It’s clear, New Zealanders believe travelling is one of THE most important things in life

05 March 2024 by Sue Hamilton

  • New Future of Travel research from Southern Cross Travel Insurance proves how much New Zealanders prize travel
  • More than half of all New Zealanders who plan to travel in the next 12 months consider travel to be one of the most important things when it comes to their discretionary spending, despite pressure on household budgets
  • New Zealanders who plan to travel in the next year are more likely than our Australian counterparts to prioritise travel over other discretionary spends at 51 per cent vs. 47 per cent
  • While Millennials are most likely to prioritise travel, Gen X, Gen Z and Baby Boomers are planning to head away for longer when it comes to overseas travel.

You know how it goes. You’re standing under the Brandenburg Gate, marvelling at the remains of the Acropolis, hiking the Inca Trail, or you’ve just popped up from a snorkel in Aitutaki and there’s your mate from uni, or Joan from number 51. We’ve always thought we’re a nation of avid travellers.

Now, Southern Cross Travel Insurance has the proof of just how much we prize getting away from it all (albeit not escaping our fellow NZ travellers!), with 51 per cent of New Zealanders with a plan to travel in the next 12 months saying travel remains a big deal in terms of our discretionary spend, regardless of how straitened our financial status might be.

In its third Future of Travel study of more than 1,000 New Zealanders, the Southern Cross team asked, “How do you currently prioritise travel amongst other discretionary spending options?”

“While we’ve been encouraged by strong sales results for our domestic and international insurance products as the traveller market has finally returned to pre-pandemic volumes in 2023, we wanted to dig deeper into how motivated New Zealanders are to travel in the future, so we can continue to meet their needs,” says Southern Cross Travel Insurance CEO, Jo McCauley.

McCauley says, “We were fascinated to see results from the study reveal that 51 per cent of New Zealanders planning to travel in the next 12 months consider travel to be a priority when it comes to discretionary spending. Of this group, we found that 16 per cent of New Zealanders say travel is more important than anything else, while a staunch nine per cent say it’s number one. Travel obviously has a huge pull on our lives and our wallets.

“The results also reflect an increased confidence in travel in the coming 12 months, compared to a year ago when we last surveyed New Zealand travellers. Three in five (61 per cent) plan to travel overseas in the next year, compared to 57 per cent last year,  with an average of 1.6 overseas trips planned within this period (compared to 2023 at 1.4 trips). At Southern Cross, we’re up for the challenge of supporting these travellers while they’re adventuring at home or overseas.

There was one other point which was interesting for the Southern Cross Travel Insurance  brand which supports customers in both New Zealand and Australia.

“While both nations have a powerful sense of wanderlust, when we asked those who plan to travel in the next 12 months the same question about prioritising travel over other discretionary spends, New Zealand pips our neighbours at the post (51 per cent vs. 47 per cent), although we are on a par when it comes to travel being at the very top of the list. Nearly one in 10 rate it their most important spend.”

Where are we going and how long are we away?

To understand where we’re travelling overseas, alongside the Future of Travel study the Southern Cross team also looked at the destinations New Zealand customers advised they were travelling to when purchasing a policy. Australia was the overwhelming favourite with Fiji, the USA, the UK, Singapore, and France coming in strong.

McCauley says, “It’s clear from our records that New Zealanders like to take advantage of warmer weather when travelling, whether that’s to popular destinations nearby like Australia, Fiji, and the Cook Islands, or as far afield as Europe.

“Out of interest we looked at policy sales for France to see if the Rugby World Cup had an impact on our customers’ travel plans, but even there, while our sales were strong over the tournament (Sep – Nov) it still seems New Zealanders would rather travel when it’s a little more toasty.”

McCauley also points to the length of time we are away.

“The Future of Travel insights correlate with behaviours that we have seen in our own policy sales. The average length of overseas trip was 14.6 days, which compares well to our own sales statistics where the majority of policies are for trips lasting from six to 20 days. 

“The study also highlighted some generational differences where Gen Z, Gen X and Baby Boomers on average plan to travel for longer on their next overseas trip compared to Millennials [1] (16.3, 14.8, 16.2 days compared to 12.8 days). Generally, we have to travel further than others around the world, so we like to make the most of our expenditure regardless of age, even if, as the research shows, travel is a huge priority for many New Zealanders.”

For more information from the third Southern Cross Future of Travel research project, please see here.

Notes for editors:

The Future of Travel study was conducted online between 5th – 9th January 2024. The sample comprised of a nationally representative sample of 1,023 New Zealanders aged 18 years and older.


[1] Gen Z (1997 - 2009)
Millennials (1981 - 1996)
Gen X (1965 - 1980)
Baby Boomer (1946 - 1964)
Silent (1945 and before)