Across the globe, travel has been on the back burner and while we’ve been lucky here in Aotearoa to explore our backyard, Kiwis are itching to get back to international travel. It’s just in our nature, right?
With the Australian travel bubble now open and the Cook Islands bubble on the horizon, hope fills the air as would-be travellers are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (thank GOD). A big part of that optimism is driven by the roll-out of vaccines and the development of other medical advances in the battle against COVID-19. In fact research by accomodation website booking.com shows that two thirds of Kiwi travellers (59%)* feel more hopeful about travelling in 2021!
And, that first trip will see many stepping out alone – with the research also revealing the solo travel trend is gathering momentum with 23% of Kiwis intent on planning a solo trip in the future.
So, here’s eight different ways to have the time of your life while you’re ridin’ solo, and the best places to stay!
Go on a gourmet getaway
To really get a taste of a destination, it’s all about experiencing it like a local – and that means food! For two thirds (68%) of Kiwi travellers, local food/cuisine is a top decision factor when picking a destination. For solo foodies looking for a culinary adventure, a road trip through New South Wales is just the ticket. Whilst Sydney boasts an exciting variety of vibrant restaurants and bars, coastal areas such as Newcastle and Byron Bay provide opportunities to try stunning meat and seafood delicacies. From personalised wine tours and gourmet dinners, to street eats and food trucks, New South Wales truly has some of the most diverse and elegant wine and dining experiences Australia has to offer.
Top Tip: Wherever the destination, be sure to look up its local delicacy before you set off to start planning your foodie schedule and get an idea of which places (whether a street food stall or fine-dining restaurant) really are a must-eat!
Sydney Suite, New South Wales, Australia
Get off the beaten track
Going solo means there’s no debate or compromise necessary when it comes to where to go and what to do. So, when it comes to planning your trip, why not think about roads less travelled? Almost half of Kiwi travellers (47%) will seek out more rural, off the beaten path experiences. These less-travelled destinations offer the chance to meet fellow minded travellers searching for a similar travel experience and when traveling off-piste, friendly faces will be welcomed.
For that reason, Marlborough Sounds should be at the top of your list. This gem of a destination in the north east tip of the South Island is highly endorsed by Booking.com travellers for its friendly locals – who better to show you around? Visitors here can experience a rural and authentic New Zealand, with an abundance of beautiful scenery at your fingertips. Try a number of the hikes around the coast, mountain biking through the Queen Charlotte track or kayaking on the Marlborough Sounds, a real paradise for rural travellers.
Top Tip: Ask your accommodation owner or host for tips on the must-see things to do or places to visit. It might sound obvious, but friendly local intel can ensure you don’t miss the hidden gem your chosen destination has to offer!
Picton Waterfront Luxury Apartments, Marlborough, New Zealand
Seek out solo options for city seekers
Not all solo trips need to be about finding yourself on a mountain top – a short city escape can be just as rewarding and reenergising! Enjoy the hustle and bustle of a new destination and explore a new metropolis. Melbourne might be the perfect getaway for those stepping out solo (when the bubble opens once again!) Famous for its many laneways, excellent dining options, cultural diversity and amazing street art, the south-eastern coastal capital offers a hub of culture and entertainment like no other. It is also highly endorsed by Booking.com for its friendly people so lots of welcoming faces and new friends to be made as you stroll along Hosier Lane.
Top Tip: Explore the city on foot to better get your bearings and experience what a new city has to offer. At many destinations you could join a guided walking tour to see all sides of the city too while also learning about the local history and culture.
Quay West Suites, Melbourne, Australia
Picking a shoppers’ paradise
A solo getaway is the perfect opportunity to indulge in your favourite pastimes and hobbies. More than a third (40%) of Kiwi travellers are keen to pick out a destination based on its shopping credentials, so for fashion fans and shopaholics, a solo shopping trip might be just the ticket. Leisurely browsing with no interruptions! For New Zealanders looking for the ultimate shopper’s getaway on Kiwi soil, Auckland is a no-brainer. Visitors can live out their retail dreams, exploring the iconic shopping precincts including Britomart and the new Commercial Bay and uncovering new brands and trends by searching out pop-up stores and sample sales.
Top Tip: Timing is key – whether you want to hit the sale season or avoid it, make sure you know when it starts at your destination before booking
Enjoy some TLC time
Solo travel is the perfect opportunity to put yourself first and take some ‘me time’ to relax and unwind. If you want to spend the whole day on the beach with your head stuck in a book or taking leisurely coastal walks solo to breathe in that fresh sea air, so be it! Rarotonga in the Cook Islands really dazzles when it comes to relaxing beach days with its idyllic white sandy beaches and trendy beach-side resorts – the perfect place to people watch. As for accommodation, solo travellers looking for some peace and quiet should also seek out one of the Cook Island’s adult only hotels.
Top Tip: Don’t forget to research the beach type, such as avoiding pebble beach destinations if you prefer the feeling of sand between your toes.
Castaway resort, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Do something you’ll never forget
Solo travel is also a great opportunity to be adventurous and do something you wouldn’t normally do. Make me-time memories you will cherish forever. Queenstown attracts travellers from all over the world to embark on an unforgettable experience, whether to see the Milford Sounds or to jump off the highest bridge in the country. It is easy to see why Queenstown features as one of Booking.com’s top destinations recommended by travellers for adventure. Solo travellers are spoiled for choice on their adventure itinerary here!
Top Tip: Even if it is just a photo of the tiny details you notice about a place, get snap happy so you can look back and remember your perspective of a destination. Bring a selfie stick to help get some angles where you can be in the photos.
Kamana Lakehouse, Queenstown, New Zealand
Travel about with ease
Truly experiencing a destination is about more than the places you visit and the foods you try. It’s the little things like getting to know the public transportation – especially in cities like Melbourne or Wellington (above) where you can hop on a tram, bus or cable car and be across town in no time. Not only is public transport a great chance to see more of a destination but it is also a cost-effective solution for solo travellers.
Top Tip: Always remember to save down maps that will work offline so you can explore a destination knowing that even if your phone has no Wi-Fi or service, the saved maps will help get you from A to B.
QT Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Choose the right accommodation
sComfort is key when traveling solo so it’s important to pick the right property as your temporary home away from home. Consider the amenities needed to ensure you feel connected to those at home; such as free Wi-Fi, which is the most important amenity for two thirds (67%) of Kiwi travellers – especially in a beach house in Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Top Tip: Booking.com has more than 207 million verified reviews from real guests, so make sure to read the previous reviews to find the stay that’s right for you. Solo travellers can also maximize various search filters to find an accommodation to suit their preferences
Bottletree Gardens – Mini Manson Blue, Gold Coast, Australia