Discover Travel update (2 June’21)

    Brrr. Winter is here – time to book that escape to the Cook Islands or Australia

    At the time of writing, we’re experiencing a chilly 6C and hail in central Christchurch, so now’s the perfect time to get organised for that winter escape to much warmer climes!

    Whilst travel to Australia or the Cooks doesn’t require a vaccination and is quarantine-free, we know that some of our clients are waiting for their Covid jabs, but are in a category where they can expect to be vaccinated soon.

    We’d encourage everyone to book well ahead to avoid disappointment.


    The first completely sold-out quarantine-free Air NZ Dreamliner flight to Rarotonga departed on 18 May. It’s forecast to be as high as 27C all this week in the Cook Islands , and after a 15 month hiatus, the Cook Islanders will certainly welcome you with open arms.

    Many of our clients have booked their escape already, but if you’ve not, we’d recommend getting in touch with us as soon as possible. There’s limited accommodation in this beautiful Pacific paradise and our Auckland friends haven’t wasted any time in getting organised, so time is very much of the essence for Mainlanders before it’s booked out, especially if you are considering Aitutaki as well as Rarotonga. The 10-25 July school holidays are heavily booked already, so best avoided if possible.

    The Cook Islands doesn’t do big, impersonal resorts; rather this is the home of friendly, family owned and operated accommodation options. We’d be delighted to book hotels, villas and even private holiday homes for you.

    Have a look at the most recent e-brochure here

    And here’s a short Cook Islands tourism video to whet your appetite.

    Check out the latest Cook Islands flyer prepared by our colleagues at House of Travel, highlighting some attractive accommodation deals

    We can usually hold Air NZ flights for you for up to a week and in many cases, accommodation too, giving us time to plan your perfect island escape.


    It’s been 6 weeks since the start of the two-way quarantine-free Trans-Tasman bubble, and despite a couple of short pauses to different states, appears to be operating pretty smoothly.

    To date, the majority of travellers seem to have been Kiwis in Australia returning home to visit family, but we’re now seeing increased demand from clients keen to escape some of the NZ winter and head to warmer climes such as Queensland and the Northern Territory for a holiday or to visit family and friends.

    Again, please don’t delay if you are keen on an Aussie holiday this winter – Australians have been enjoying fantastic domestic airfare sales and like us, are busy exploring their (much larger) “backyard”, so popular holiday destinations like Port Douglas (currently 27C) and Noosa (currently 22C) are heavily booked in July and August. We’ll find you a place to stay and a ‘hidden Australia’ to explore. Check out some ideas here.


    Many of our clients have travel credits to redeem with Air New Zealand, Qantas or a generic travel credit with Discover Travel from travel that was cancelled or deferred in 2020. Some have credits with tour operators such as Globus, Trafalgar, Scenic, APT or Intrepid. We’d be pleased to help you redeem these credits for a Cook Islands or Australia trip this year on a pro-rata basis. For example a $500 credit can be put towards $5000 worth of International or Domestic travel.


    We’re enjoying exploring what’s new for travellers here in New Zealand, with two new small ship cruise options available from as soon as next month!

    We love the newly refurbished 30m yacht ‘Heritage Explorer’ which will be in Fiordland for the winter, with 4 different itineraries on offer ranging from 4-9 nights between July & November 2021 including 7 voyages in the Southern Fiords.

    We’ve also had a look around the impressive 4 cabin motor cruiser Strannik which is offering Southern Fiordland (Sep & Nov), Dusky Sound (Oct) and even two epic 13 night Fiordland expeditions in August. There’s also the opportunity to charter the whole vessel – which would be ideal for a family or a small group of friends.

    Small group tours of NZ continue to be very popular, with many including most meals and offering low single supplements, so ideal for couple and solo travellers alike. Popular options over our winter include Great Barrier Island, the Coromandel, Taranaki and Northland. There’s even a mid-winter Xmas tour!

    Check out the entire selection here and be surprised by what Aoteoroa has to offer.


    There’s been much discussion as to what insurance cover you might have when travelling to Australia during the pandemic, so we’ve summarised this here


    We are now finishing the process of rebooking our Escorted Tours that were originally due to depart in 2020 to new dates in 2022.

    Peter is escorting this Northland Discovery small group tour from 12-19 September 2021.

    Our signature ‘Dunes and Delta Discovery‘ tour of Namibia & Botswana with Sue Verrall is now 4-28 June 2022.

    Ian’s ‘In Search of the Polar Bear’ Spitsbergen dates are now 31 May – 10 June 2022.

    Peter’s ‘Back to the USSR’ – Russia & Baltics is now 16-30 June 2022 and his ‘Timeless Turkey’ tour is 7-25 Sep 2022.

    Highlands & Highlights of Ethiopia with Sue Verrall is now 15 Sep-12 Oct 2022.

    Our 2021 Silk Road tour will be moved to 2023.


    Over the last 15 months, the Discover Travel team has nearly completed the mammoth task of chasing refunds from airlines and other overseas suppliers and this is now 99% done. As of 2 June  ’21, $2.9m worth of refunds have been secured and a further $1.1m worth of travel successfully rebooked and we currently have only $42k worth of refunds left to chase on your behalf. Of these, only Croisi river cruises & South African Airlines have not yet begun to process refunds, but our requests remain in their queues for when they begin.

    We’d like to thank you for your support, patience and appreciation whilst we continue to work tirelessly on your behalf.

    In addition, are also managing nearly 400 different travel credits worth over $1.1m on your behalf with a myriad of airlines, tour operators and other travel providers. We look forward to helping you redeem these credits either for Domestic travel or when our Borders re-open to the world and we can get back to exploring. Many suppliers have now extended the validity of these credits to include travel in 2022 or even 2023 as well as 2021, but as each has different re book-by & travel-by dates, please contact us if you have any queries about your credits.

    Air NZ credits now just have to be rebooked by 30 June 2022 for travel by 30 June 2023. Qantas just require tickets rebooked by 31 Dec 2021 for travel completed by 31 Dec 2022. Singapore Airlines & Emirates tickets currently held in credit have to have travel completed by the end of 2021 (or 760 days from date of issue in the case of Emirates), so we are recommending these be submitted for a refund if unlikely to be used this year.


    With the NZ border closed to quarantine-free travel, our Sales team’s workload is obviously much lighter than usual, so Juliet, Linda and Janine are still enjoying their sabbaticals  but don’t worry – they’ll be asked to return once our normal trading conditions resume!

    Whilst they are away, Discover Travel remains very much open for business helping Kiwis discover their “backyard”.. If you have any queries about your existing booking or wish to make a new booking, please simply e-mail or call us as normal. Ian & Peter are in the office from 9-4 Mon-Fri and will look after your enquiry and respond promptly.

    We’d like to thank all our clients for their unwavering support and kindness during this most challenging and unusual time for the Travel industry. We’re pleased to see that NZ now has a timetable for a comprehensive vaccination rollout in 2021. The UK & USA are demonstrating that mass vaccinations can happen fairly and a return to normal can happen quickly, and with Air NZ, Qantas and Singapore Airlines all now trialling vaccination ‘pass’ apps, a framework certainly looks in place for a return to more normal travel into 2022.

    Happy travels,
    Ian & Peter