Discover Travel update (21 June’21)


    Brrr. It’s mid-winter! Time to book that escape to the Cook Islands or Australia

    The shortest day has arrived, so now’s the time to book 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, particularly if Australia joins the Cook Islands bubble soon.

    COOK ISLANDS

    The first completely sold-out quarantine-free Air NZ Dreamliner flight to Rarotonga departed on 18 May so we’ve now had over a month with a Cook Islands Bubble without any issues. It’s forecast to be as high as 24C all this week in the Cook Islands , and after a 15 month hiatus and a ‘soft reopening’ the Cook Islanders are gearing up for a much greater influx of visitors from July onwards and are welcoming visitors with open arms.

    Many of our clients have either planned or enjoyed their escape already and the feedback from recently returned clients has been great. 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 and eating 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 deals prepared by our colleagues at House of Travel, highlighting some attractive accommodation offers.

    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.

    AUSTRALIA

    It’s been 8 weeks since the start of the two-way quarantine-free Trans-Tasman bubble, and despite a couple of short pauses to different states has been 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.

    DO YOU HAVE A TRAVEL CREDIT TO REDEEM?

    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.

    DOMESTIC NZ TOURING

    We’re enjoying exploring what’s new for travellers here in New Zealand.

    The Southern Lights by Flight tours from Christchurch on 11 & 12 September have again proven very popular, but there are still a few spaces left in economy class.

    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. There’s now very limited space left, so please contact us asap if you’re interested. The Explorer then heads to the Hauraki Gulf for 2 voyages in January and 1 in March 2022.

    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. Check out this Southern Beauty tour departing either 12-20 September or 19-27 October, the Southern Odyssey tour departing on 2-8 October, a Doubtful Sound & West Coast Odyssey on 17-23 Oct or 12-18 November, the East Coast Caper from 9-14 October or the Bridge to Nowhere and Forgotten Worlds tour departing on either 5-11 October or 27 October to 2 November.

    Keen on something different – how about a Taranaki Gardens tour in October?

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

    TRAVEL INSURANCE

    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

    DISCOVER WITH US – OUR ESCORTED TOURS

    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.

    REFUNDS AND CREDITS FOR DEFERRED TRIPS

    Over the last 15 months, the Discover Travel team has been busy with the mammoth task of repatriating millions of dollars of refund applications from airlines and other overseas suppliers. That work continues, but is now over 99% complete. We currently have only 12 applications worth $36k 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, we are also managing 380 different travel credits 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. Most 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.

    OUR TEAM

    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 with all adults expecting to be fully vaccinated by the end of 2021. The UK & USA have demonstrated that mass vaccinations can happen quickly and they are now busy booking their holidays. With the majority of airlines including Air NZ, Qantas and Singapore Airlines now trialling vaccination ‘pass’ apps, a framework certainly looks in place for a return to more normal travel into 2022.

    Happy travels,
    Ian & Peter