Data reveals some Kiwis are holidaying overseas despite requirement to stay in MIQ when they return

180 Holidays requiring an MIQ stay were taken since the travel bubble with Australia ended.
180 Holidays requiring an MIQ stay were taken since the travel bubble with Australia ended. Photo credit: Getty Images

Travel data suggests a small number of New Zealanders are still taking holidays abroad, according to a report published by RNZ this morning.

In the nine weeks from July 23 - the day the Australian travel bubble ended - Stats NZ said there were 180 holiday trips overseas where people had to stay in MIQ on the way back.

That is despite continued advice not to travel from MFAT.

The data is drawn from passenger arrival cards and what people selected as the main reason for their travel.

It excludes 8439 New Zealanders who took quarantine free-holidays to the Cook Islands, which also had a travel bubble in place until August 17.

Another country in the South Pacific without a travel bubble - Tonga - was still seemingly managing to lure a trickle of holidaymakers, with 108 trips deemed a "holiday/vacation".

The second most popular destination was the US - where there were 18 holidays - then France and Greece where there were nine holidays each and China, where there were six.

Other people ventured further off the beaten track with three holiday trips to Slovenia, three to Namibia, and three to the Maldives.

The average length of holiday was 15 days, followed by 14 days in MIQ.

In the same nine weeks until September 30, people took 913 trips to visit family and friends, and 351 trips for business, to places excluding the Cook Islands.

House of Travel Albany's owner Tim Malone - who runs the Facebook page Kiwis Coming Home - said most people who are booking trips out of the country had pretty serious reasons.

"Quite often their family are in trouble overseas - diagnosed with cancer or a terminal illness of some sort. Another common reason is new grandparents who are going to see a new grandchild who is a couple of years old and they've never met.

"Those sort of things become desperate after a while," he said.

Malone said travel agents do not particularly want to advertise overseas holidays at the moment, because it was likely they would end up cancelling the trip and having to chase up refunds.

From early next year international holidays will be a little bit more within reach, when most fully vaccinated travellers will be allowed to skip managed isolation.

However Malone said people's confidence had been rocked by the short-lived nature of the Australian travel bubble, which resulted in thousands of cancelled holidays.

"I would say the number of Kiwis who booked a holiday and didn't take it would have actually exceeded the number of people who took a holiday and did take it," he said.

Director of travel agency Our World & Our Pacific, Rick Felderhof, said a few people were booking holidays abroad in 2022, but they were playing it safe.

Most were waiting until mid-2022, starting with short-haul trips, and keeping a close eye on Covid-19 developments overseas.

"This new variant has seen new enquiries tank," he said. "And that's understandable because it's obviously received a lot of media coverage and people are going into that uncertain stage as they wait to see the implications of the new variant.

"But we expect that interest will bounce back pretty quickly."

Malone suggested anyone planning on an overseas holiday goes through a travel agent who knows what is safe to book, and how to get refunds if required.