As the world opened up in 2023, New Zealanders seized the opportunity to travel abroad in numbers not seen in the previous year. Statistics New Zealand reported an unprecedented rise in New Zealand-resident traveller arrivals, with figures reaching 2.48 million by the end of September 2023—an increase of 1.66 million compared to the same period in 2022.
This upward trajectory in travel was not confined to short-haul trips across the Tasman. New Zealanders broadened their horizons, with significant increases in arrivals from traditional travel partners like Australia, which saw a rise of 622,000 arrivals, and Fiji, which enjoyed an increase of 108,000. However, it was not just neighbouring countries that caught the attention of Kiwis. The United States, India, the United Kingdom, China, and Samoa also saw substantial boosts in visitor numbers from New Zealand.
A deeper dive into the data reveals a clear preference for destinations that offer a mix of relaxation and cultural experiences. The Hawaiian island of Oahu, in particular, witnessed a surge in interest from Kiwi travellers. Known for its stunning beaches, rich history, and luxury accommodation, Oahu’s best hotels became a beacon for those looking to indulge in a premium vacation experience.
As New Zealanders increasingly value immersive travel experiences, destinations that provide a blend of cultural exposure and high-end amenities are becoming the new go-to. This shift reflects a broader global trend towards experiential travel and suggests that the travel industry may need to adapt to meet these evolving consumer preferences.
As we look ahead, the question remains: will this trend continue to grow, or is it a temporary spike driven by the release of pent-up demand? Only time will tell, but for now, the industry can take heart in the renewed vigour with which Kiwis are returning to the skies.