Where in their own country would New Zealanders like to visit in the next two years? A leading research company decided to ask them, and came up with some interesting answers, given that New Zealanders probably know New Zealand better than anyone else.

New research from Roy Morgan has revealed that the Bay of Islands/ Northland (29.1%) at the northern end of the North Island and about 200km north of New Zealand’s largest city (Auckland) is the leading domestic destination New Zealanders would like to visit in the next two years. It came in just ahead of South Island holiday town Queenstown (27.8%). Queenstown is extremely beautiful though increasingly crowded.

Other popular destinations on the North Island include Coromandel (23.8%), Wellington (22.3%), Greater Auckland (17%) and Bay of Plenty (16.6%) while other popular South Island destinations include Nelson (21.8%), Canterbury/Christchurch (18.7%) and Wanaka (16.9%).

Nearly two-thirds of New Zealanders nominated destinations somewhere on the North Island (66.5%) compared to 59.9% nominating South Island destinations as places to visit over the next two years. Both islands were more popular as destinations to visit over the next two years than either Australia (43.9%) or other overseas destinations (50.2%).

Below: Top 10 domestic destinations New Zealanders would like to visit in the next two years

However – and here’s the surprise – although respondents may have desirable holiday destination preferences in mind, further research shows that where Kiwis actually go is very different.

In the 12 months to June 2018, Greater Auckland was the top holiday destination visited by Kiwis (15.7%), followed by capital city Wellington (12.4%), the South Island’s largest city Christchurch/Canterbury (11%), Bay of Plenty (10.1%) with Bay of Islands/Northland the fifth most visited destination on 7.7%.

As with holiday destination preferences, significantly more New Zealanders travel to North Island destinations (45.4%) than South Island destinations (25%) while around 14% of New Zealanders have visited Australia in the last year and 16% have travelled to other overseas destinations.

Commenting on the findings, Roy Morgan chief executive, Michele Levine, noted that the North Island was the preferred travel destination for Kiwis in 2018 with 66.5% of Kiwis nominating a North Island destination as a place they would like to travel over the next two years.

“That’s marginally ahead of South Island destinations mentioned by 59.9% of New Zealanders,” Levine said.

“Perhaps indicating a preference for warmer weather among some New Zealanders it is the coastal resorts of the Bay of Islands/ Northland, about 200km north of New Zealand’s largest city of Auckland, that is now New Zealand’s most popular domestic destination mentioned by 29.1% of New Zealanders.

“Popular South Island resort town Queenstown is mentioned by 27.8% of respondents and is the leading destination on the more rural and mountainous South Island. Other popular destinations include Coromandel mentioned by 23.8% of respondents and the capital city of Wellington mentioned by 21.8%.

“Although the Bay of Islands is the region New Zealanders want to go, only 7.7% of New Zealanders have travelled to the sub-tropical northern outpost in the last year. New Zealand’s largest city of Greater Auckland is the country’s most visited destination with 15.7% of respondents visiting Auckland in the last year ahead of capital city Wellington on 12.4%.”

Edited by Peter Needham