- By: Eugene De Villiers and Prashant Yadav
It is said that New Zealand features on most people’s bucket list as a must-visit destination.
Their travel plans had to be put on hold due the coronavirus-induced lockdown, but our guess is that this is simply tentative and short term. New Zealand, under the leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has managed the pandemic so well, that the country can leverage its success to bolster the bucket-list value of this incredible destination.
The first cab off-the-rank started this week when domestic travel opened up to all, as New Zealand entered Alert Level One. The next cab expected will be the cross-Tasman Bubble that will allow travel between Australia and New Zealand, which we all hope will start within the next two months.
“Our aim is to put forward a detailed set of recommendations that safely manage any health risks, while also allowing Kiwis and Australians to travel to each other’s country without the need for 14-day quarantine,” Scott Tasker, co-chair of the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group, which is developing the plans, said in a statement. Our fingers are crossed!
New Zealand is a popular outbound travel destination for Australians, with 1.5 million of them arriving from across the Tasman Sea in 2019. Likewise, Australia is a popular outbound travel destination for New Zealanders. So, the Tasman Bubble will be of great value to both countries.
“The trans-Tasman bubble is certainly a possibility,” Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said. “If we look at the countries that are doing extremely well in controlling this COVID-19 problem, New Zealand is, if anything, a bit better than us. They have very few cases now.”
Almost all coronavirus restrictions in New Zealand have been lifted since the country reported no active cases. Schools and workplaces open with no limitations on gatherings or domestic travel. Social distancing, however, is still encouraged and New Zealand’s international borders will continue to remain shut to non-residents, to prevent new outbreaks.
Innovating change using technology
Post-COVID innovation has businesses helping customers to keep track of where they have been, with QR codes as well as the NZ COVID Tracer, which allows us to trace the contacts of anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19. Recording people’s movements helps the country to do this quickly and efficiently. The faster we trace contacts, the faster we can prevent further spread of the disease.
Domestic tourism to shore up the travel industry
New Zealanders are rushing to their holiday homes, to their favourite restaurants, to golf courses and, of course, fishing in the country’s rich and plentiful oceans. I cannot wait to play golf with my mates at Whitford Golf Club in Auckland.
Kiwis would normally spend NZ$9 billion a year on overseas travel before the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism NZ is hoping to encourage them to spend as much on domestic tourism. Most Kiwis can think of at least one thing they have always longed to do in New Zealand, but have never got around to doing it.
Ms. Jacinda Ardern, during a Facebook Live video, asked for ideas to support Kiwis to make the most of travelling within the country. She said she heard New Zealanders talking about more flexibility with leaves and travel policies so they could travel more. Also, she got multiple suggestions about a four-day week work schedule and this is still under discussion.
Why travel within, and to, New Zealand?
New Zealand is popular for its fabled locations and scenic beauty. But there is more to the destination.
Ticking off bucket-list hikes, taking the kids to see the snow, visiting the “smelly mud pools” of Rotorua, getting a spa treatment in a natural spa, and swimming with dolphins are among the activities on the wishlist of many Kiwis who feature in Tourism New Zealand’s new domestic campaign.
Don’t just spend time at your holiday “batch” (holiday home), but visit new regions, stay in hotels, motels and resorts. Discover New Zealand’s fantastic lodges. Other activities on several bucket lists in a promotional video include taking a helicopter ride over Mount Cook, visiting Stewart Island and Fiordland, staying at Plateau Hut on Aoraki/Mt Cook, conquering a fear of the dark to go black water rafting, and experiencing the Catlins.
Maybe a jet boat in Waitemata Harbour, or America’s Cup Boat race to Waiheke for lunch, and then for the uninitiated, heli-skiing to the finest virgin snow slopes around Queenstown. Or my personal favourite, heli-fishing in a unique spot only accessible by helicopter. Have you ever seen a Kiwi bird in real life? Maybe this is our chance? Or try the night walk in the Redwood treetops in Rotorua, a sensational experience.
Who is not excited about the upcoming 36th America’s Cup, presented by PRADA, where teams compete for the oldest trophy in international sport that dates back to 1851! While the America’s Cup World series starts in December 2020, it will be followed by the PRADA Cup beginning 15 January, 2021, in Auckland. I so enjoyed the last time this competition was held in Auckland, that I will be on the water for this one too.