Arrowtown and Wanaka – hidden gems of New Zealand

Last month I visited Arrowtown and Wanaka for the first time. All for work but it was hard to miss the amazing scenery and even in meetings, spectacular views were found from almost every office window.


Arrowtown is a charming riverside town steeped in gold mining history. Well-preserved cute cottages and overhanging shop fronts reminiscent of an old western town is the main drawcard but the best way to explore this area is to hire a bike from Arrowtown bike hire and discover both the town and surrounding nature at a leisurely pace.


arrowtown bike hire Read more…

Taupo – great for a quick winter family holiday

Do you ever have those moments where you realise you’re turning into your parents? When I was a lad, I remember holidays where we visited museums and learned things. As I took my kids around the National Trout Centre outside Taupo a couple of weeks ago it struck me that I was forcing the same sort of holiday on my kids: I am officially turning into my Dad. Here is a short summary of what I made my kids do on our recent break when I was heading there for a slow plod around the half marathon course.


We arrived at midday on a chilly but fine Saturday after an unsuccessful attempt to transplant the kids from their beds and into the car still asleep for a quiet car trip north. The iPad provided us with a welcome respite to questions, fights and general discontent from the two in the back. (I can highly recommend Read more…

Our guide to Auckland

Deals of the week   |   Secret Sale   |   My Shortlist

Hi everyone,

It’s on with the show in Auckland this winter. Why not treat yourself to a night out or a weekend away?

Dine at one of Metro magazine’s Top 50 Restaurants in Auckland, splurge at the city’s most stylish shopping districts, watch an All Blacks test match at Eden Park, or see the latest designer collections at New Zealand Fashion Week.

There’s plenty more on the events calendar too – catch a concert, discover the city’s buzzing arts scene or dress up for a night at the theatre.


Retail therapy

Update your winter wardrobe with a shopping spree at one – or more – of Auckland’s best shopping precincts.

Get to Britomart

Britomart is home to the flagship stores of many of New Zealand’s top designers, including Karen Walker, Trelise Cooper and WORLD, as well as up-and-comers. Get delicious health and beauty goodies from the likes of Bobbi Brown, M.A.C. and Jo Malone, find the perfect shoes or check out the city farmers’ market on Saturdays.

Check out Ponsonby

Browse the boutiques in Auckland’s hippest suburb. Ponsonby’s stylish shops offer everything from the latest fashion and accessories to upmarket homeware and interiors. Refuel afterwards with a coffee, chilled wine or lunch at one of the great cafés and restaurants lining Ponsonby Road.

Splurge in Parnell

Parnell village’s shops offer a range of high-end fashion, exquisite jewellery, leather handbags and gorgeous gifts. With a number of galleries, Parnell is also a great place to choose a unique piece of art to take home with you.

Shop in Newmarket

With so many shops, Newmarket covers every style, every age and every budget. Designer boutiques carrying the latest season’s collections and affordable fashion favourites combine in Newmarket. As well as fashion, you’ll find footwear, interiors, furniture, beauty products and much more.

Jeremy Corbett’s top 5

Find out what Kiwi comedian Jeremy Corbett loves about the place he calls home, from climbing volcanoes and exploring the islands in the Hauraki Gulf to the city’s fantastic cafés, restaurants and bars.

Read Jeremy’s top 5

Auckland is a true wine destination

What better way to spend a few hours than sipping on fine wine overlooking the vines? Boutique wineries and vineyards dot the beautiful landscapes of Auckland’s four wine regions, including Waiheke Island, New Zealand’s very own ‘island of wine’. Join a wine tour for group tastings or explore at your own pace and indulge in a long, lazy lunch.

Find out more

Metro Top 50 Auckland Restaurants

When it comes to dining in Auckland, you’re spoilt for choice. If you’re having trouble deciding where to go, take a look at Metro magazine’s Top 50 Restaurants in Auckland.There’s something for everyone, from five-star eateries to cosy cafés. Spanish tapas or succulent seafood, fancy or casual, city centre or wine country – this Top 50’s got them all.

Check out the Top 50

If you’re an Aucklander, hopefully this has inspired you to see more of your amazing region. If you’re not an Aucklander, you should check out the variety that our biggest city has to offer.

Whatever you do, stay warm and dry and we’ll catch you next month.


Daniel and the Travelbug team


Sign up to our weekly deals and monthly newsletter and you’ll go in the draw to win $500 Travelbug credit!

Sign up here!


Terms and Conditions:
This promotion is run by Trade Me Limited. To enter, you must opt in to receive Travelbug’s newsletters between 12:00am NZST 21 September and 11:59pm NZST 11 October 2015. You must be 18 years of age or over, and resident in New Zealand to be eligible to win. Employees of Trade Me may not enter. The winner will receive a unique code to access $NZ500 Travelbug credit for booking accommodation in New Zealand only. To redeem, the unique code must be entered at the point of purchase on the Travelbug website. The credit amount will be deducted from the total to pay, but can be used across multiple transactions if the credit amount exceeds the total to pay. The credit is valid for 12 months from the date of issue, after which any remaining credit is forfeit. The credit cannot be redeemed for cash and is not transferrable. The winner will be drawn at random and will be notified by email before 16 October 2015. If the winner does not respond to the email within 5 days, Trade Me will select another winner. Trade Me reserves the right to cancel or vary the promotion at any time without notice. Trade Me’s decisions in relation to the promotion are final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

Travelbug Super Sale on now!

Good news!

If you’re planning to travel anywhere in New Zealand between now and September, and want a great deal on your accommodation, you’re in luck.

Our Super Sale started today. Participating operators all around the country are offering up to 60% off accommodation if you book through Travelbug.

This offer ends at midnight on 18 May, so get in quick!

For more details, check out

Travelbug Super Sale Image

Travelbug Awards 2015 – Announcement

Hi folks,

It’s time to announce the annual Travelbug Awards. As they’re a little late this year, I’ll cut right to the chase – please join me in congratulating the team at IBIS Wellington who have taken out the top Platinum award!

And, in case you’re new to Travelbug, these Awards are one of the ways in which we recognise New Zealand accommodation operators who have done an outstanding job over the last 12 months in terms of number of bookings and the quality of their guest reviews.

So, well done to all of the operators who have won a Travelbug award this year and thank you to all of the Travelbug customers who placed a review. Your effort keeps other travelers well informed.

Read on for the full story…

Travelbug Awards 2015 – Press Release

Top result for IBIS Wellington

It was a close competition this year, but IBIS Wellington came up trumps, taking first place in the Trade Me Travelbug awards. This means that IBIS was rated higher by guests than any other commercial accommodation provider listed on Travelbug across the country.

“It’s an award to be hugely proud of, especially as it’s a competition between all of Travelbug’s listings nationwide”, says Trade Me’s Head of Travel, Daniel Bridges.

IBIS Wellington’s Hotel Manager, Colin McClean, said the news of the win was very well received and he’ll be celebrating with his team to congratulate them all on living up to the company’s values of always putting the customer first. “We’re absolutely delighted with this win and look forward to striving to win it again next year!” says Mr McClean.

Leith Valley Touring Park in Dunedin earned a Best in Region award this year, showing the increased quality and popularity of holiday parks.

It’s not all about luxury hotels

Like last year, we’ve seen a wide range of accommodation types do incredibly well in the Travelbug awards.

The Cambridge Hotel in Wellington deserves a special mention here. Famous for their free Kiwi BBQ on Wednesdays and a breakfast menu that features $3 eggs on toast, this heritage backpacker has won a Platinum award for the fourth year in a row!

“We’ve been in the business of providing excellent value for money for some time now and we love it. We have a lot of repeat guests so we know we have the right model of environment, service and value for money!” says The Cambridge Hotel’s General Manager Finnbarr Kerr-Newell.

Wellington takes the lead, again

For the second year running, Wellington has claimed more Platinum awards than any other region.

In the ‘Top Reviewed’ award category, properties in Canterbury and the Wairarapa gained the highest number of 100% ‘thumbs up’ ratings from their guests.

What travelers really want

The three things that we see consistently in reviews by travelers is that people place a high value the simple things – friendly staff, clean rooms and comfortable beds. This is across the board for all accommodation types. “As a member of the Tourism Industry Association of New Zealand, who are tasked with providing an amazing visitor experience as part of the Tourism 2025 framework, we’re really proud of the calibre of hotels, motels, lodges and backpackers that we have on our site and this year’s awards prove that the standard of accommodation that they’re providing is second to none”, says Trade Me’s Daniel Bridges.

The roll of honour

Total Travelbug winners in each category:

Platinum Property (14 winners)

Gold Property (72 winners)

Best in Region (18 winners)

Best in District (62 winners)

100% Guest Rating (267 winners)

Top 5 Travelbug Platinum winners:

Ibis Hotel, Wellington

High Street Living Motel, Picton

Aaron Court Motor Inn, Hamilton

Distinction Hotel, Palmerston North

Greerton Motor Inn, Tauranga

Travelbug Platinum Award winners:

Ibis Hotel, Wellington

High Street Living Motel, Picton

Aaron Court Motor Inn, Hamilton

Distinction Hotel, Palmerston North

Greerton Motor Inn, Tauranga

The Cambridge Hotel, Wellington

Novotel Queenstown Lakeside, Queenstown

Astelia Apartment Hotel, Wellington

Abel Tasman Stables Accommodation, Abel Tasman

Millennium Hotel, Rotorua

Wairakei Resort, Taupo

Quality Hotel Parnell, Auckland

Shoreline Motel, Napier

The Victoria Hotel, Dunedin

Travelbug ‘Best in Region’ award winners:

Leith Valley Touring Park, Dunedin

Copthorne Hotel and Resort Solway Park Wairarapa, Masterton

Central Park Motel, Whitianga

Parkside Lodge, Napier

Suncourt Hotel & Conference Centre, Taupo

Timandra Motel, New Plymouth

Abel Tasman Stables Accommodation, Abel Tasman

Leisure Inn, Rotorua

Novotel Queenstown Lakeside, Queenstown

Ossies Motels and Chalets, Ohakune

Heritage Highway Motel, Hokitika

Greerton Motor Inn, Tauranga

Mediterranean Motel, Kaikoura

Distinction Hotel, Palmerston North

Aaron Court Motor Inn, Hamilton

High Street Living Motel, Picton

The Thorndon Hotel Wellington – by Rydges, Wellington

Oakwood Manor, Auckland Airport


Contact: Head of Trade Me Travel, Daniel Bridges, Email,
Ph. 021 896 186

About Travelbug:

Travelbug is part of Trade Me. We provide an easy way for Kiwis to book accommodation throughout New Zealand. For the largest number of hotels, motels and more, local support from a Wellington based team, and a website that lets you compare prices over 10 days, visit

The annual Travelbug Awards have been running for five years and are highly regarded in the industry. There are five award categories and to win an award, a property needs to have met criteria for booking numbers, number of reviews placed and quality of reviews.

Travelbug Awards Image

Travelbug and BookIt first to accept China Union Pay online in NZ

New Zealand tourism operators can now be better prepared for the growing number of Chinese tourists as Trade Me’s booking engine, BookIt, on Thursday becomes the first local online booking engine to accept payment via China Union Pay cards.

China Union Pay is the leading card scheme in China, with more than 3.1 billion cards in circulation. Nine out of every ten credit cards issued in China is Union Pay branded.

Union Pay

Read more…

Cricket, dodgy decisions and fake travel reviews

There are two things that confuse me at the moment: why the Indian cricket team still don’t allow the decision review system (DRS) and why sites like Trip Advisor still allow unverified reviews. Both are examples of not using systems that exist to make things better for everyone. An unusual subject link, but bear with me.

Twelve months out from the 2015 Cricket World Cup, and with India touring New Zealand at the moment, I recently watched the highlights of NZ’s glorious victory over Australia at Eden Park at the 1992 World Cup. As I watched, I was taken aback at some of the poor decisions the players had to put up with. The most glaring examples were a dodgy LBW decision and a run out that I’m sure would these days be adjudged “not out” by the third umpire. here you see Dean Jones just making his ground before Ian Smith smashed the stumps:

Out or not? Hard to say with no third umpire...

Out or not? Hard to say with no third umpire…


Read more…

Travelbug Awards 2014 – and the winners are….

It’s that time again, time to announce the winners of the Travelbug Awards for another year. If you’re new to the world of Travelbug, it’s worth me taking some time to tell you why they matter. If you’re not new, then please feel free to skip down the page to the media release that details the winners. Spoiler alert – SKYCITY Auckland won the premium award. Read more…