Holiday Inn Express & Suites Queenstown rises to meetings challenge

Out of adversity comes opportunity, and Queenstown’s Holiday Inn Express & Suites is proof of that. The 227-room hotel opened to guests on July 10 last year, in what might be described as “challenging times”.

Out of adversity comes opportunity, and Queenstown’s Holiday Inn Express & Suites is proof of that.

The 227-room hotel opened to guests on July 10 last year, in what might be described as “challenging times”.

And it rose to that challenge not only in the domestic leisure market but in targeting the meetings and incentive market and building a reputation in less than 12 months for delivering outstanding events.

To date, the property has hosted three exclusive events – a five-day incentive in October, an aged care ‘buyout’ in February and a lawyer’s conference just last month.

It has also run residential and non-residential events on a weekly basis in its smaller Tahuna and Kopaka meeting rooms with great feedback. Much of that business has been word-of-mouth and referrals.

At MEETINGS in Auckland on June 2-3, attended by IHG Key Account Director New Zealand Matthew Cornelissen, it is launching its new meetings kit.

“Our hotel is the smart choice for accommodation, meetings and events with two multi-function spaces and group accommodation available,” says General Manager Jason Sabin.

“We meet and exceed every expectation for businesses looking for everything from boardroom meetings up to a larger cocktail event in our outstanding Great Room.”

“From the moment we stepped into the building we firmly believed the Great Room design, with its modern, contemporary alpine vibe, high ceilings, amazing mountain outlook and central bar and reception meant it would make an amazing venue space.

“Making the most of all our unique spaces, even our Ember Outdoor Lounge with its inviting fire pit off the northern end of the Great Room is a fantastic space for a smaller cocktail function, BBQ lunch event or the perfect spot for a Central Otago pinot at the end of the day.”

Testimonials to date tell the story, including business won after Sales and Marketing Director Kylie Walker conducted a two-hour virtual site inspection, sight unseen. PCO Moni Collins organised that event, one of the first large events to come to Queenstown post-Covid for a company which had originally planned to go to Buenos Aires.

“The staff and management do wonders with a level of hospitality that is top class, and with its location on the edge of town the hotel provides easy access to the sights and sounds of Queenstown,” says Mr Collins.

“After making Covid-necessary changes to our international destination and moving our event to the adventure capital of the world, we couldn’t be happier with the results, given the fantastic feedback from all conference delegates, largely due to the efficiency and quality of the hotel staff.”

The aged care business involved in the buyout in February loved the conference so much they re-booked for next year, and a prominent law group that visited last month said they were the “best team we have worked with in 22 years of their conferences.”

Jason says that while Holiday Inn Express is a new brand to New Zealand, not historically associated with large conference and incentive business, the Queenstown property has shown how it naturally lends itself to MICE business.

“It’s been rewarding to have these wins despite the interesting first year we’ve faced, and we’re looking forward to more borders opening and welcoming more events of all shapes and sizes in the future,” he says.

“If there’s one thing the past year has taught us it’s to think on our feet, be creative around what we have to offer, and trust in the quality of our venue, our events and the ability of our staff to deliver.”

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Queenstown’s Kiwi Birdlife Park marks 35th anniversary with ‘35 for 35’ campaign

Thirty-five years of outstanding contributions to the survival of New Zealand’s unique species is under threat at Queenstown’s Kiwi Birdlife Park. 

Thirty-five years of outstanding contributions to the survival of New Zealand’s unique species is under threat at Queenstown’s Kiwi Birdlife Park.

As the park marks the milestone anniversary this year, celebrations are muted as it faces the very real possibility of closure without continued funding and financial support.

So with the Easter break and school holidays just around the corner, it’s launching a ’35 for 35’ campaign for the month of April, encouraging each visitor to donate $35 for the experience — a mere dollar for each year of wildlife conservation. 

The park has been a labour of love for the Wilson family – 35 years ago metalsmith Dick Wilson and his wife Noeleen had an unlikely ‘vision’ of building the resort town’s first birdlife and conservation park on an overgrown piece of wasteland.  

Today that same park is owned by their son Paul and his wife Sandra, and their own son Richard also works in the business.

Over the decades it’s attracted thousands of visitors every year and is recognised nationwide for its conservation success stories, taking part in a number of ‘breed-for-release’ programmes and displaying over 20 species of native wildlife. It’s also planted nearly 20,000 native trees to provide essential food and shelter to wild native birds.

Now the future is looking grim, with revenue down 80% year-to-date and funding from the Wildlife Institute Relief Fund only covering a proportion of overall costs. Those costs are incurred whether they’re open or not, with two or three keepers required on site every day to care for and feed the wildlife.

Understandably, Paul Wilson says the family is incredibly saddened by the downturn after 35 years of hard work.  

“We’re trying so many new and different ways to keep our head above water, but this is more than just about the money,” he says.

“This park has always been about wildlife survival. We’re passionate about wildlife and so are all our staff.

“We’ve developed one of the best whio breeding programmes in the country and it would be a devastating loss to the whio population if this couldn’t continue. In 2019 and 2020 we built an outstanding new Kiwi House which we’re still paying off, so we’d really love to share this amazing new exhibit with some visitors.

“We’re so proud of what we’ve built up here but this is the biggest challenge we’ve faced in 35 years and we need support more than ever. We need people to come and see one of the biggest kiwi display houses in the country, celebrate our breeding programmes in the knowledge that they’re contributing to future conservation success, and enjoy the conservation show which is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

“We know we’re loved by locals and by visitors from near and far, so everyone who visits will know their $35is going a very long way, hopefully for the next 35 years, for a very good cause.”  


  1. January 13 1986 opened its doors to it’s first visitors
  2. 1989 – Joins captive breed-for-release programme for critically endangered black stilts with only 23 left in the world. 
  3. 1996 – First kiwi (Koru) hatched at the park.
  4. 2001 – Conservation Show launched, first free-flight bird show in New Zealand. 
  5. 2004 – First Haast tokoeka (kiwi) chick hatched, the first time this species ever hatched in captivity.
  6. 2005- Our audio guide, a self guided audio tour, launched. 
  7. 2010 – New enclosure showcases NZ’s sub-antarctic island species. 
  8. 2012 – Joins captive breed-for-release programme for whio (blue duck)
  9. 2013- Became the first institute in NZ to be accredited with providing positive animal welfare.
  10. 2015 – New reptile wing built.
  11. 2017- celebrated the release of our 200th pateke duckling into the wild since the year 2000. 
  12. 2018 – Bush regeneration programme was intensified with the cutting down of 129 invasive pine and fir trees and the planting of 5,000 native trees.
  13. 2019- New falcon exhibit built and breed for release programme for South Island kaka started.
  14. 2020 – State-of-the-art new Kiwi House built  
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Ziptrek Ecotours launches world’s first augmented zipline tour

Award-winning Ziptrek Ecotours in Queenstown, New Zealand, is taking its first steps in combining adventure tourism with digital storytelling. 

Award-winning Ziptrek Ecotours in Queenstown, New Zealand, is taking its first steps in combining adventure tourism with digital storytelling.  

With tourism going through massive change and upheaval, Ziptrek’s built on its reputation as a renowned leader in eco-tourism to incorporate XR (extended reality) technologies into adventure tourism.

Ziptrek perceives its focus is as a storyteller, contextualizing its place in nature and creating meaningful ‘wow’ moments of travel.

Business owner Trent Yeo says the challenge was to take the perception of XR as being one of technological immersion for many young people in particular, and refocus the technology application to one of nature interaction.

“That’s the basis on which we’ve developed our animated tour guide ‘Kerry the Kereru’, taking people out on our very real, touchable environments in our treehouses and on our ziplines with our guides, as always, but with the addition of a light digital overlay,” he says.

The new Kereru Interactive tour (known as K.I for short) features animated tour guide Kerry the Kereru voiced by local Kiwi author and singer Craig Smith, known to Kiwi kids and families everywhere as the Wonky Donkey man.

While the technology is still nascent and XR business cases still developing, Ziptrek is excited to build this experiment in human interaction. Alongside human guides, Kerry is a digital avatar that travels with guests as they’re taken back in time and through a physical forest zipline course. In keeping with the company’s environmental focus the story is about Aotearoa, the land of birds.

Trent says whether guests remember Roger Rabbit or Pokemon Go, this is Ziptrek’s ‘first step’ blended environment where digital assets are contextualized by spectacular natural surroundings.

“We look forward to the opportunities that augmented and mixed realities (XR) can create in the intersection with a real-life tourism experience,” he says.

The project team has been working for about 18 months, with the release delayed by Covid.  Alongside Ziptrek, its technology partner Plattar worked tirelessly to bring this to market when many businesses were contracting R&D investment.

Plattar founder Rupert Deans says the platform enables leading tourism operators like Ziptrek to move beyond traditional tourism delivery by unlocking the power of 3D and augmented reality, creating unique and shareable moments for guests.

“The tourism space is one of the most exciting expressions of this technology. We’re excited to work with Trent and Ziptrek on this pilot and look forward to building further on this,” he says.

The innovative Kereru Interactive will feature the exciting 21m ‘Kereru Drop’ after guests travel along two ziplines. For those who prefer not to do ‘the drop’ and are a bit more marginal than a Kereru at flying, there’s an alternative option to return via a small exit zipline.

The tour officially launches this month with booking available from Monday March 29. The K.I. product will take an hour and is available at an introductory price of $89, available for the first month for direct bookings via the website and in store before extending to its trade partners.

Social media handles are #kereruinteractive, #ki, #ziptreknz  #ziplinesnz  

Check out the details on the K.I promotional video here 

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Ziptrek Ecotours takes eco-education to new heights 

Ziptrek Ecotours aims to educate and inspire New Zealand’s leaders of tomorrow towards long-term environmental and sustainable practices with a pioneering new eco-education outdoor learning programme in Queenstown.

Ziptrek Ecotours aims to educate and inspire New Zealand’s leaders of tomorrow towards long-term environmental and sustainable practices with a pioneering new eco-education outdoor learning programme in Queenstown.

The company is using its architecturally designed treehouses and ziplines high on Bob’s Peak as an ‘outdoor classroom’ to showcase sustainable tourism at work and how businesses can future-proof for environmental, social and financial success.

The interactive eco-education programme is primarily aimed at tertiary students, career advisors and educators and is a practical ‘take’ on the STEM curriculum of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.  Tours are custom-designed to align with each group’s academic requirements.

Science is covered off with discussions on Ziptrek’s biodiversity, introduced species and Predator Free 2050 support as well as its work in becoming a Carbon Zero business. Technology talks to the systems and design used to streamline Ziptrek’s business, such as remote area solar energy powering cameras and gates, while the structural design benefits and challenges of the treehouses and ziplines is a must for engineers. Maths is applied to the metrics measuring Ziptrek’s business and the physics and cable design in ziplines.

The two-hour experience starts from $49 per person and includes a tailored talk by one of the team, a site exploration, and a zip down the world’s steepest tree to tree zipline – dropping 30 storeys in 10 seconds at speeds of up to 70kmph.   There are also options to upgrade to either the four-line Moa Tour or premium six-line Kea tour.

The outdoor learning initiative aligns with Ziptrek’s deep commitment to education, sustainability and conservation.   It forms part of its ongoing work under New Zealand’s Tourism Sustainability Commitment and the Future-Fit framework, a global and open-sourced sustainability framework relating to UN development goals.

Other initiatives within its education programme include a Paper4Trees recycling project with pre-schools and schools, and Queenstown Resort College internships.

Ziptrek executive director Trent Yeo believes that while COVID-19 has created opportunity for a tourism reset and renewed focus on sustainability, more education is needed to achieve New Zealand’s vision to lead the world in sustainable tourism.

“We hope our new eco-education tour will help inform, inspire and empower New Zealand’s leaders of tomorrow to think more deeply about doing business in a way that creates long-term value for our people, our economy and our environment,” he says.

“Our tour turns theory into practice through ‘outside the classroom’ learning and helps participants experience first-hand some of the exciting and innovative career pathways within the tourism industry.

“We also demonstrate how our business decisions, centred around making the right call for the environment and our community, have translated into a world-class adventure experience and sustainable tourism business.”

Early uptake on the programme has proven successful with several tertiary institutions, including ARA Institute of Canterbury and the Auckland-based Crown Institute of Studies, which provides training in travel and tourism hospitality, health and wellbeing, business and computing, giving it rave reviews.

“I’ve heard from all the career advisors and teachers who experienced your programme that your company is inspirational and futuristic,” says Dr Josephine Do, Managing Director of Crown Institute of Studies.

Career/education advisors from Southland Careers and Transition Education (CATE) also visited recently to better understand employment possibilities for young people from their region, careers in the tourism sector and how places like Queenstown are adapting in response to a COVID world.

The programme’s been welcomed by regional tourism body Destination Queenstown which also presents to visiting groups.

“Ziptrek is one of many Queenstown operators which has thought outside the square to develop new and exciting programmes and product in the aftermath of Covid,” says DQ acting General Manager Ann Lockhart.

“We’re fully supportive of their education initiative, especially as this helps us demonstrate that there IS a future in tourism for our young people, with exciting and innovative career pathways in the industry. We have some of the best tourism operators in the country running businesses here.”

For more information about tour options visit

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50,000 salmon smolt released into Lake Tekapo

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon and Central South Island Fish & Game Council released 50,000 smolt into the crystal clear waters of Lake Tekapo last week.

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon and Central South Island Fish & Game Council released 50,000 smolt into the crystal clear waters of Lake Tekapo last week.

The young salmon, which are about two years old, were raised at the nearby Mt Cook Alpine Salmon Ohau hatchery on the Ohau Canal. Last week’s release was part of the Fish & Game Council’s “put and take” programme in Lake Tekapo, developed over the past 10 years.

Fish and Game officer Rhys Adams says the release will “reinvigorate” the salmon fishery in the lake, but they will need time to grow to between two and four pounds.

The tanker load of smolt was taken to the outlet of Lake McGregor on the western shore of Lake Tekapo for release.

“The last release was in 2018 and has proven successful with anglers reporting catches in the last spring to summer period,” he says.

“Anglers should pencil in the spring-summer of 2022 to target these hard-fighting fish.”

In the meantime, Lake Tekapo offers a great Rainbow and Brown trout fishery, married with some of the best scenery in New Zealand.

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon CEO David Cole said the gifting of smolt was part of the company’s policy of giving back to the fishing community.

“We have an excellent relationship with Fish & Game and are very happy to help sustain the Lake Tekapo Salmon fishery,” he says.

“We hope it will make up somewhat for the cancellation of the very popular Kids Salmon Fishing Competition because of COVID.”

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon Ltd farms Freshwater King Salmon in the South Canterbury hydro canals of the MacKenzie District. This special salmon is sought after for its clean subtle taste and delicate texture, in New Zealand and across the globe.

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NZONE Skydive celebrates thirty years in the sky

New Zealand’s first commercial tandem skydive operation is celebrating a milestone 30 years of operation this month.

New Zealand’s first commercial tandem skydive operation is celebrating a milestone 30 years of operation this month.

Three decades ago NZONE Skydive took to the skies in Queenstown, the home of adventure, thanks to the incredible vision of founders Robynne and Lindsay Williams.

Over the years its grown to become the world’s leading tandem skydive operation, giving more than 350,000 passengers to date the thrill of a lifetime, and with more to come.

Starting with just three staff members at its base in a paddock near Queenstown in October 1990, it grew year-on-year to become a world-renowned, multi-awarded adventure tourism operation.

Today it also operates Skydive Wanaka (the second-largest skydive company in New Zealand operating for 25 years) and Skydive Southern Alps. The company employed close to 200 staff in pre-COVID times and completed 60% of all tandem skydives in New Zealand.

Meeting the COVID challenge head on, NZONE Skydive is committed to keeping the doors open and retaining as many staff as possible.

“With a legacy of 30 years of operations under our belt as one of Queenstown’s pioneering adventure tourism companies we’re in a battle to survive,” says Skydive Queenstown General Manager Clark Scott.

“We’re celebrating our very special birthday with staff and customers, and over this summer and beyond we’ll continue to offer outstanding experiences to our domestic visitors and hopefully, in the near future, visitors from overseas.

“To all our customers, staff and key trade partners, we’d like to say a very heartfelt ‘Thank You’ for 30 years of incredible support. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

NZONE Skydive offers guests tandem skydives from 9000ft to 15000ft with up to 60 seconds freefall at speeds of 200 km/hour above some of the world’s most stunning scenery.

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New deals site set to correct the market, lands in the Tasman District and Nelson

The founders of a new discount deals site are calling out the industry for lack of transparency as they launch in the Tasman District and Nelson.

The founders of a new discount deals site are calling out the industry for lack of transparency as they launch in the Tasman District and Nelson.

Everyone loves a good discount but the team behind Deal Champ knows businesses are hurting, trying to keep afloat and keep staff employed.

That’s why they’ve come up with a new concept in online deals that’s touted as a ‘win-win’ for vendors and buyers, acknowledging that Deal Champ’s “on a mission” to disrupt the industry with longevity and sustainability at the forefront.

Co-founder and Business Development Manager Chris Bradley says in the build-up to Covid the deals industry had been “completely broken and out of control”.

“We all love a great deal but not if it forces businesses into a position where costs and commission rates keep going up, yields go down and people lose jobs,” he says.

“The old deals model of booking and payment systems rapidly unravelled as Covid took hold and there were some spectacular fallouts.”

So the Deal Champ model is very different from other deal and online booking sites, where the ‘deal’ the customer sees doesn’t deliver all those much-needed dollars into the operator’s pocket.

“Deal Champ is user-friendly, no contract, no commission and no bullshit,” says Chris.

The brand new business model was hammered out in a late-night brainstorm, fuelled by Covid-19 and a bottle of whisky.

Tasman businesses have been quick to get on board from tourism activities to lawyers and beauty salons and much more.

Deal Champ is the brainchild of the four founders of Queenstown-based Everything Travel Group (ETG) and experienced deals industry guru, Chris.

Nigel Hobbs, Matt Morgan, Callum Goodall and Kris Barrs of ETG had been running the online travel and tourism agency for nearly two decades, watching cracks slowly appear in the deals industry.

Like all good ‘lightbulb moment’ ideas the premise is simple – unlike other models, Deal Champ doesn’t take any commission or fees from vendors. Instead, customers pick their deal and pay 10% of their savings to Deal Champ, thereby ‘accessing’ the deal.

From that moment on, the transaction is between the customer and vendor only, meaning there’s no middleman, no holding payments and no hidden costs. Customers are sent an e-voucher to use to pay the vendor directly.

“We’ve set the bar high right from the get-go as we’re aiming to be the biggest and fairest deals site by Christmas, supporting local all the way,” says Chris.

The site will span across six different industries including experiences (encompassing tourism), accommodation, wellness, dining, retail and services.

Mark Burnaby, Managing Director of Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles, was thrilled to be on board with Deal Champ.

“We love the business model, it’s great that we can offer special promotions to New Zealanders that’s also affordable for our business and gives us some extra exposure online,” says Mark.

“There was definitely a need for Deal Champ, the commissions that have previously been paid on top of a discounted product is not ideal. This business model certainly fits us and it’s solving a problem for sellers and buyers.”

Stacey Annett, owner of The Beauty Lounge Beauty Clinic Nelson, echoed this sentiment.

“We really needed a good, honest deals sight. A lot of people use them as customers, including myself, and it’s good to know this is fair to everyone involved.”

Deal Champ’s Chris is adamant the deals industry needs to work with, not against vendors.

“In a really tough time in business life right now we need to work together to reset the industry and make it transparent so vendors can afford to keep staff employed and yields up.”

Deal Champ also has the investor support of hugely successful tech-hospitality startup First Table, founded by Queenstown’s Mat Weir.

Future developments will enable First Table restaurant listings to be purchased through Deal Champ, making the site New Zealand’s biggest deals platform.

Deal Champ has already launched in Queenstown and Christchurch over the past month and will roll out in different areas throughout New Zealand over the coming months.

Check out the new site here:

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Fiordland summer campaign launches with release of new website

Fiordland is laying out the proverbial red carpet for visitors this summer as the region launches its ‘reset for 2021’ summer campaign.

Fiordland is laying out the proverbial red carpet for visitors this summer as the region launches its ‘reset for 2021’ summer campaign.

Summer in Fiordland is a beautiful thing, and a holiday in this place of overwhelming natural beauty is designed to press the re-set button on the year most of us would rather forget.

The new campaign, targeting domestic travelers and positioning Te Anau as ‘base camp’ for Fiordland adventures, highlights their ‘must-do’s’ (which they’re calling the Great Eights) for visitors who want to experience the best of New Zealand wildlife, cuisine hiking and iconic destinations.

It’s all in the spirit of British writer Rudyard Kipling who declared Milford Sound the eighth wonder of the world back in the 1890’s.

And to make it as easy as can be for visitors to pick and choose between activities and locations guaranteed to make these summer holidays a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Destination Fiordland has launched its brand new Fiordland-Beyond Belief website.

The site is designed to position Fiordland in the minds of domestic travelLers as the ultimate destination to explore and spend time, to educate them about things to do in the region and encourage them to book direct.

The campaign and website come hot on the heels of the launch of new brand Fiordland – Beyond Belief just two short months after Covid ravaged the area’s tourism industry, already reeling after serious flooding damaged access routes and attractions in the area.

But like all good towns that ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to pride in their slice of paradise, Te Anau picked itself up and got back to opening the eyes of domestic visitors to their unique, inspiring, authentic and unmissable part of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The new website draws in potential visitors from around New Zealand who are on a mission to experience glacier-carved cliffs, dense rainforest, pumping waterfalls and the best walking tracks in the country, particularly those who have already made bookings on one of the Great Walks.

The ‘great eights’ – lists of must-do’s in the region — include insights on top locations for wow-factor money shots, foodie favourites from fine dining experiences to a quick but exceptionally good pie, eight great hikes and the lowdown on great wildlife encounters with everything from alpine parrots to reclusive rare and endangered birds and chubby fur seals.

Te Anau is a small town with a big heart, the perfect base camp for summer adventures. The famed Southland hospitality is real, and visitors are welcomed with open arms and treated like a local.

In the summer lush green rainforest abounds, with bright red flowers of the Southern rata (the southern native Christmas tree) dotted throughout.  Temperatures on summer afternoons can soar into the high 20’s so a dip in the lakes, a quiet moment on a stand-up paddle board, a cast of the fishing line or picnic on the beach are all great ways to spend time in Te Anau.

Summer must-do’s include boat cruises on Lake Te Anau or kayaking in Milford (Piopiotahi) or Doubtful (Patea) sounds to spot rare dolphins, penguins and fur seals.  Charter cruises provide outstanding fishing, diving and ocean-to-plate crayfish experiences and there’s a myriad of activities in Te Anau from Glowworm Caves to cycling or just relaxing by the lake like a local.

Take to the air to appreciate the sheer grandeur of towering mountains, glacial-carved valleys, thundering waterfalls and this magnificent coastline.

“Fiordland is incredible at any time of the year, but  summertime is pretty special and we know it will be a huge drawcard for Kiwis looking to spend this summer reconnecting with nature and taking the chance to have a genuine world-class experiences in their own backyard,” says Destination Fiordland manager Madeleine Peacock.

“The new website is a stunning showcase for everything we’ve got to offer and easy to navigate for those looking for inspiration and guidance when booking their ultimate summer getaway.”

Go to for more.

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Legendary Queenstown attraction Deer Park Heights to re-open

One of New Zealand’s most beloved visitor attractions is opening its gates again after 11 years.

One of New Zealand’s most beloved visitor attractions is opening its gates again after 11 years.

Queenstown’s Deer Park Heights originally opened in 1966 and became a hugely popular attraction, where visitors enjoyed a self-drive safari-style experience on an 800ha working farm boasting some of the best views in New Zealand.

For the past 11 years it has been operating as a breeding and finishing/working deer farm, and this will continue after the park re-opens to the public from October 20. 

The pioneering tourism destination attracted thousands of visitors over the years, and the Mee family are keen to welcome them back.

The technology has been updated, with a new online booking system providing an access code for a specific day for visitors to embark on a scenic drive and animal encounter.  Open seven days a week between daylight hours, Deer Park Heights is still the great value, family-orientated experience it always was.

Visitors to the park on the sunny Kelvin Heights Peninsula can get up close and personal with red and fallow deer, goats, miniature horses, llamas, alpacas, donkeys, and the delightfully different Kunekune pigs.

A $2 coin buys a tin of sheep nuts from a feeding station for some fun hand-feeding and a lifetime of memorable Instagram moments.

Visitors self-drive 5km up the road to several lookouts and stop to feed animals as they see them. At picnic spots, visitors can stretch their legs with a 20-minute walk to take in outstanding 360-degree views of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range. There’s no time limit on visits.

Movie buffs will recognise locations which featured in a range of Hollywood films such as Lord Of The Rings, Wolverine and Pete’s Dragon. Deer Park Heights has been in the same family for over 60 years and was one of the first deer farms in New Zealand to breed deer in captivity.

Owner Mike Mee says they’re keen to make it accessible for visitors once more because it’s “such a great place to go”.

“We were one of the Queenstown tourism pioneers when we opened at the same time as jetboat company Kjet and Skyline,” says Mike.

“Now we want to welcome visitors to a great fun, good value family day out for those who want to spend time in the outdoors and with our animals.

“To make it more family orientated we are limiting access to vehicles with up to 7-seats, excluding buses, minivans and commercial vehicles.  Unfortunately there’s no access for hikers or cyclists from the tollgate as they tend to scare the animals away, especially the deer.

“It’s such an amazing location and it seems a shame to not share it.”

It’s just $55 to book a vehicle per visit and pre-bookings must be made through Access is limited to the day booked and visitors can only enter once. An interactive online map will guide visitors to movie locations and areas of interest.

The park is 4km along Peninsula Road from the Kelvin Heights turn off in Queenstown and entry is signposted.

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Heli Glenorchy acquires Heliworks Queenstown – builds on brand for future

Heli Glenorchy, owned by Action Helicopters Limited and one of the Southern Lakes’ top scenic helicopter companies, has announced the acquisition of Heliworks Queenstown.

Heli Glenorchy, owned by Action Helicopters Limited and one of the Southern Lakes’ top scenic helicopter companies, has announced the acquisition of Heliworks Queenstown.

Heli Glenorchy director and chief pilot Nick Nicholson and co-director and maintenance controller Blair Christmas said they were proud and delighted to announce the move, which comes into effect today (Tuesday 1 September 2020).

Heliworks Queenstown was founded by the legendary Sir Richard (Hannibal) Hayes, who is renowned for extraordinary feats of search and rescue in New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

Meanwhile Heli Glenorchy’s Nick Nicholson grew up in Te Anau and has spent the majority of his flying career in the mountains of Fiordland, the Southern Lakes region and Alaska, including invaluable time spent working for Sir Richard.

Nick’s love and intimate knowledge of flying in the region led him to set up Heli Glenorchy five years ago.

Heli Glenorchy operates from the Glenorchy Airstrip on the doorstep of the Southern Alps, Mount aspiring and Fiordland National Parks. The five-year-old company boasts a modern fleet of helicopters, a 100% safety record, highly-experienced local pilots and access to remote locations with spectacular alpine scenery.

Heliworks Queenstown Helicopters 2012 Ltd has a proven reputation for excellence. It offers a wide range of Queenstown and Glenorchy scenic flight experiences, and provides a range of helicopter services from search and rescue and commercial operations to filming and tourism.

Heliworks Queenstown is also renowned for its proposals and wedding services, working with professional wedding photographers, celebrants and planners to fly wedding parties to unique locations.

Nick and Blair said it was a “privilege” to take the reins of such an iconic brand.

“We’re excited about the opportunity and challenge that lies ahead,” said Nick.

“Hannibal built this brand from the ground up, and I was lucky enough to work beside him for a number of years. Taking this business into the future is now a dream realised, even in these trying times.”

Hannibal said he was proud to see Heliworks Queenstown going into the safe and capable hands of Nick, who he respected both as a former employee and director of another locally-operated and family-owned helicopter company.

“My wife Carol and I are happy to hand on the baton to Nick who we’re sure will continue the good name we’ve strived so long to establish,” he said.

“Nick’s a good kiwi bloke and has a close-knit, talented team including local pilots. They’re specialists in both commercial operations and scenic experiences.

“I’m sure the company will continue as it always has done, offering efficient, high-quality service with safety and professionalism as its highest priority, building on the reputation we’ve established and cherishing our history.”

Sir Richard and Lady Carol Hayes will continue to operate Southern Lakes Helicopters Ltd in Fiordland and the Mount Cook operations.  “We are looking forward to a close working relationship with the new Heliworks team.”

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Fiordland locals encouraged to ‘Host A Holiday’ for friends and family

Fiordland has come up with a unique initiative encouraging locals to invite their friends and family into town, just in time for the September school holidays.

Fiordland has come up with a unique initiative encouraging locals to invite their friends and family into town, just in time for the September school holidays.

Businesses have jumped at the opportunity to be part of ‘Host A Holiday’, providing locals with something free-of-charge if they bring full paying out-of-towners to their business.

Te Anau owner-operator Christine Wallace from Fiordland Outdoors Company, says getting locals out to experience what Fiordland has to offer, and bring all their friends, is a real win for businesses.

“Word of mouth can be very powerful and we’ve got a lot to see and do in Fiordland, still at a really affordable price.”

Christine’s business, which provides guided tours in Fiordland including water transport for the Milford and Kepler tracks, is one of 17 businesses taking part in the initiative including fellow tourism operators, restaurants, cafes, accommodation providers and even the local cinema.

“We want this community to get back on its feet and help itself. If we all work together it’s amazing what we can do, especially given what we’ve been through.

“We’ve got to keep coming up with these unique ideas because we’re in competition with every corner of New Zealand at the moment and we’re putting up our hand and saying ‘here, pick Fiordland for your next holiday’.”

Christine hopes the initiative will have a flow on effect following the school holidays, providing an opportunity to bring old friends and family together in Fiordland all year round.

As a town which relies heavily on tourism, Fiordland has taken a big hit, first with the floods in February this year followed by Covid-19.

Destination Fiordland General Manager Madeleine Peacock says she’s confident the initiative will give this resilient area another boost.

“It’s all about getting in behind our hometowns, we know why Te Anau Fiordland are special. There’s never been a better time for locals to get out and about in their own backyards and we’re asking them to encourage friends from all around New Zealand to get down here while they can have the place to themselves!

“The scenery, the activities, our great food and accommodation and superb locals welcome have never changed, but with borders still closed there’s never been a better time to explore.

“Bring Mum, Dad, the kids and grandparents, we promise they’ll have a superb time.”

Although locals are being invited to ‘host’ their friends and family, it doesn’t mean they have to stay with them. Visitors are being encouraged to stay with local accommodation providers while in the area.

Locals taking part need to provide proof of residence within the Te Anau Basin, Manapouri or Milford Sound regions and are also being asked to write a review, blog or social media post about the business, to help keep the momentum going.

Business providers include Sandfly Café, Fiordland Outdoors Co, Real Journeys, Cruise Milford, Fiordland Jet, Southern Lakes Helicopters, Habit Foods – Bao Now, Southern Discoveries, Fiordland Cinema, Trips and Tramps, Fiordland Helicopters, Redcliff Café, Faith in Fiordland, Go Orange, The Cinema Suites, Cruise Te Anau and Wings and Water- Fiordland Seaplane.

Terms and conditions will apply and may vary between operators. Free trips will be subject to availability and not in conjunction with other offers. Free offers will vary between providers and will depend on the number of visitors locals bring through the doors.


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Beyond Belief – Fiordland targets domestic visitors with call to experience their own backyard

While tourism businesses scramble to adapt to the domestic market in the wake of Covid-19, Fiordland’s regional tourism organisation could argue its one step ahead of them all.

While tourism businesses scramble to adapt to the domestic market in the wake of Covid-19, Fiordland’s regional tourism organisation could argue its one step ahead of them all.

Destination Fiordland has always been justifiably proud of its operators and attractions in the lakeside townships of Te Anau and Manapouri, and the raw majesty of Fiordland National Park’s glacier-carved fiords and rugged mountains.

But with many visitors starting and finishing their Fiordland adventures in Queenstown, making a quick pit-stop in Te Anau, the tourism organisation embarked on a brand refresh in October last year.

The goal? To shout loud and clear from those mountaintops that Fiordland exemplifies all that’s good about New Zealand and is a destination in its own right, where locals value their visitors and ‘walk the talk’ about maintaining the world-class natural environment for generations to come.

The new brand ‘Fiordland – Beyond Belief’ was revealed to operators this week, setting out to target domestic travelers from day one and positioning Te Anau as ‘base camp’, while opening the eyes of international visitors to the fact there’s so much more to Fiordland than Milford Sound.

“The launch of our new brand comes at a challenging time, where fortune favours the bold,” says Destination Fiordland manager Madeleine Peacock. “Our challenge was to find a positioning that reflects all this majesty and helps drive visitation by making Fiordland a unique, inspiring, authentic and unmissable part of Aotearoa New Zealand, a place worth visiting.

“Fiordland is a must-see for international visitors but even last year we could see the untapped potential of domestic visitors. We clearly have a job to do at home, and this is a great start.”

Ms Peacock says ‘Fiordland – Beyond Belief’ conveys the scale, grandeur and mind-blowing nature of the area, and applies to everything on offer from the people who call Fiordland ‘home’  to the quality of experiences, accommodation and food, and a deep sense of connection with the environment .

“Our research has identified Kiwis desire to connect with nature, looking for real world experiences in their backyard, connecting with natural environments and ensuring those environments will be protected for generations to come – it’s about who we are as Kiwis.

“Doubtful and Dusky Sounds, the Great Walks and Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri have to an extent been hiding in the shadow of Milford Sound, however these areas are equally as impressive.”

Kerri James, owner operator of award-winning five-star accommodation provider Radfords On The Lake, says she’s “absolutely delighted” with the new brand.

“People down this way epitomise Southern hospitality, and ‘beyond belief’ is the perfect fit to describe Fiordland and everything we have to offer,” she says.

Fiordland Outdoors owner operator Christine Wallace says the brand is in “perfect synergy” with the high-value experience that Fiordland offers.

“The brand communicates a premium location and offering that’s very much in sync with what we do here. It’s very timely when all regions around New Zealand are being considered by domestic travelers,” she says.

Jodi Williams, Air New Zealand’s General Manager Global Brand and Content Marketing, says Air New Zealand has a special connection with Fiordland through its work with DOC to bring back birdsong on the Great Walks, three of which are located in Fiordland.

“Fiordland Beyond Belief helps position Fiordland as a world-class destination, famous for its majestic scenery, and has inspired me to visit this unique and special part of New Zealand,” she says.

Operators are currently being encouraged to incorporate the ‘Beyond Belief’ brand and associated imagery into their marketing and a new website is expected to launch within the next two months.

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