Queenstown high school students cook up a storm with a fundraising ‘first’

Media Release from Wakatipu High School 40 Hour Famine

A group of young student leaders from Queenstown have cooked up an innovative fundraiser to feed families in need around New Zealand while also raising money for Syrian refugees.

Nineteen students from Wakatipu High School have launched a ‘Cook for a Cause’ concept to make as many meals as possible over a 40-hour time period from June 9 to 11 2017.

The goal is to make 6000 meals which will then be packaged, frozen, and distributed to the respective City Missions of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, as well as Queenstown’s Happiness House.

Members of the public will be asked to donate to the cause, effectively ‘sponsoring’ the students in what is a ‘first’ for the World Vision 40 Hour Famine fundraiser.

The beauty of the idea is that charity starts at home with the meals urgently needed and very much welcomed by the charities within New Zealand. However as major meal components are being donated by New Zealand companies, that means all money raised can be directed to help the millions of Syrian refugees forced to flee their homes in search of safety.

World Vision says the money will help re-establish the basic needs of refugees and supply them with things New Zealand families take for granted, like clean drinking water and a safe place for children to be children.

The student team is “thrilled” with the level of support they’ve had to date from local companies. Working with them is leading chef Mark Gregory, the first New Zealand chef awarded the ‘Master of Culinary Arts’ by the Royal Academy and the French Master Craftsman status. Now a culinary consultant and director for leading companies, he is a founding trustee of DineAid, the charity for the New Zealand restaurant industry.

As well as being a guiding hand over the 40-hour weekend, he has provided them with their three meal options — Shepherd’s Pie, Thai Chicken and Coconut Rice and Spiced Apple cake.

Silver Fern Farms has donated 400kg of beef to the ‘Cook for a Cause’, apples have been donated locally and Wholesale Foodservice Distributors Bidfood Queenstown is supplying ingredients.

NZSki’s Coronet Peak ski area is supporting Cook for a Cause by donating the use of its industrial kitchen on the mountain and some staff, as the students prepare, cook and package the meals over the 40-hour weekend.

All containers and packaging has come from Packaging Plus, and transport company Big Chill has pledged to chill and deliver the meals all around the country.

Harley Hamilton, the Christchurch-based Senior Schools Partnership Manager for World Vision who is working with the students, said he wanted to stress how “grateful, inspired and impressed” he was with everyone involved.

“From the initial blue sky ambitions back in December, to the work that has gone in behind the scenes from students Beatrice Onions, Hugh Taylor and Zed Moore, teacher Penny Hearn and the rest of the leadership team, to all of the community support and involvement – it’s insane!”

“I’ve worked with schools for three years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Wellington City Mission Foodbank and Volunteer Co-Ordinator Louise Mearns said the charity was equally impressed.

“We’re so impressed by the project these young student leaders have come up with to help combat food poverty in New Zealand. The food they’re providing will be used in our Drop-in Centre kitchen to serve meals to our community, and distributed to individuals via our Foodbank service,” she said.

“We’re very grateful for this amazing contribution.”

A Facebook page set up by the students to publicise their efforts goes live today (Thursday May 18) and links to the Wakatipu High School World Vision Cook for a Cause fundraising page.

The World Vision 40 Hour Famine is New Zealand’s largest youth fundraising event, attracting each year more than 90,000 young Kiwis to participate.

The situation in Syria is described as the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time. Over six years, fighting in Syria has reportedly killed as many as 400,000 people, including nearly 14,000 children. Nearly five million people have fled the country and 6.1 million are displaced in Syria. In the past year, hundreds of thousands have fled to Europe to seek safety. More than half of those affected are children – more than the entire population of New Zealand.

Money raised from the campaign will be used to fund World Vision’s child-friendly spaces in Jordan. They’re safe, supportive learning environments where children have access to arts, sports, education and counselling, enabling them to be kids again.

Photo caption:

1/ Wakatipu High School student team leaders with Harley Hamilton from World Vision (L to R) Hugh Taylor, Harley Hamilton, Beatrice Onions, Zed Moore

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Eagerly-awaited Crowne Plaza Christchurch launches this year

Media release from Crowne Plaza Christchurch

The eagerly-awaited Crowne Plaza Christchurch will feature 204 spacious and modern rooms, a new café, bar and restaurant and four modern and versatile event and conferencing spaces when it opens mid-year.

Rising above the Christchurch cityscape, it will be the largest upscale hotel in the Christchurch CBD. Situated at the corner of Colombo and Armagh streets overlooking Victoria Square, its central location means guests can truly connect with the city.

Within two minutes’ walk from the hotel you can be exploring the many cafés and boutiques of New Regent Street, strolling through Cathedral Square, taking in the latest Arts Centre exhibition, shopping in the new city centre or visiting the Christchurch Casino.

The hotel rooms, including eight suites, enjoy unique views to the city, coast, hills and Southern Alps, with features in each room designed to make the most of the scenery.

A comfy window seat with cushions invites guests to sit back and relax with a book and a freshly-brewed T2 tea, while thanks to a glass panel between the bathroom and bedroom in some rooms, guests can even soak up the view from the shower.

Guests are guaranteed a peaceful night’s sleep with new beds in comfortable ‘zen-like’ rooms and a range of Executive, Deluxe and Superior configurations. With leisure travellers in mind, the hotel also offers extra spaces to relax such as the hotel library, or guests can stay active in the brand-new fitness centre.

The hotel hasn’t scrimped on technology that really works — staying connected to the outside world is easy with unlimited free WiFi and Samsung Smart TV’s complete with Bluetooth connectivity and wireless mobile device mirroring. Several USB ports throughout the room mean guests can easily recharge devices.

The new hotel also features the 80-seat Market Place restaurant and bar, it’s ground-floor Café 1851, and the upmarket Social Wine Bar.

Swiss-born head chef Mirco Turtschi brings to the table a wealth of experience from hotels and restaurants in Switzerland and New Zealand, and said his vision for the restaurant, café and bar was to capture a diverse audience at different times of the day and become known as a popular dining hub for locals and visitors.

“We’re aiming to appeal to everyone, keeping good old-fashioned favourites that are generous in portion but reasonable in price, while offering health conscious guests some lighter options,” said Chef Mirco.

Market Place restaurant and bar takes inspiration from the local markets which once thrived just metres away in Victoria Square. Featuring an interactive marketplace dining concept, diners will be encouraged to pick and choose from a range of dishes, showcasing the best local produce the city has to offer.

There will be a live cooking station where guests can choose from a selection of meat, fish or seafood each evening, cooked to order just how they like it.

Café 1851 is set to delight tastebuds and give friends, locals and families a place to connect in a contemporary environment. Serving expertly brewed Mojo coffee, T2 tea, fresh juices and smoothies, pastries, cakes, sandwiches and salads, the light-filled café features clean lines and Scandinavian-inspired décor.

Social Wine Bar will be the place for get-togethers and drinks over shared plates, an extensive wine list and a selection of NZ craft beers, an “elegant and comfortable” space with a cosy fireplace.

General Manager Reinier Eulink said he could not wait to open the doors to the hotel’s first guests.

“We know it will be a hub for leisure and business travellers and a meeting place in the heart of the city for our wider community,” he said.

The 4.5-star hotel is part of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG).  With the opening of the new hotel, IHG will operate six properties in New Zealand including Crowne Plaza hotels in Auckland, Queenstown and Christchurch, two Holiday Inn properties in Rotorua and at Auckland Airport, and the InterContinental Wellington.

Click here to visit Crown Plaza Christchurch’s website

Picture caption:

1/ Cool, clean lines at Café 1851 at Crowne Plaza Christchurch


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Star gazing tours and new pools are ‘hot’ attractions at Tekapo Springs

Media Release from Tekapo Springs

The introduction of star gazing tours married with the launch of new pools have put Tekapo Springs firmly on the global tourism map.

Star gazing tours in one of the world’s top ‘clear sky’ locations was launched by Tekapo Springs in New Zealand’s Mackenzie country just two months ago, taking viewing the Southern night sky to whole new levels.

Development of stargazing tours followed on from a multi-million-dollar investment into two new pools and an aqua play area at the complex, bringing the total number of pools to five.

Both investments have ensured the multi-award-winning South Island tourism attraction, renowned for its innovation and continued business developments, continues to be at the forefront of ‘must-do’ activities for visitors.

Tekapo Springs owner Karl Burtscher said Tekapo Star Gazing had been “extremely well received” by international and domestic visitors as it combined the top two attractions in Tekapo.

The tours take advantage of the fact that the tiny township of Tekapo sits within the world’s largest international dark sky reserve (4144sq km), only the fourth such reserve in the world.

They incorporate a 40-minute guided night sky tour with trained star guides followed by a 40-minute soak in the hot pools. Guides continue to give information, answer questions and ‘story tell’ on request, while guests chill out to relaxing astro music. Guests can also get closer to the stars and planets by looking through one of three powerful telescopes installed at the pools.

“Developing a product that marries our beautiful Southern night sky with a visit to the relaxing Hot Pools makes for an exceptional experience,” said Mr Burtscher.

“Visitors have called it an ‘out of this world experience’ or said they felt like they were floating in space, and our guides have been praised for being so knowledgeable about some of the closest and brightest features in the night sky such as stars, planets, constellations, and galaxies.”

Mr Burtscher said bookings were highly recommended as some tours were booked out well in advance.

“Even if the weather’s not perfect for star gazing, our guides provide an indoor audio visual about the night sky using the same content, with a high definition projector screen and astro photos and videos,” he said.

“It makes the tour an all-weather attraction, and we even have a cosy open fire to warm up the night too!”

The tours will operate on a winter schedule until October 31 with tours departing seven nights a week at 9.30pm (Mandarin-speaking), 10.30pm (English tour) and 11.30pm (both languages). The latest tour will also cater for visitors who like astro-photography.

From November 1 tour times change to 10.30pm, 11.30pm and 12.30am.

Last year Tekapo Springs also officially launched its new pools to great acclaim, proving “hugely popular” with visitors and locals and resulting in a significant increase in visitor numbers.

“We now have two busy seasons both summer and winter,” said Mr Burtscher.

“The pools are popular throughout the year, perfect for visitors in summer who want to relax while enjoying views of the lake and surrounding mountains, while in winter they’re a magical escape for visitors day or night.

“We just keep adding more and more reasons to visit Tekapo Springs including our winter ice skating rink, winter snow tubing and a huge inflatable summer waterslide.”

Tekapo Springs is a year-round attraction nestled on the shores of stunning Lake Tekapo, beloved by visitors from all around the globe and winner of multiple tourism awards. The new pool additions – themed ‘High Country Tarns’, each with its own distinctive shade of aqua green – are part of Tekapo Springs’ long-term growth strategy for expanding its aquatic attractions and offering a wider range of water temperatures and features.

Click here to visit Tekapo Springs’ website.

Picture caption:

1/ A stunning display of stars and constellations lights up the night sky for Tekapo Star Gazing at Tekapo Springs

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Original zipline company Ziptrek Ecotours tells the story of New Zealand with tourism partners

Media Release from Ziptrek Ecotours

Multi-award-winning zipline company Ziptrek Ecotours is showcasing its new partnerships to more than 370 of the world’s leading travel buyers at New Zealand’s biggest international tourism event.

Still flying high after seven successful years in business, and a recognised leader in zipline innovation and sustainable business practice, Ziptrek Ecotours sought out equally environmentally-conscious businesses for its latest combos.

As a result, they now offer the ultimate air, water and land-based packages for visitors to Queenstown, ensuring eco-credentials translate to positive experiences for visitors and locals. The three combos were all individually chosen for what they would add in value and experiences for guests.

The hugely popular Zip & Wilderness combo neatly packages up a Ziptrek Adventure, soaring to new heights ‘zipping’ through the trees above Queenstown, with a Dart River Wilderness Jet journey from Glenorchy at the head of Lake Wakatipu deep into Te Waipounamu World Heritage area of Mt Aspiring National Park.

Both experiences offer a unique combination of breathtaking scenery and exhilaration, and Ziptrek Ecotours is “delighted” to be working with Dart River thanks to a shared passion for environmental sustainability and protection.

Dart River Business Manager Harald Ulriksen said they were delighted to be working with Ziptrek.

“Both experiences have a natural affinity with nature and our environment,” he said.

The Zip & Kiwi combo combines a Ziptrek tour of the visitor’s choice with entry to the Kiwi Birdlife Park just a short walk from the zipline base. The combo with the park, which has over five acres of forest sanctuary, has proved extremely popular as it “tells the story of New Zealand”.

Ziptrek Ecotours already has a close relationship with the park since sponsoring a brand-new reptile wing to house its collection of rare and endangered wildlife, in particular tuatara and critically-endangered Otago and Grand skinks.

“This is a great example of us working with other businesses to help tell the New Zealand story,” said Ziptrek Ecotours Executive Director Trent Yeo.

“There’s continued interest in eco-tourism and we aim to be at the forefront of that, gaining the type of visitor who wants to see and experience the ‘real’ New Zealand and not just go shopping!”

That philosophy also sits well with the company’s third combo on offer – Zip & Ride. The combo is the perfect choice for those wishing to explore the region by air and land. After being taken to new heights with a gravity-driven Ziptrek Moa or Kea tour, guests can take to ‘pedal power’ with Around the Basin to discover parts of the region unreachable by car, meandering past lakes, rivers, the historic village of Arrowtown or through stunning wineries.

At last year’s TRENZ, Ziptrek used world-leading virtual reality video technology to bring its exhilarating zipline tour to buyers, a move that proved “hugely popular”.

Buyers were able to immerse themselves in the world of Ziptrek by donning the latest Samsung VR headset which literally ‘put’ the buyer on the company’s framed treehouses, zipping downhill and able to look around them at the stunning views as they did so.

“It was incredibly successful at getting people to feel what it is like to fly through the trees and see the majesty of our tree architecture in context,” said Mr Yeo.

“We’ve continued to use the headsets for overseas sales trips, as a tool for staff training and even in our Queenstown store to give people a ‘taste’ of the trip before booking. Watch this space for more!”

Leading the way in zipline innovation and sustainable business practice, Ziptrek Ecotours launched in New Zealand in November 2009 and since then has completed nearly three-quarters of a million zips through the forest canopy on ‘gravity fed ziplines’.

Click here to visit Ziptrek Ecotours’ website.

Picture caption:

1/ A Dart River Wilderness Jet journey is part of a popular Zip & Wilderness combo with Ziptrek Ecotours


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