Discover Travel update (31 March’21)

    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!

    Small Ship Cruising in the Marlborough Sounds and Fiordland this year

    We love the newly refurbished 30m yacht ‘Heritage Explorer’ and the three 6 night Marlborough Sounds voyages she’ll be undertaking this April and May. and this longer 8 night voyage on 30 May.

    The Explorer then heads to 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 Stewart Island (April & May)  Southern Fiordland (Sep & Nov), Dusky Sound (Oct) and even two epic 13 night Fiordand 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.

    The Chatham Islands

    There’s still one room left on this fabulous week long Chatham Islands package departing Christchurch 11 May. The Chatham’s season then resumes next summer with departures from October.

    Touring New Zealand

    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!

    How about something truly unique – an air safari from Christchurch by DC3 in April

    Fancy something more active – cycling, tramping or kayaking? What about cycling the Otago Rail Trail, kayaking the Abel Tasman, or a guided tramp in Fiordland & Stewart Island?

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

    A reminder – you can use your Discover Travel Credit in New Zealand

    Many of our clients have travel credits that are with Air NZ or with a particular travel company like Intrepid, G Adventures, Trafalgar & insight or World Expeditions.

    While we are waiting for news of our Border opening to Australia & the Pacific, we’d be pleased to help you use these supplier credits for New Zealand Domestic travel.

    If you have a non-specific travel credit with Discover Travel, we’re now delighted to invite our clients to use these on a pro-rata basis for your Domestic NZ travel. (For example a $500 credit can be put towards $5000 worth of Domestic travel.

    Please e-mail or call us to check your options for using your credits.

    Cook Islands & Australia One-Way Travel Bubbles

    We’re excited to hear that the much anticipated two-way Trans-Tasman bubble with Australia is nearly here. We’ve been hearing from many clients that they are anxious to get across the ‘ditch’ to finally be reunited with family and friends or to escape the coldest months of our winter, and the Aussies have been happy to welcome us for months now, so it was great to hear that the opening date will be announced by Govt on 6 April. In the meantime, we’ve been busy checking availability in 2021 of our favourite journeys in Australia – have a look here.

    We were pleased to hear the NZ Govt’s intention to open a two-way quarantine free travel bubble with the Cook Islands in May 2021, and invite you to get in touch with us now to plan your dream trip to this Pacific paradise whilst we continue to await Govt details of the exact date for the opening.

    Travel insurance during Covid-19

    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

    Flying to or from Europe during Covid-19

    We’re helping our clients looking to travel to or back from the UK and Europe, mostly to visit friends or relatives or to return home. This seems relatively simple at first glance, as a small number of airlines are now flying regularly from Auckland to Europe, including Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Qatar Airlines with one-way fares as low as $1450 ex Auckland.

    The only carrier flying directly out of Christchurch is Singapore Airlines every Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday, with connections onto London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt & Zurich.

    ‘Travel corridors’ into the UK were suspended on 18 January 2021. You now need to self-isolate on arrival for 10 days and you must have proof of a negative coronavirus test to travel to England.

    Travellers arriving into New Zealand – MIQ 

    All passengers arriving into New Zealand are required to register their Managed Isolation requirements prior to departure and be in receipt of a Managed Isolation Allocation System (MIAS) Voucher at check-in. It’s worth checking registering and checking availability before making plans, as space is very limited, although June 2021 MIQ dates are now open. For more information and to register, check out the Managed Isolation Allocation System website. 

    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.

    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 will be 16-30 June 2022 and his ‘Timeless Turkey’ tour will be 7-25 Sep 2022.

    Highlands & Highlights of Ethiopia with Sue Verrall will probably be 15 Sep-12 Oct 2022 (dates to be confirmed shortly).

    Our 2021 Silk Road tour will be moved to 2023.

    We’re here, working for you – refunds and credits

    The Discover Travel team has nearly completed the mammoth task of chasing refunds from airlines and other overseas suppliers. As of 31 March ’21, over $3.5m worth of refunds have been secured and we currently have only 7 refunds left to chase on your behalf.

    In addition, a small number of other suppliers have not yet begun to process refunds, being Croisi river cruises, Aeroflot, South African Airlines & Kenyan Airlines, but our (now fewer than 15) refund 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.

    We are also managing approximately 400 different travel credits on your behalf with a myriad of airlines, tour operators, insurers and hotels. 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.

    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 9-3 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 and Israel are demonstrating that mass vaccinations can happen fairly 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 by late 2021 and into 2022.

    Happy travels,
    Ian & Peter