Alex and Marko Ayling from San Diego won the worldwide, MyDestination.com’s ‘Biggest, Baddest, Bucket List’ competition giving entrants the chance to experience a life-changing, all-expenses-paid, six month round the world trip based on their own ‘bucket list.’
The brothers hand-picked their 25 ‘bucket list’ destinations before embarking on their six-month trip, choosing New Zealand as the final chapter of their epic journey so they could find out about their Kiwi roots.
Their father, Robert Ayling was born in Napier on New Zealand’s North Island. Ayling grew up in the Napier suburb of Taradale and studied law at Victoria University (Wellington) before leaving to travel the world in his late twenties.
The brothers’ 12-day trip starts in Queenstown - the undisputed adventure capital of New Zealand. From Queenstown they will make their way to New Zealand’s 'creative capital’ Wellington before enjoying the cultural-melting pot of Auckland and Rotorua, a region well-known for its rich Maori heritage.
Alex and Marko, whose forebears first arrived in New Zealand in 1875, said the chance to come to New Zealand and "find their roots" was an amazing opportunity and the "perfect end" to their world tour.
The thrill-seeking brothers are also looking forward to enjoying some of the best adventure activities New Zealand has to offer.
"With the help of the My Destination New Zealand team, we’ve lined up some typically Kiwi activities such as bungy jumping, sailing an America’s Cup boat and experiencing a traditional Maori hangi and cultural show, but we’re also looking forward to meeting the locals and getting behind the scenes of each of the places we’ll visit.
"In our eyes that’s the real way to see anywhere, talk to the locals."
My Destination New Zealand managing director, Mike Watt said he was "extremely privileged" that the brothers chose New Zealand as one of their Biggest Baddest Bucket List destinations.
"Of all the countries in the world they could have visited they chose New Zealand as their final destination. It’s quite an honour," said Mr Watt.
"I can’t wait to see what the boys come up with. It’ll be great to showcase New Zealand to the world from their eyes."
The global travel competition launched by My Destination in January 2013, invited contestants to submit a three-minute video and showcase the unique aspects of their favourite destination.
The "skills, enthusiasm and passion for travel" that Marko and Alex demonstrated saw them beat off competition from 640 destinations and more than 110 different countries.
The charismatic brothers have earned themselves a great online following on social networking sites such as youtube, twitter and MyDestination.com.bb since their trip got underway almost six months ago.