3 New York must-see attractions

Start spreading the news: nine days isn’t a long time and if you’re in one of the world’s best cities its barely enough time to scratch the surface. About a month ago I packed my bags and left behind shaky, miserable wintry Wellington for the bustling streets of Manhattan in New York City. Those nine days are almost a blur, I packed in as many attractions as I could but didn’t get close to seeing and doing everything that I wanted to do let alone everything that New York City has to offer. I highly recommend taking as much time as possible if you’re planning on going but here are three attractions that no matter how short your stay you must check out.


Metropolitan Museum of Art

Golden archer lady has good technique at the MET

Read more…

Secret deals & seasonal savings at YHA properties

Deals of the week   |   Secret Sale   |   My Shortlist


Travelbug August newsletter


Spring is around the corner, and we have some super sharp deals on offer to celebrate. None better than 20% off two-night stays this spring at 24 YHA properties.

You still have a few days to make the most of our secret sale deals this month, including a 5-star Rotorua hotel from $93. And our friends at Thrillseekers Hanmer Springs are offering 10% off their tours if booked online.

We also have sweet deals around some of this year’s biggest concerts and festivals. Have a great week ahead!

Check out this week’s sweet deals





Save 20% at 24 YHA properties this spring

YHA Arthurs Pass

YHA Hole in the Rock

YHA Logo

Think YHA is just dorm rooms for international backpackers? Think again!

With over a quarter of all YHA rooms in the country having an ensuite, the YHA network offer a great alternative to motels and hotels with the benefit of sweet facilities like full kitchens, library exchanges and BBQ’s in some of the most scenic spots nationwide.

Travelbug is delighted to team up with YHA this spring to bring the best rates to Travelbug users. Simply book a two-night stay and save 20% off the rate at one of 24 properties. Just enter YHA20 in the discount code box when booking and save for all stays from 1 September – 20 October 2013.

Save 20% at 24 YHA properties




Got your concert tickets? Then nab a sweet room deal!

There are some amazing concerts taking place over the next six months, whether you have ‘Bieber Fever’ (team Travelbug are a tad old for this one), are a huge fan of ‘The Boss’, or are super excited about the return of the Big Day Out to NZ. Getting the ticket is one thing, but getting an accommodation deal you can be smug about is another. Get in quick before the prices close to the venues rise big time in the weeks ahead.

Justin Bieber, 23-24 Nov, Auckland
Fleetwood Mac, 4-7 Dec, Auckland
Leonard Cohen, 17-18 Dec, Wellington
Big Day Out, 17 Jan, Auckland
Bruce Springsteen, 1 March, Auckland




Secret hotel sale! Get in quick – deals end 31 August

Wellington – $89

4-star hotel

Paihia – $75

3.5-star hotel

Auckland – $115

4.5-star hotel

Rotorua – $93

5-star hotel





Featured activity – Thrillseekers Adventures, Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs thermal pools are world renowned and Kiwis love them too, but the region is home to lots more than just relaxing mineral pools. Thrillseekers Adventures offer a dose of adrenaline with a bungy, jetboating, rafting, quad biking, shooting and paintball – the perfect way to mix things up with all that relaxing. Book any of their activities online and save a further 10%.

See Thrillseekers Adventures

Thrillseekers Adventures



Travel stories from around the globe

We are a friendly bunch it seems, with three NZ cities voted amongst the 20 friendliest cities according to Conde Nast Traveler. Queenstown even snuck into the top five! Kiwis also voted Mitre Peak in the Milford Sound as one of the top ten landmarks worldwide.
Te Papa made Lonely Planet’s list as one of the ten finest freebies throughout the globe. Go New Zealand!

The world’s finest freebies
The world’s friendliest & unfriendliest cities
Take a chance on the ABBA Museum
How to avoid the latest travel scams
Top 10 landmarks as voted by Kiwis

The world's finest freebies



Exclusive Hollyford Track walk – from $1 reserve!

Image hollyford
Hollyford Track have teamed up with Trade Me Cool Auctions to offer the opportunity to bid on an exclusive departure on the world famous Hollyford Track for you and up to 15 of your friends! This includes accommodation, gourmet meals, helicopter, coach and jetboat transfers from Queenstown.

With a RRP value of over $28,000 this is an amazing opportunity. Available dates are 9 or 27 of November, or 1 or 13 December in 2013.

Check out the auction on Trade Me





Queenstown comes up trumps

Image Queenstown
Thanks to the 8,000 Kiwis who entered our Travelbug survey last month. We had some interesting results through, which we’ve compiled in a handy wee blog post. Queenstown topped the poll for the favourite NZ spot to travel to over winter, with Coromandel coming in second.

Results show a 45% jump in the number of Kiwis who want internet included in accommodation room rates, versus last year’s survey.
Congrats to Donna S from the Hutt Valley who won the iPad mini!

See this year’s survey results





Make a weekend of it in the Waikato this spring

Head to the Waikato during August and September, and make a weekend of it with great events such as All Blacks vs Argentina, Gallagher Great Race, Country Music Awards, Fringe Festival and Stan Walker.

Check out all the events on offer, plus accommodation, dining and activity deals at the official Hamilton Waikato Tourism site.

Check out Hamilton Waikato Tourism

Image waikato




That’s all from us in August – have a great week ahead and stay tuned for some sweet September deals, including a few birthday exclusives, care of the team at Travelbug.

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New Zealand Destinations

International Destinations





Bay of Plenty






Lake Taupo


New Plymouth

Hawke’s Bay




Palmerston North







West Coast



Hanmer Springs




Lake Wanaka





Hong Kong




Fiji (Nadi)





Gold Coast










New York


San Francisco

Los Angeles



Las Vegas


© 2013 Trade Me Ltd   |   Contact us

Queenstown and internet top the wishlist for Kiwis

Hi Travelbuggers,

We’ve just finished tallying the results of the Travelbug and Holiday Houses survey that we conducted in July that over 8,000 travel-mad Kiwis completed. The results are in and once again Queenstown tops the list as the most preferred next destination, but more on that later.


The more interesting result is the growing demand for cheap internet at paid accommodation with Kiwis demanding low-cost connectivity more than ever. The survey results show a 45% jump in the number of Kiwis who want internet included in accommodation room rates versus last year’s survey, and 59% state that internet is at least somewhat important in choosing where to stay.


Read more…

Travelbug Awards 2013 – here are your winners!

It’s that time again, time to announce the winners of this year’s Travelbug Awards! This is the third time we’ve given out these awards and we’re always stoked to be able to recognise excellent performance by accommodation operators. The the winners were selected based on the number of bookings made at each property, the quality of guest feedback, and the overall quality of their Travelbug listing and this year we had to make the criteria even tougher to make sure we only awarded the very best.

As you’ll know, we have the widest range of bookable accommodation in New Zealand and all properties – from holiday parks and backpackers to luxury lodges – are automatically eligible for the awards. There are five categories in the Travelbug Awards:

awards group Read more…

Kiwis vote Coromandel #1 summer destination

A summer holiday somewhere on the Coromandel with breakfast and parking included is what most travellers want this summer. Coromandel took the number one summer Kiwi holiday spot, with Northland and Nelson / Tasman nabbing second and third.

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel

Our favourite summer spots were all spots with water, sunshine and space – all things coveted by Kiwis in the warmer months.

Coromandel came up trumps – as the favourite spot of Kiwis throughout the North Island (except those in Auckland and Northland). Northland was the preferred spot for Aucklander’s and picked up the 2nd spot on the podium, followed by Nelson / Tasman which was the preferred summer getaway of those in the South Island. Bay of Plenty picked up 4th, with Central Otago / Wanaka and Queenstown tied for 5th.

Across the ditch, Queensland picked up top spot for summer travel. Sun, theme parks and family and friends were the big reasons the Sunshine State came trumps, receiving double the votes of Victoria and New South Wales who rounded out the top three.

Surfers Paradise beach, Queensland, Australia

On average Travelbug respondents will spend 8 nights away from their home time this December and January.

In terms of where we are staying this summer, 45% of us will be staying with friends and family at some point, Nearly a third of Kiwis will spend a couple of nights in a holiday home. Motels are the next most poplar type of accommodation us Kiwis will be using, followed by hotels and then holiday parks.
Breaking it down, people under 30 are most likely to book a hotel this summer, people over 50 are keenest on motels, and those with kids at home will be hitting the holiday parks.
Kiwi’s are most likely to want breakfast included in their room rate, followed closely behind by free parking, over half of respondents also have a soft spot for a late checkout thrown into the mix. People from the big smoke (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin) prefer breakfast as an add-on, while those from smaller centres (Northland, Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu, and Bay of Plenty) prefer parking.

Unsurprisingly we vote with our wallets, price is the biggest factor for making a booking, though the location of the property, imagery, word of mouth feedback and inclusions like Wifi and parking are also really influential.

Family occasions were the most popular reason for peoples’ last accommodation bookings, the need to recharge batteries and a romantic break were the 2nd and 3rd most common reason for peoples bookings.

It turns out we are not very loyal here in NZ, with only 1 in 11 of us loyal to a particular hotel or motel chain, but if we have a good experience at a property than over 60% of us will return there rather than trying something new in the same town or city.
Nearly 15% of us always leave reviews on properties, and over half of respondents will leave a review only if they had really good or really bad service. 36% of people always read online reviews before booking; 55% do if the reviews are easy to spot; and 9% don’t read them at all.

And finally, for the heavy hitting question, people prefer peppermint chocolates on their pillows over plain chocolates, but only just: 52% vs 48%..

The nitty gritty…

Where in NZ would you most like to spend your summer break?
Rank    Region                                     Vote (%)

1.         Coromandel                            18.4
2.         Northland                                14.3
3.         Nelson/Tasman                       12.1
4.         Bay of Plenty                           8.6
5=        Central Otago/Wanaka           6.3
5=        Queenstown                            6.3

Which Australian state would you most like to spend a long weekend in?
Rank    State                                       Vote (%)

1.         Queensland                            43.5
2.         Victoria                                    22.5
3.         New South Wales                  19.9
4.         Western Australia                   8.5
5.         Tasmania                                7.6

What add-ons do you like with your room?
Rank    Item                                        Vote (%)

1.         Breakfast                                 68
2.         Parking                                    63
3.         Late check-out                        51
4.         Internet                                    38
5.         Dinner                                     26


Eating out – hidden treasures of Auckland

I’m not sure if these places are well known to Aucklanders or not, but as an out of towner there are a few things I always recommend to people travelling to New Zealand’s biggest city.

Most recently I stayed in Parnell and I was impressed at the number of choices along Parnell Road for brunch, lunch and dinner. Verve Café does a generous $10 special menu consisting of mini versions of some of their most popular dishes as well as brunch favourites like pancakes and bacon and eggs.

The Chocolate Boutique is a must for anyone with a sweet tooth. I was originally drawn to the divine Italian denso hot chocolate they serve, it’s like drinking melted chocolate. Their selection of fresh, handmade chocolates is extensive (I particularly recommend the hazelnut praline cones) and the menu of drinks is both delicious and varied. As long as you like chocolate, anyway. The cafe has a number of seats out on the brick patio as well, so on a muggy Auckland day you can enjoy chocolatey goodness in the fresh air.

Chocolate Boutique amazing chcolatey goodness

Chocolate Boutique – amazing chcolatey goodness

If you’re staying right in town there’s a couple of places I’ve really enjoyed around the CBD as well. Vulcan Lane down the Britomart end of Queen St has a wealth of places to eat and I definitely recommend checking it out.

You can’t beat a Belgian pub for waffles and the Occidental is a great example right in the heart of town at the Queen St end of Vulcan Lane. The waffles were perfectly cooked and generous servings mean you leave satisfied – or stuffed!

Waffles from the Occidental

Waffles. That is all.

If you’re looking for somewhere that’s a tapas restaurant by night and an excellent breakfast place in the morning, then I have just the place for you. I’ve been to Tasca a number of times and it has never disappointed. The breakfasts are generously portioned and tasty and along with exotic dishes like Piperada and Moorish eggs they serve my personal favourite pancakes with bacon and banana, made extra delicious with added berries.

Tanuki’s Cave is a little yakitori bar downstairs from the Tanuki Japanese restaurant on Upper Queen St. They have Asahi on tap, a huge range of sake and some of the best Japanese barbeque around. They don’t take reservations so you need to time it just right, but it’s well worth the effort. The atmosphere is friendly and easy going and the food delicious. My personal favourites are the takoyaki (deep fried balls of octopus), whole garlic clove skewers barbecued to perfection and anything which includes beef sirloin.

Takoyaki from Tanuki's Cave

Auckland has a huge range of excellent food and I’ve just barely scratched the surface myself, but I can recommend these places wholeheartedly if you’re after something delicious and maybe just a bit different.

Las Vegas part two – a hotel geek’s paradise

During my stay in Vegas I both loved and hated the Cosmopolitan hotel: it was hell and it was heaven. But more on that later.

I stayed in 5 hotels in my 8-night trip and that means I’ve now stayed in 8 Vegas hotels. Yes, I’m a hotel geek and and I love the whole hotel experience. When I enter a room I look in every cupboard, every drawer, scrutinise the toiletries (oh, they’re white-labelling L’Occitane…) and the shoe shine mitts and sometimes I have even found myself pacing the room to check the dimensions. I make no apologies for this affliction. Las Vegas, for such a hotel geek, is paradise, with over 350 hotels and 150,000 rooms. I chose to stay in more places than I needed to just so I could see the inside of more rooms at more hotels. Read more…

Las Vegas Part one – a week in the dessert

There are times in your life when you need to forget about the consequences and let yourself go. A couple of months ago, I headed to Las Vegas and did just that, and loosened the waistband of my pants a little while I was at it.

Vegas has changed a lot over the years and its latest self-reinvention is as a foodie’s paradise, a gourmet oasis in the middle of the barren deserts that surround this odd town. While I did enjoy some very tasty food, what seemed to take me most were the sweet treats, so this first post from my time in Vegas is about the five sugary episodes that stood out most to me.  In no particular order: Read more…

Travelbug milestones and a sneak peak

In two weeks Travelbug will celebrate its 5th birthday (yay!) and it seemed a good time to look at some of the recent milestones and give you a wee look at some of the stuff that is going on behind the scenes here at Travelbug HQ.

Since we launched on our new booking engine, we’ve already helped travellers book 100,000 nights at NZ properties. That’s your average motel filled over 6,000 times or filled every night for 18 years!

One of the things we value at Trade Me is innovation and finding new ways of doing things. Here in Travelbug land we’ve added some innovative channels over the years so here are the biggies.  Read more…

The Travelbug office gets a slide

You know how you can sometimes tell when the writers of your favourite TV show simply have an off day and look for an easy way out? They’ll write an episode that takes the cast to Hawaii for a holiday, or do a musical or even worse a flashback show. Sometimes when you write a blog you have days like that, and when you do you turn to “behind-the-scenes” glimpses and YouTube videos. This blog post shows you what’s happening with the new Travelbug office and gives one more example of why Palmerston North is awesome. Read more…