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Nielsen data reveals NZ travel trends and the brands spending big to attract them

3 minute read | September 2023

● Industry’s biggest ad spenders revealed as travel & tourism ad spend hits $216,273,000
● Top local and OS destinations
● Helloworld Travel dominates as go-to site for bookings

Auckland  – September 25, 2023 – As Kiwis head off for the school holiday break, Nielsen, a global leader in audience measurement, data and analytics, has released its latest insights into the travel plans of New Zealanders and the growing ad budgets being used to attract them. 

Nielsen Consumer Media Insights (CMI)* found that 90% of New Zealanders surveyed, translating to 3,750,000, plan to travel in the next 12 months, with the vast majority (3,307,000) staying in their own backyard. 

The most popular local locations are Queenstown, which received 30% of the vote, followed by Canterbury and Christchurch at 21%, and Auckland, which received 19%. 

While the appeal of local travel remains strong, 40% of New Zealanders (1,678,000) are looking abroad for their next trip, with most eyes gazing across The Tasman. 

A massive 58% of Kiwis planning to travel overseas in the next 12 months say an Australian city is on their list, followed by 31% looking to visit a Pacific Island location, including the Cook Islands, Fiji, or Samoa. For 24%, a UK or European vacation is on the horizon. 

When it comes to the reasons behind their personal travel, 82% of Kiwis say it’s to “unwind and recharge”, regardless of whether it’s domestic or international. However, of those planning to head overseas, 71% say experiencing new cultures, traditions, and history is also a key reason for travelling. 

As Kiwis increasingly go digital, Helloworld Travel has cemented its place as the go-to site for New Zealanders booking travel online. For 54% of those heading overseas and 47% travelling domestically, it’s their first option. 

Meanwhile, an impressive 71% of respondents, translating to 2,933,000 Kiwis, say they’re open to going on a cruise in the next year, with the majority attracted to destinations in the Pacific Islands, scenic NZ locations, Australia, the Caribbean, and various Greek and Mediterranean islands. 

In addition, Nielsen Ad Intel** data also shows that overall, the total amount spent on advertising in travel-related categories from August 2022 to July 2023 was an astounding $216,273,000, with Air New Zealand, Flight Centre, and Christchurch International topping the list of biggest advertisers. 

Advertising spend in the “Travel Agents” category alone increased sharply from $19 million (August 2021 to July 2022) to $51.9 million (August 2022 to July 2023) – a whopping 173% increase, year-on-year, with Flight Centre, Webjet, and House of Travel the top spenders in that category.

Curiously, of the Kiwis eyeing an Aussie adventure (965,000), around a quarter are ardent newspaper readers, showing a 9% greater propensity than the rest of the travelling population to read four or more newspapers weekly.

About Nielsen 

Nielsen shapes the world’s media and content as a global leader in audience measurement, data and analytics. Through our understanding of people and their behaviours across all channels and platforms, we empower our clients with independent and actionable intelligence so they can connect and engage with their audiences – now and into the future. Nielsen operates around the world in more than 55 countries. 

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Media Contact

Dan Chapman
Assoc. Director, Communications, Nielsen APAC
+61 404 088 462


*Source: Nielsen CMI, YE Q1 2023 data (Q2 2022 – Q1 2023) 
**Source: Nielsen Ad Intel (August 2021 to July 2022) and (August 2022 to July 2023)