November 30, 2011

NEW ZEALAND: Older people becoming adventurous travellers

WELLINGTON, New Zealand / Waikato Times / Travel / November 30, 2011

World of adventure for older

By Ali Tocker

Coach trips and cups of tea just are not cutting it any more as a holiday choice for older people.

Leaping with llamas or abseiling in Antarctica are more likely to grab the attention of the over-55s, Hamilton company Calder & Lawson Tours says.

"Older people used to fancy a trip to the Gold Coast, but now they want to go to Uzbekistan, Mongolia or Antarctica," general manager Catherine Gerbich said.

TRAVEL TREASURES: Anne Fredrickson, who is in her 70s, with mementoes from her overseas adventures. Mrs Fredrickson is among an increasing number of older travellers. Katrina Bieleski/Fairfax NZ

"They're becoming more and more adventurous, and demanding things out of the ordinary. Eighty is the new 60," she said.

Tours have been adjusted to accommodate changing demand, and now include places like Uzbekistan, Borneo, Yunnan and Tibet.

"People aren't just looking at new destinations, but also at new ways of travel," Miss Gerbich said. "We used to offer only coach tours of China and Italy, but people said they wanted to get out of the bus more – so we started offering walking tours as well."

Options include travelling by bicycle in Vietnam and Cambodia; by working cargo ship around the Marquesas Islands or by clipper ship in the Arctic Circle.

Initially, the company offered one walking tour a year to destinations like Western Australia. By 2012, about 30 per cent of the company's options will be either walking tours or visits to such countries as Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Older people's travel preferences were changing for a range of reasons, Miss Gerbich said.

Different regions were more accessible with more flights, and better nutrition was contributing to a longer life.

"There's an awareness among people you have to keep moving and learning to stay young. People are realising life doesn't finish at retirement age. They are going out and searching for things to do to keep their minds active," she said.

When older people returned from an adventure holiday, many were soon looking for their next adventure, Miss Gerbich said.

"We have people on our Yunnan and Tibet tour looking at the Azerbaijan tour or Antarctica."

Most of the company's tour guides ranged in age from their 50s to their 70s.


© 2011 Fairfax New Zealand Limited

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