House of Travel experts share the seven bucket list destinations to add to your travel wishlist

Soneva Fushi Resort, Maldives.
Soneva Fushi Resort, Maldives. Photo credit: Supplied

There are a lot of travel locations out there, but we wanted to narrow it down to those breathtaking, awe-inspiring, not-to-be missed travel experiences for you to experience this year or next! So we turned to the experts – the people that live, breathe and eat exciting adventures and those not to be missed experiences. 

House of Travel experts from around the country have given us the inside word on what to put on your travel bucket list — whether you're looking for epic walking adventures, cultural experiences or exotic romantic escapes – we have it covered!


Best time to go: March-May and September–November 

Looking to blow both your mind and senses? For a world away from the everyday, put Marrakesh on your list. One of the largest cities in Morocco, Marrakesh is home to fragrant bustling souks, ancient tombs, leather tanneries, delicious food and serene hidden gardens.

House of Travel Merivale-Shirley’s Nicky de Clifford says it's one of her all-time favourite destinations – especially the iconic Jemaa el Fnaa Square, which she calls "a hive of activity and quite an assault on your senses." 

The list of experiences (and vividly coloured Instagram opportunities) is extensive.

Menara Pavilion and Gardens, Marrakesh.
Menara Pavilion and Gardens, Marrakesh. Photo credit: Getty Images

"Watch your step as the snake charmers do their thing, listen to the storytellers, get a henna tattoo or enjoy the local Berber musicians," says Clifford. 

She recommends spending 10 to 14 days in this vibrant spot, chicking out the markets (preferably with a guide) and learning to take the local cuisine home with you in one of the cooking classes. 

Her must do experience: "We went out into the Sahara desert and enjoyed a night out under the stars with the local Bedouins. This was a fantastic experience, apart from the goats getting loose in our tent!" 

Learn more about Nicky's experience here


Best time to go: November to May.

You may have experienced Vietnam and Thailand, but if you haven't ventured further south to Cambodia yet, it's time to put it on your bucket list. Ancient wonders and modern technology collide in this Southeast Asian nation, a favourite of House of Travel's CEO  Bruce Parton. 

If you're a history buff, put the ancient Angkor temples, including Angkor Wat, on your must-see list. As there's so much to learn, Parton recommends checking them out with a guide. 

"One of the best ways to explore the famous Jungle Temple is by bike – you’ll ride through back roads and jungle paths to experience a selection of the Angkor temples without the crowds," says Parton. 

Phnom Penh-National Museum of Cambodia.
Phnom Penh-National Museum of Cambodia. Photo credit: Supplied

If you're after a little luxury, he recommends enjoying a private island experience during a visit to Song Saa, as well as enjoying a cooking class in Siem Reap. 

"​​We made the most delicious coconut fish curry I’ve ever tasted!". 

HIs must do experience: "Miss the crowds and fly high over the Angkor Wat temples in a hot air balloon – the views and enormity of this area is simply breathtaking."

Read more about Bruce's Cambodia travel tips here

New York

The best time to visit: During the December-January festive (and freezing!) season 

They say if you can make it there you can make it anywhere – so it's good news that making it to New York is easier than ever for Kiwis, thanks to new direct flights. Even if you've previously visited the city that never sleeps, Katrina Cole from House of Travel Botany Junction says New Year's Eve offers a "magical" NYC experience like no other. 

"Celebrating New Year’s Eve in New York is pure bucket-list material. Seeing 5th Avenue all dressed up for the holiday season, taking in the Rockettes Christmas Show, sampling roasted chestnuts from a street vendor, ice skating, and Times Square - it's big, bright and unforgettable," she says. 

New York.
New York. Photo credit: Supplied

She recommends spending a week, but at least three days, to fit it all in. See shows, check out upper Manhattan, grab a rooftop cocktail and get a sandwich from an authentic New York diner. 

Her must do experience: "An absolute highlight was going to the Bronx area and visiting the Museum of Black America. Head into a church and listen to the angelic voices of the gospel choir - amazing." 

Find the ultimate three-day guide to NYC from Katrina here


Best time to go: May and September.

Have terrible memories of rained out family vacations spent bickering in the back of cars? Yeah, us too. So for a family holiday with a difference, pack up the whole fam for a French canal boat holiday. You may have done a romantic jaunt to Paris with your lover in the past, but if you're travelling with a brood, Tanya Aitken from HOT Papamoa, Mt Maunganui & The Crossing says cruising the canals is the best way to see the country.

"What better way to be flexible, run to our own agenda and see the natural beauty of France than by canal boat? 

She and her husband took their two children on one of the best family holidays they've experienced, and assure us that no pre-boating experience is needed – although some study on the general rules and tips is recommended. 

Petit Venise Colmar, France.
Petit Venise Colmar, France. Photo credit: Supplied

"We would spend the days either relaxing on-board and cruising along to the next spot, or parking up for a look around. Cooking is one of my greatest pleasures, so being able to purchase fresh produce, whip up a stunning meal and devour it on deck, as the sun went down, doubled the enjoyment."

Her must do: "We had lovely residents come and meet our boat and then take us to incredible wineries. We even found a Michelin restaurant a short stroll from the dock, and awed at the oh-so-perfect French villages." 

Read more about Tanya's canal boating tips and tricks here.  


Best time to visit:  May-June and September 

Many of us developed a love of walking during various lockdowns, and so it's time to put those hours of pounding the pavement to use. If you're looking to tick off an incredible achievement this year or beyond, put Spain's great Camino de Santiago  walk – aka the Way of St. James – Spain on your bucket list. 

Brigitta Moore from House of Travel Northlands is your go-to person on this: she and her husband took on the intense journey after watching The Way, about one man's journey on the 800km pilgrimage journey to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in the northwest of Spain. Two years later (after some immense training) they set off. Moore says "there's nothing else like it". 

The Plaza de España in the Parque de María Luisa, in Seville, Spain.
The Plaza de España in the Parque de María Luisa, in Seville, Spain. Photo credit: Getty Images

"We loved this experience for many reasons. We met so many wonderful people from all walks of life along the way. We stumbled upon festivals as we walked, where the streets were filled with parades and lined with markets,' she said. 

Highlights include exploring the cobbled streets and ancient Cathedrals of Spanish cities, and eating the local food and local fine wines.

Her must do: Take a rooftop tour at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral for incredible views.

To learn more of Moore's tips and tricks for undergoing the journey — including ways to prepare and the best footwear - head here


Best time to visit: The dry season in the Maldives runs from November to April

After New Zealand's less than stellar summer, we're all in need of a little sun, sand and sea. And hey, if you're going on holiday – do it right. The Maldives have always sounded reserved for celebrities and the rich and famous, but a VIP-worthy holiday in a bungalow over crystal clear waters is available to us Kiwis. 

Dave Williams, from House of Travel Christchurch City says the once in a lifetime holiday destination goes hand in hand with a generous dash of indulgence – perfect for honeymooners or those celebrating a special occasion. "Don’t think about the price!" he recommends. 

Soneva Fushi Resort, Maldives.
Soneva Fushi Resort, Maldives. Photo credit: Supplied

Instead, focus on relaxation, sunrise champagne breakfasts and some of the best snorkelling in the world. Even the movie nights are done with a luxurious island spin. 

"Enjoy a barefoot luxury experience, relax on a beanbag, feet in the sand and enjoy a movie under the collection of stunning stars." 

His must do: "The iconic Soneva Fushi Resort takes fine dining to exhilarating new heights with its Flying Sauces restaurant: the world's first fine dining zipline experience. Gliding high above the jungle you 'land' on the dining tower that provides the most exceptional views out across the ocean."

Learn more about David Williams' Maldives recommendations here


Best time to go: From end of September through to early March

Your 2023 bucket list is all about those natural wonders, so here's another for the list. Seeing the Northern Lights – otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis –  in person is something we must all do once in our lives.  They can be witnessed in several northern hemisphere spots including Canada, Alaska and Finland, but Jacqueline Kennedy from House of Travel Cruise says Norway should be your bucket list pick. 

"There is something about Norway covered in snow. The opportunity to go dog sledding just adds to the ambience –  and what can be better than to top it off with a glimpse of the Northern Lights?" she says. 

Aurora Borealis, Norway.
Aurora Borealis, Norway. Photo credit: Supplied

She recommends going on a coastal cruise for the best chance to catch the lights (you might get a discount if they don't show). On land, Kennedy recommends trying snowshoeing and a guided snowmobile ride along the snowy trails. 

Her must do: "For a truly unique experience spend a night in the Snow Hotel in Kirkenes – it literally is made of snow and ice and gets rebuilt each December in a different decorative theme!"

For more on the best way to catch the Northern Lights travel trips, check out Jacquline Kennedy's Norway travel tips here.

Article created in partnership with House of Travel.