Best stopovers for Kiwis leaving this hemisphere for another

MARY NICHOLS
Last updated 05:00 18/10/2013

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Kiwi travellers spend a lot of time transitting through airports around the world. We've picked our top stopovers for Kiwis leaving this hemisphere for another.

Stopover: Hong Kong

Destination: Asia, Europe

Don't miss: Shopping, Disneyland

Hong Kong is one of the leading financial centres in East-Asia. That said, it is also known for being a tax haven, making it perfect for a tax-free shopping trip.

The island is colloquially known to some as Hong Kongkrete, but outside the city centre its landscape is mostly rural so it is possible to head out of the urban centre and engage in some intrepid travel.

For travellers with (or without) children, Hong Kong Disneyland will probably be a priority. The theme park is located 20 minutes away from the airport and is modelled after Disney in LA.  

Stopover: Dubai

Destination: Africa, Europe, Middle East

Don't miss: Cheap gold, shopping malls, Bastakia Quarter

Time magazine has aptly described the city as one of the super rich and the super poor, where the divide between the "have nots" and the "have yachts" is very apparent.  

Shopping in Dubai is reportedly average, but the experience is intriguing. The Mall of the Emirates has an indoor ski slope with real snow, if you feel like taking a break from the beach to hit the slopes.  

The gold souk, a traditional gold market, is a must in a city renowned for cheap gold. Quality of merchandise is tightly controlled so purchases are genuine - but be sure to haggle for purchases as you can often get them for a much lower price.  

The Bastakia Quarter is a great stop on your visit, to catch a glimpse of Dubai's origins as a quiet fishing village.

Stopover: Sydney

Destination: Europe, Asia

Best tips: Beaches and shopping

Sydney is so proximate to us, that many probably overlook it as a stopover. However, it's a great city to enjoy on the way from or to a colder destination, with over 100 beaches to choose from.  

Sydney is renowned for Bondi, Coogee and Manly but another to note is Palm Beach - where television's Home and Away is filmed.

It's also a shopping mecca - Paddington's Oxford Street is one of the best spots to shop in and  the weekend markets scattered around the city are great for food, clothing and vintage items.

The cafe culture is flourishing in Sydney - so it is also well worth your time to visit Surrey Hills to visit one of its award-winning cafes.

Stopover: Honolulu

Destination: USA

Best tip: Pearl Harbour memorial sites, beaches, fitness

The city is a major tourist destination and gateway to the United States. It is a hub for international business, military defense, as well as famously being host to a diverse variety of east-west and Pacific culture, cuisine, and traditions.

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While you're there make sure to visit the USS Arizona memorial, commemorating a warship which was bombed in WWII, killing 1,177 officers onboard.  

For a bit of down-time at the beach, try Waikiki.  It is the most popular beach in the area and used to be a retreat for Hawaiian royalty in the 1800s.

Surf and fitness fanatics will also love the island as the climate is suitable for fitness and sport all year round.  

Surfing and volleyball competitions take place on the beach throughout the year and there are at least three road races held every year, some drawing entries from over 20,000 people.  

Stopover: Reykjavik, Iceland

Destination: Europe

Best tip: Geothermal spas, Northern Lights, food and shopping

Iceland is the world's northernmost capital and while not exactly a common stopover, it can be a great place to view the Aurora Borealis in winter.  

Iceland is a hotbed of volcanic activity, and the Blue Lagoon, a famous geothermal spa, is located just 40 minutes out of the city. The 40°C fluorescent blue pool is open all year round.

The Scandinavians are well-known for their creativity and the capital is also a great place to check out emerging designers in both fashion and design.  

Bar culture in the city is pretty similar to New Zealand's, with people going out at about midnight - and with over 100 bars and restaurants in the city, it's a fantastic opportunity to sample Icelandic cuisine, coffee and beer.

Stopover: Kuala Lumpur

Destination: Asia, Europe

Best tip: Birds, Batu Caves, sightseeing

Kuala Lumpur is the green capital of Asia, and a meeting point for Malay, Chinese, Tamil, Arabian and Iranian cultures.  

If you don't suffer from ornithophobia, visit the KL Bird Park where you can pose with owls and parrots, feed parakeets, observe flying flamingos and potentially chase peacocks around in a natural-feeling setting.  

While there is so much to see and do in the city - make sure to get to the Bukit Bintang entertainment district and the iconic 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers.

Stopover: Bangkok, Thailand

Destination: Asia, Europe

Best tip: shopping, food, sightseeing

Most go to Thailand as a destination in itself, but a stopover on the way is an inventive way to get there.  

Resorts around Bangkok are a big drawcard, but make sure you also check out the historical aspects of Bangkok.  

The Grand Palace, which was the home of the Thai King for 150 years and the Royal Reception Hall feature breathtaking Thai architecture.  

Try Siam Square, known as the hub of all things cool, it features an open-air shopping complex and is popular with trendy locals.

For night-activities Royal City Avenue is the hub of nightclub culture- where you'll find a place to party seven nights a week. The floating markets are a must see - with boats piled high with tropical fruit and vegetables, coconut juice and local food cooked from floating kitchens located right on the boat.  

The Chatuchak weekend markets are also a good place to pick up gifts.  

Long layover: Changi

Destination: Europe, Asia

Best tip: The slide

If you have to spend a lot of time at an airport, but can't leave it - try the World's number one ranked airport, Singapore's Changi Terminal.

It has the world's longest slide in an airport and it is a good way to get an adrenaline rush minus the turbulence.  If you have children under 5, they're out of luck but they could be put to good use as bag holders down the bottom.   

The airport also boasts free wi-fi, computer/internet stands, free recliners with large flat screen TV's and a chance to feed koi in the mall.

Do you have a favourite stopover? Leave a comment below.

- Stuff

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