Can New Zealanders travel to Japan? Yes, and they’re booking trips in record numbers

The most popular was Furano in Hokkaido, followed by Tokyo spots Shinjuku City, Shibuya City and Taito City.

As for what Kiwis are keen to do in Japan, Watson said skiing seemed top of mind.

“We recorded a 65% increase in bookings for the Japan ski season this year, November to March, compared to previous years,” she said. This is no surprise given Japan’s reputation for consistently light and powdery snow.

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When New Zealand's ski season bows out, Japan's is just kicking off. Photo / 123rf
When New Zealand’s ski season bows out, Japan’s is just kicking off. Photo / 123rf

Cruise trips were also proving popular, with a 121% increase in Asia cruise bookings, largely driven by demand for Japan, according to Jeff Leckey, House of Travel’s general manager cruise for Australasia.

“From a cruise perspective the growth is being driven by Japan, with many customers choosing immersive itineraries that take in the best of the country,” said Leckey, adding that the Mekong River was an especially popular cruise destination.

Air New Zealand has noted its popularity. This month the company announced it was adding 30,000 more seats on its Auckland-Tokyo route.

Bali continues to rise in popularity

This doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten our old favourites. Bookings to Bali so far this year are 59% higher than in the first six months of 2023, thanks to cheaper airfares and more flights.

Following Air New Zealand’s surprise announcement, getting to the Indonesia holiday spot has only gotten easier.

Thailand trails in third, not because it’s any less worth visiting, Watson explains, but simply because it’s a little trickier to reach.

“We still don’t have Thai Airways flying back into New Zealand, making Bali a more accessible destination for Kiwis looking to travel and vacation compared to Thailand,” he said.

Visiting Japan? Here’s what to know

If you’re one of the many Kiwis making it over to Japan, the Herald has all you need to plan the perfect trip.

Firstly, etiquette is everything in Japan, so learn from this journalist’s 10 mistakes and read the tips every traveller should know.

Next, prepare to be spoiled by some of the best railways in the world. Japan’s trains are the best way to get around the country if you understand how they work.

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Tokyo is a must-visit for many and typically the place you’ll fly into. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, so we’ve got the 10 things you shouldn’t leave Tokyo without doing.

Whether you tick off the above or are eager to escape the gigantic metropolis, jump on a train and go to these nearby spots or check out the underrated regions locals love.


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