New Zealand’s Top Travel Influencers with Great Social Media Game
Dreaming of lounging on sandy beaches sipping drinks served ocean-side? Or maybe you’d prefer hiking through a lush forest up a craggy peak to get that perfect mountaintop selfie.
What if you could not only travel like this, but also get paid for it? It may sound too good to be true, but travel social media influencers have found a way to make this fantasy their reality. If this sounds like something you’d like to try, check out some of the leading travel influencers NZ -style on Instagram and get inspired to pack your bags, hit the seas or the skies and have an influencer adventure of your own.
We’ve chosen to focus on non-celebrity accounts who built their travel writing and photography portfolio from the ground up. When you start your search for a charming New Zealand cottage from which to launch your own social media empire, remember Bachcare can take care of all your accommodation needs as you venture out on your travels.
After moving to Queenstown, Jane (originally from the UK) fell completely head over heels in love with it. She started her Instagram and blogging journey 8 years ago by sharing beautiful photos while exploring her new home.
Since then things have naturally grown for Jane, who now has a range of platforms including her @queenstownlife Instagram, Queenstown Life blog, a podcast, and a business coaching venture. Her goal? “I want to make you laugh, make your eyes pop, putting ‘People’s Stories First’ and connecting you to the brands and business doing just good stuff”.
Jane covers a raft of lifestyle, family, small business advice and travel content, proving you can be a travel influencer without making that your sole focus. A key pillar of her travel content is covering local spots in and around Queenstown (you don’t have to go far to make great travel content!), bringing in her local perspective and insider tips for an authentic feel.
Her quirky nature and realness helped grow her followers to 20.5k, and with over 3,000 posts @queenstownlife is one of New Zealand’s top travel Instagram influencers.
The Leo Style
Larissa (aka Leo) is a free spirited fire sign. Her background in fashion styling and makeup artistry prompted the initial inspiration behind her blog, born during the pursuit to find artistic inspiration and connect with others who shared similar interests.
Her account is a perfect blend of fashion and adventure. Not only do you get to see some amazing travel destinations around the world but you also get some amazing fashion and travel outfit ideas. Her feed feels like you’re part of these fun whānau adventures, with a pop of fashion thrown in for good measure.
It’s no wonder her pleasing Instagram aesthetic and focused family content has garnered @theleostyle 16k followers.
Jon Is Travelling
As a young man of 19, Jon may not have known what he wanted out of life, but living abroad quickly taught him. Leaving home to teach English in Taiwan called on skills Jon never knew he had, and he proved to himself just how adaptable he could be. Far from everything familiar to him, he tapped into an inner strength and the experience inspired him to stretch even further. After his teaching stint in 2010, he explored Southeast Asia for six months. Then he spent another year teaching, this time in Singapore. When that contract ended, he set out to see the rest of the world.
His preferred travelling style is unstructured, he recommends not having a set itinerary. Free from a schedule, your inner adventurer is released and every experience becomes unexpected and surprising. He blogs at the completely unpretentious Jon Is Travelling. Currently back home in New Zealand, he is exploring the South Island. His blog posts are funny and irreverent. He clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously, resulting in some hilarious writing. His Instagram handle is jonistravelling where he posts some spectacular photographs, lately of his native New Zealand which has no shortage of incredible scenery. His particular focus is on hiking to get that perfect shot, seeing all the beaches the world has to offer, and admiring historical architecture. With 7,201 followers admiring his over 550 photos he is one of the top travel Instagram influencers of New Zealand.
After studying interior design, Anita set out for the UK on a two year working holiday visa. While there she was able to travel in her spare time, meeting fascinating people and exploring foreign locals. She got bitten by the travel bug and the rest, as they say, is history. Her blog, Anita Hendrieka, was born in 2011 out of a desire to share everything she learned on her travels. The challenge of blogging inspires her creativity while also providing an outlet for it. Full of useful advice and colourful opinions, she’s the one to turn to when you need motivation and inspiration to get out there and bust out of your comfort zone. She seeks to shatter the myths and misconceptions about various locals through sharing her own experiences.
Her ninety day “Blog Machine” course will help newbie travel writers get their blogging organised and running smoothly for reliable long term growth. Her own experience as a successful writer taught her the pitfalls and mistakes beginners often stumble into, and she is happy to help others avoid the errors she herself made. On Instagram at
anitahendrieka, she posts a mix of travel photography and advice for growing your media footprint through social media and blogging. She boasts nearly 9,000 followers which is no surprise given her informative content.
Bren on the Road
Travel provided the off ramp out of the daily grind for Brendan. At the age of only 21 he was already toiling away in a dreary cubicle preparing tax returns as an accountant in a large New Zealand firm. After two years, he was ready for an escape. Luckily his firm offered eight week sabbaticals for employees. Little did he know his life was about to take an 180 degree turn. He seized the chance to do something he’d always wanted to: learn a second language. He travelled to southern Spain to immerse himself in the language and culture. Enchanted by the people and the Spanish experience, he found new life was breathed into him. He was learning Spanish, but “yes” became his language. No opportunity or invitation was turned down. Returning to his desk job was unsustainable after this transformation and he left his positiom within a year.
Nine years of exploration after that inspired him to help others achieve the same liberation and freedom he found through travel, and at his blog, Bren on the Road he does just that. Travel remains his first love, but he also blogs on finances, fitness, relationships and dreaming big. Get inspired by his Instagram at brenontheroad where he has 1,900 followers and 1,200 posts. His account documents a little bit of everything, including his life philosophy, fitness exploits, personal heroes, reading recommendations, culinary snapshots and travel destinations. You’ll definitely want to follow.
Blogger at Large
Megan Singleton wears many hats. Public speaker, author, radio travel correspondent, and travel blogger are just a few of her titles. She was bit by the travel bug at the tender age of 17, leaving her tiny home town of Hastings, New Zealand as an exchange student headed for Rockville, Maryland in the US. In her early twenties she rambled around Europe until finally studying journalism at the New Zealand Institute of Business Studies where she naturally fell in love with travel writing. After three years writing for a travel agency, she was abruptly let go when the agency decided to end their blog.
Using the crisis as an opportunity she started her own blog, Blogger at Large. Since 2000 when she first started writing about travel full time she has circled the globe several times and has won awards from the US Travel Association for her travel writing. She is currently the Sunday travel reporter for Newstalk ZB which can be heard across New Zealand. Of note for aspiring influencers: her blog features a short guide to travel writing in How to Write a Great Travel Story. She also offers a Blog Training Masterclass. The half-day workshop shares everything she wishes she knew when she was first starting out as an influencer. Megan has 1200 followers on Instagram and has published 411 posts, mostly taken with her iPhone from her often quirky point of view. You can find her there at bloggeratlarge.
Mr Mike Dawson
Mike is an adventure and adrenaline junky. Growing up extreme white water kayaking in the Bay of Plenty, and competing for New Zealand in Canoe Slalom meant from a young age he was always on a mission to find a new river to run, or heading off to Europe to compete.
This thirst for adventure has taken him to all corners of the earth, including filming kayaking documentaries in Angola and Pakistan, and a trip to Antartica that saw him stuck on a boat off the coast of Argentina for the start of the pandemic. Mike also makes the most of our backyard with kayaking, mountain biking and hiking adventures with his partner Martina. His travel style is off the beaten path, and pushes him to the limits – like circumnavigating Stewart Island by sea kayak in winter!
His Instagram handle @mrmikedawson boasts impressive scenic landscape and action photography for his 13,000 followers, who love getting a behind the scenes look at his adventurous travel. He’s definitely one to encourage others to get off the path well-traveled and explore, so follow along on Mike’s next adventure to get inspired.