NZ is an expensive country to fly from/to, so it might make more sense to fly get a cheap ticket to Sydney or Brisbane with Virgin Blue, then transfer to another airline, preferably another discount airline. Baggage limits can be an issue. Developing countries tend to be cheaper. I would recommend the Vietnam for Asia, fly-drive in Australia, see http://campa-living.blogspot.com. For instance I returned from the Philippines with discount airline Tiger Airways, via Singapore to Darwin (or Perth), then I got a campervan across Australia to Sydney for just $5/day, with a fuel allowance. Discount airlines are flexible enough to allow you to do that. Being able to live out of a campervan meant I could easily stop wherever I wanted, eat healthy out of Woolworths and Coles stores, internet from libraries, showers at public swimming pools, public toilets in public reserves and hotels, even coffee shops. Makes a nice way to travel.
The Philippines is another cheap country to travel through as transport standards are good, its cheap and English speaking, and you can also travel overland through back-country. My next overland trip will be Manila to Davao, fly or boat to Manado, overland through Sulawesi to Makassar, ferry to (via Sarabaya) Denpaser to Bali, or flight to Australia, for the overland campervan trip. You might even be able to swing a camper back if you can triangulate your destinations.
The attraction of the Philippines is that until recently it has not really had a tourist identity; and for good reason, it never had an organised travel program. Recently increased expenditure on road upgrades, discount airlines has resulted in more Filipinos travelling and holidaying at home, and this has prompted a lot of governors to improve their facilities, whether hotels, restaurants, and events. Its early days but I note that viewing decks are being constructed along highways; hotels are being constructed, pathways are being built along rivers or to scenic locations like waterfalls. Tourist values will I believe result in people developing more pride in their community. You can expect more defensiveness as well. For instance the tourist hub of Sagada has a resolution to stop outsiders buying property there. It is still a big premature to travel to the Philippines...give it another 5-10 years. In the interim I recommend Vietnam.
The point of this article is to develop a long term travel strategy, schedule for a combination of travel values, avoid those standardised international hotels that really offer no unique travel experience. Travel is as much a learning experience as a restive escape. Make your holiday as full of activities and reflective opportunities as you can. I value the opportunity to hang out with expats in bars because they are well-travelled people living interesting lives.
Andrew Sheldon www.sheldonthinks.com