Pent up travel bugs cross the ditch

A view across Queenstown to alps and Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand
Queenstown, with its stunning vistas, has become a playground for Australians itching to travel. Photo: Julian Garcia.

Australian tourists are expected to flock to Queenstown in droves as the adventure hotspot lures travel-hungry Aussies.

The Trans-Tasman bubble which allowed Australians to make a quick dash to the resort town of Queenstown — located on the shores of the south island’s Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by a backdrop of southern alps — saw demand for tourism skyrocket last year.

Demand in April 2021 jumped by 1150 per cent in comparison to the previous year, reaching a point relative to pre-pandemic demand.

Destination Queenstown marketing and communications director Sarah O’Donnell said Queenstown has always been a popular tourist destination for Australians. 

“Pre-COVID, the Australian market made up 40 per cent of total international expenditure in Queenstown and made up the largest proportion of international visitation to Queenstown (over 30 per cent),” she said.

“At this stage it is a little too early to tell how international visitation will return, but there are strong signs of pent-up demand for travel to Queenstown from Australia which is fantastic to see.

“Although the [quarantine free travel] arrangement was short-lived, it definitely brought a lot of optimism and hope for operators and also provided an opportunity to showcase Queenstown to the Australian market.”

Sarah O’Donnell

“Although we do not have data on this, this period may have also provided an opportunity to introduce the New Zealand offering to a portion of Australians who hadn’t considered a trip across the ditch previously.”

Receptionist at ski company NZSki, Lara Sons, said the COVID bubble has had a significant and beneficial effect on Australian demand for Queenstown tourism.

Ms Sons said they have received “multiple calls a day” for bookings, with the majority from Australians.

Paragliding is a popular choice for travellers when exploring Queenstown, nicknamed the ‘home of adventure’. Photo: Gregory McFerran.

Destination Queenstown data and insights analyst Eilidh Blanchard said Queenstown was the most in demand destination in [New Zealand] from Australia. 

She said the majority of demand coming from Australia stemmed largely from New South Wales, with Western Australia ranking fourth in popularity. 

Miss Blanchard said anecdotally, they had heard winter was looking “promising” for bookings. 

Statistics from Google Trends track searches made across Google. Where 100 on the y-axis represents the maximum relative demand over the represented period of 5 years. Credit: Gregory McFerran.

The second and third most in-demand cities in New Zealand are Aukland and Wellington respectively. 

Hello World Morley Consultant Steve Bargiev said New Zealand, in general, was a popular tourist destination. 

Mr Bargiev said demand is in part due to New Zealand’s proximity to Australia and the way in which the country has managed the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“[New Zealand] is one of the first countries to come out of covid restrictions which makes it easier for people to travel to,” he said.

“The way in which [New Zealand] has been managed, has made people a lot more comfortable.”

“It is a neighbouring country, which is pretty attractive for a lot of people.”

Steve Bargiev

Beyond that, it is quite simple for Mr Bargiev as he said pent-up demand for tourism makes Queenstown a logical choice.

“It has a lot of things going for it … it has so much to give.” 

Categories: Travel