction for settlers was the gold and timber. Prospectors began mining operations around Whangamata in 1887, on a ridge in the Wentworth valley near the Wairoa Stream, calling the area the Goldwater Claim. Whangamata is a relatively quiet town during the year, which sees hundreds of visitors from Auckland and around the North Island in the summertime. Offering a long stretch of beautiful beach which evolves into an estuary, this holiday hotspot will take visitors back to their memories of renting a Bach for the whole whānau to enjoy.
Where to stay: Pipi Palace encompasses everything a traditional Kiwi Bach should be. Filled with character and beach vibes, this accommodation can be found using the ‘Holiday Homes’ function on Booking.com when searching for properties in Whangamata.
Those who like to head up to Northland for the summer months may like to discover Matapouri, a coastal settlement 35 kilometres north-east of Whangarei. Te Wai o Te Taniwha, the Mermaid Pools, were a major tourist destination at Matapouri, but were closed indefinitely in 2019. Despite the Mermaid Pools being out of action, there’s still plenty to rediscover such as the walkway via the coast to Whale Bay.
Where to stay: Spectacular Woolleys Bay – Matapouri Holiday Home is situated in Matapouri and only 50m from Wooleys Bay Beach, offering beautiful sea views and outdoor living. This spacious holiday home is the perfect spot for visitors to bask in the slow lifestyle Northland has to offer.
For those who live near Otago, Arrowtown, Otago is an easy win when it comes to holidaying in New Zealand. The area is rich in history, as it is a historical gold mining town that was colonised by the British and Chinese gold miners. Arrowtown is charming and quirky, nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River.
Where to stay: Arrowtown Country Cottage is a cozy stay, perfect for families who want to reminisce on their nostalgic getaways. The cottage is full of character, with an outdoor patio in the adorable garden. Guests will be blown away by all the charm the cottage, and town, has to offer.