Top destinations New Zealanders will travel to this Easter

A third of New Zealanders say they will be out exploring the regions and supporting small businesses this Easter, according to YouGov research commissioned by Airbnb.

Airbnb says the ten most-searched regional destinations for Easter are Queenstown, Rotorua, Taupo, Tauranga, Napier, Coromandel, Wanaka, Nelson, Raglan and Martinborough.

"For Easter, we're seeing a lot of demand for homes designed for relaxing and unwinding and reconnecting with family and friends. Not surprisingly, swimming pools and pet-friendly properties are popular, as well as unique stays that bring guests closer to nature," says Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb's Country Manager for New Zealand and Australia.

Explore Bay of Islands says it has a good number of bookings for the long Easter weekend.

The tourism group runs water-based activities including cruising, sailing and also offers marine and mammal experiences to showcase the region.

Marketing manager Aimee Jones says this year is a stark contrast to last Easter when New Zealand was in the middle of a Level 4 lockdown.

"As it has been for everyone, it's been an extremely tough 12 months. We very much went into hibernation last winter. We've had a reasonably good summer, we've had good weather with New Zealanders getting out and about but it's certainly been challenging," says Jones.

But this Easter weekend the group has added additional departures to its schedule.

"We've actually had great forward bookings for a couple of weeks now, so we're hoping for a great weekend with some sunshine," says Jones.

Police say the message for this Easter is "slow down, phone down and buckle up".

"We want to ensure everyone can enjoy their Easter holiday plans and return home safely," says Inspector Pete Jones, acting Director National Road Policing Centre.

"It may sound like a broken record but we have to keep pushing our safe driving behaviour messages in order to change attitudes and save lives.

"If you are driving, then you need to focus on the road to get everybody in the car to your destination safely. Put the phone down. There is no text, post or call that is so important to risk your life for," he says.

For motorists heading north of Auckland this Easter, there are hopes new median and roadside barriers in Dome Valley will provide protection from vehicles travelling in the opposite direction.

"Where we've treated roads with median barriers in New Zealand, we've found death and serious injuries reductions by at least 65 percent. In some cases where we have both median and roadside barriers we can see death and serious injuries reduction by as much as 90 percent."