Airbnb, Wotif and ski fields report boom in Kiwi tourists at New Zealand winter destinations

Accommodation services are reporting huge numbers of New Zealanders flocking to the country's winter destinations this year.

As international travel remains extremely limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kiwis are turning to their own snowy backyard for holidays closer to home.

In some places, this means even more bookings than regular years when foreign tourists are allowed.

On Wednesday night, Coronet Peak recorded more than 3500 people packing its slopes on the ski season's opening - the "largest crowd in years" according to Stuff.

Airbnb is reporting massive increases in bookings by New Zealanders in residences near ski fields in both the North and South Islands.

The accommodation website says domestic bookings in June when compared to the same month in 2019 are up 158 percent in Queenstown and 74 percent in Ohakune. is also recording a massive increase in domestic interest in winter travel, reporting a huge jump in searches for July bookings in June when compared to May. 

The hotel reservation website says accommodation interest in Canterbury jumped by over 2200 percent during the period, while interest in Taupo jumped by over 310 percent.

"Kiwi families have a new-found appreciation for local travel after spending months indoors," says managing director Daniel Finch.

"After months of uncertainty, families will start to embrace travel again by heading to familiar experiences where they feel most comfortable. We're also seeing operators relax strict cancellation policies and offer better flexibility, to help travellers with peace of mind, so it's a great time to get back out the and enjoy a local getaway."

"It's encouraging to see that after an initial surge in domestic bookings, people are continuing to be excited about getting out and immersing themselves in all the things that make New Zealand so great," says Airbnb's NZ and Australia manager Susan Wheeldon.

"All we need now is for the weather gods to cooperate and provide some fresh snowfalls and blue-bird days for everyone to enjoy.

"It's been great to see people getting out there and supporting communities that have been hard-hit in recent times."

Ski resort operators have promised Kiwis that 2020 will likely be the best year ever to explore winter destinations and it appears that many are taking advantage of that.