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South Pacific dreaming: Kiwis choose Cook Islands over Fiji

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), January 2001 – May 2013 (n = 109,703); Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), June 2012 – May 2013 (n=12,092)
As winter digs its chilly heels in, it’s only natural that some of us are suddenly dreaming of sun-drenched, tropical beach paradises. With its relative proximity to iconic islands like Fiji and Tonga, New Zealand is a logical jumping-off point for a South Pacific escape — and many Kiwis take full advantage of this. But over the last few years, there’ve been some interesting shifts in their preferred destinations…

In the year to May 2006, 78,000 New Zealanders — or 3.1% of all Kiwis who took an overseas holiday during that period — went to Fiji; more than to any other South Pacific island. However, after the military coup that took place there in late 2006, visitor numbers started declining. In the year to May 2013, just 1.8% of Kiwis who holidayed overseas chose to go to Fiji.

As Fiji’s star waned, that of the Cook Islands rose, with 2.3% of New Zealanders who travelled overseas taking a holiday there in the year to May 2013, up from 1.5% in May 2006 — resulting in the Cook Islands overtaking Fiji as the most popular South Pacific destination.

New Zealanders who travelled overseas to South Pacific islands in last 12 months


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), January 2001 – May 2013 (n = 109,703).

Selling the South Pacific to the New Zealand market

New Zealand has long been a popular target market for tourism organisations from South Pacific islands, with Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands being among the travel destinations with the highest rate of advertising recall among Kiwis.

No less than 42.9% of New Zealanders recall having read, seen or heard something on travel or tourism in Fiji over the last 12 months – second only to Australia (55.3%). Yet this hasn’t boosted visitor numbers to the troubled island nation, whereas the Cook Islands’ tourist numbers are high for their comparatively low 19.4% advertising recall rate.

New Zealand Top 10 advertising recall for overseas countries on holidays and travel


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), June 2012 – May 2013 (n=12,092)

Pip Elliott, General Manager, Roy Morgan Research NZ, says:

“Since 2006’s military coup, Fiji’s fortunes as the most popular South Pacific’s island destination among Kiwi holiday-makers have faded. However, its high advertising recall rate suggests that New Zealanders haven’t forgotten its existence.

“For its South Pacific neighbours, Fiji’s fall from favour has had a positive impact on tourism growth, with Cook Island and Samoa benefiting from growth in ad recall and tourist numbers through investment in destination marketing, more weekly flights with competitive pricing and trade agreements with New Zealand.

“Information on South Pacific tourism movement and advertising awareness provides a helpful insight for marketers looking to get a clear picture of the current state of the South Pacific tourism industry.

“For Fiji, it’s a critical time to use this data to identify how it can target and position its brand image to win back its former glory as the iconic tropical island destination.”

Click here to view our extensive range of NZ tourism and travel profiles, including Fiji: Fiji Holiday Visitor Profile, People Aware of Advertising for Fiji, Pacific Holiday Intender Profile, overseas advertising recall, and many more.

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Office: +61 (03) 9224 5309

About Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.

Roy Morgan Research New Zealand

Roy Morgan Research was set up in New Zealand in the 1990s and has been collecting information across a wide range of industries in New Zealand ever since.  Roy Morgan currently has over 10 years of trended data on a geographically and demographically representative sample of over 12,000 New Zealanders aged 14+. 

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%