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1. Sri Lanka
Recommended by SAMANTHA JOHNSTON, HOUSE OF TRAVEL TAUPO
If you are in Colombo and a crustacean fan, check out the Ministry of Crab. Consistently voted one of Asia’s best restaurants where you can feast on a range of crabs weighing up to 2kgs, plus oysters, clams and prawns, all while taking in the iconic 400 year old Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct.
Recommended by ANGELA DELANY HOUSE OF TRAVEL TAUPO
Samoa is a beautiful country with friendly, smiling faces. It is like stepping back in time a decade or two. While five days is a perfect amount of time to relax on the main Island of Upolu, if you have a little bit longer, I recommend popping over to Samoa’s second island, Savaii, for two or three nights as well. Here you can relax on some gorgeous beaches in some traditional accommodation but also experience a little of what nature has to offer. From the Falealupo Canopy Walk through the treetops to Alofaaga Blowholes or Afu Aau Waterfalls, there is lots to explore. So pack your walking shoes along with your flippers and get exploring.
Recommended by LAUREN RENNEY HOUSE OF TRAVEL TAUPO
Travelling to the Maldives has always been a bucket-list destination for me and I could not have imagined a more pristine, exotic and breath takingly beautiful place. My husband and I stayed at Club Med Kani for seven nights. We spent half of our stay in a beachfront room and the other in an overwater bungalow. It is hard to choose which one I prefer. The beachfront room was quiet and secluded, like my own private beach. And the outdoor shower was glorious. The overwater bungalow was incredible. We could climb down a ladder to swim with baby sharks. My husband and I enjoy diving and the Maldives is a 10 out of 10 destination for this. I have never seen such a concentration of tropical fish in one location. Travel to the Maldives at least once in your life. You will not be disappointed.
Recommended by AMBER McNULTY HOUSE OF TRAVEL CROMWELL
As a former Spanish colony, the Philippines stands apart from most other south-east Asian countries because Christianity is the dominant faith and the landscape’s speckled with churches. It’s also different in terms of tourism, which is still, by-and-large, underdeveloped. Getting from A to B requires trundling into the back of a Jeepney, along with the market chickens and a bucket of sardines, while advertised boat
tours are more akin to a ride in a bamboo rowboat. The natural beauty of this landscape, from idyllic powdery white sand beaches and dusty road tracks framed by tumbling wooden shacks, is gloriously untouched.
While many Philippine beaches are idyllic, the jaw-dropping ones saturating social media right now are almost always found in the cluster of islands known as El Nido Palawan. You’re better off flying here from Manila or Cebu (1 hour and 3 hours respectively) as a ferry takes between 24 and 48 hours!
5. Cruising the Greek Islands
Recommended by JACQUI HARVEY HOUSE OF TRAVEL NEW LYNN
Discover the gorgeous Greek Islands by small ship, exploring islands such as Crete, Mykonos and Santorini. It’s a relaxing alternative to island hopping by ferry, and you cruise during the night, waking to a different island each morning. You’ll only unpack
once, the cabins are spotless and there’s a concierge on hand, with all meals, drinks and excursions included, as well as local guides. Join an escorted tour or wander off and do your own thing. When in Santorini, next to the Agios Charalambos church is Metaxi Mas, a gorgeous Cretan and Santorinian restaurant. It spills out onto the cobbled lane and has the best food, but you must book in advance because it’s popular with locals.
Recommended by DOMINIC SUTTON HOUSE OF TRAVEL HAMILTON
With direct flights from Auckland, Chicago is a great gateway to more of North America. From Chicago, bucketlist places such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Eastern Canada are all within easy reach. But first, Chicago itself! Dubbed “Mini New York” the city boasts fantastic blues music, hundreds of Magnificent Mile shops, and the world’s first skyscraper. If you are a pizza fan head to Anthony Bourdain’s preferred deep dish pizzeria, Bonci. Find it at 161 N Sangamon Street.
Recommended by NICK MAI HOUSE OF TRAVEL PARNELL
Recommended by BRENT HAINES HOUSE OF TRAVEL BROADWAY
Tokyo is an amazing city to visit! For a city of this size the cleanliness is unbelievable, no rubbish bins and yet not a drop of litter in sight. Chocolate lovers like me will enjoy heading to the Kit Kat Café in Ginza with over 200 flavours available, including wasabi if you dare. Movie buffs should head to Gonpachi Izakaya for great traditional Japanese food and photo opportunity in the restaurant that featured in the movie Kill Bill starring Uma Thurman. Shibuya crossing is possibly the busiest intersection in the world and my top tip to get the best photo is to head to the Starbucks to capture the organised chaos.
or one of the most exciting days of your life, Go-Karting through the streets of Tokyo dressed up as a Mario Kart character is an absolutely amazing experience and such a unique way of seeing the city.
9. Safari in Botswana
Recommended by CAITLIN BROOKLAND HOUSE OF TRAVEL LAKERS INVERCARGILL
10. Hervey Bay and Fraser Island
Recommended by TANIA MATSELSKAYA HOUSE OF TRAVEL ELLERSLIE
Hervey Bay is the only place on earth where Humpback Whales stop during their annual migration to Antarctica. Book onto a full or half-day whale watching tour and get within metres of humpbacks taking a few “rest days” with their calves. The best time to see them is when most tours are operating, which is from the end of August until the end of October. Humpback whales are notoriously curious so they’re likely to come up to the bow and say hello. Whale tours are fully booked months in advance so make sure you ask your consultant to secure your place on the boat as soon as possible.
From Hervey Bay it’s just a hop and a skip to Fraser Island. An idyllic speckle of land defined by empty beaches, angel white sand and turquoise water. Head inland for safe, serene swimming in idyllic lakes and creeks. Lake McKenzie boasts crystal-clear water so blue it gives Tahiti a run for her money, while Eli Creek, a perfectly still freshwater brook, is perfect for an afternoon cool off in the shallows.
Where do you want to go this year? Pop in-store to chat about all your holiday ideals, or click here for all our current global offers.
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