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The world is full of incredible destinations — so much so that picking your next holiday can be tough. Believe us, we get it! To help you along (or make your decision even more difficult), here are some of our consultants' favourite places right now.
Sri Lanka’s warm, crystal clear waters encourage exploration of tropical reefs and sea life, while lush countryside offers rainforests which are home to elephants, leopards, monkeys and other wildlife. The adventurists won’t be able to resist a midnight ascent of Adam’s Peak, arriving at summit by dawn and sitting above the clouds to watch sunrise. My top tip for Sri Lanka would be to combine it with the Maldives. The islands are just a 1.5 hour flight south, so your reward for exertion is a few lazy days on a Maldivian beach.
HOT TIP: If you're 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.
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.
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.
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
HOT TIP: 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!
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.
HOT TIP: 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.
With Air New Zealand offering 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.
In Bali you can live like a king on a tiny budget because your dollar stretches pleasantly far. Enjoy NZ$2 Bintangs (Balinese beer) sipped before a golden sunset and glossy five star accommodation for an unbelievably low price. Saunter from beanbag-dotted sands to your daily spa appointment and devote an hour every day to pampering. Bali has massages for less than NZ$10; swish restaurant meals starting from as little as NZ$15 and rooftop bars pour 2-for-1 cocktails every night.
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.
The big drawcard for Botswana is the waterways network in the Okavango Delta. This ever-changing watery landscape offers a massive variety of wildlife. Bird watchers will not be disappointed either. Camps and lodges tend to be smaller and more intimate than other parts of Africa. Venture south and visit the legendary Kalahari Desert.
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.
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