August 29, 2008

Kia Ora !*FIRSTNAME*!,

ITOC conference

DRTM GM Don Gunn was in Queenstown last week at the “well attended” Inbound Tour Operators’ Council (ITOC) conference, August 19-21. He said two of the main thrusts of the conference were market updates from TNZ and also the launch of TNZ’s UK campaign entitled ‘What do you say UK?’ (see item in News and Views section). DRTM’s bid for Rotorua to host the 2009 ITOC conference wasn’t successful. Don said that despite a strong presentation, which saw some of Rotorua’s senior tourism folk dressed up and acting a bit crazy for the sake of bringing the prestigious conference to Rotorua, Gisborne got the vote from the delegates attending this year’s conference. Don said “Our presentation by Haydn Marriner and Jason Baker was brilliant, but Gisborne is seen as a new option as it hasn’t hosted an ITOC conference before.” Don also attended an RTONZ trustees meeting in Queenstown prior to the start of conference.

Hades goes to Hell

After 19 months as DRTM’s International Co-ordinator selling Rotorua, Haydn Marriner is leaving us to take up a more specific sales position focussing on Hells Gate and Wai Ora Experience products. Haydn replaces Patrick Tamati at Hells Gate who returned to Te Puia as their Sales Manager on August 18 after almost four years at Hells Gate. Interviews have been undertaken and the announcement of Haydn’s replacement is expected soon. All the best, Hades.

New ‘talent’ needed

DRTM have launched a quest to find the new faces of Rotorua. With 39 photo shoots requiring 66 models in the past 14 months Communications Manager Jill Marshall says she is fast running out of options using her network of family, friends, staff and industry colleagues to source likely “models”. She is keen for the office to cast their net wider to find talent to appear in upcoming television commercials as well as in things like print advertising, banners, posters and billboards. Working in conjunction with the Daily Post, DRTM are asking the readers of the local daily to be part of the process by submitting photos of themselves and their families for consideration. Contact if you are interested in helping out. 

Mapping success

DRTM’s new advertising-free Rotorua Visitor Map is now available for download on the website, while the printed version will be available next week. With clearly marked routes and event locations, one of the main aims of the new resource is to provide a useful tool for event organisers. The new full colour A3 map (folding down to a DLE size) features a CDB map, a wider city map and a lakes map. It shows key Rotorua locations like the Convention Centre, Energy Events Centre, Government Gardens, the Lakefront, the Village Green, Arawa Park, International Stadium and Whakarewarewa Forest. Other useful information includes travelling times and distances to key routes as well as the site of the local motorhome dump station, the local recycling point, the i-SITE information centre, bus depots and taxi stands. It replaces a basic CBD map on the website that, despite its limitations, was still one of the site’s most popular downloads.

One of the best

A request by an Australian woman for information on Rotorua brought this great feedback about our website. Bethy Glover from Perth emailed the Tourism Rotorua Travel Centre and Information office earlier this month requesting brochures and information to assist in planning a trip to Rotorua this summer. After actioning the request, the i-SITE consultant suggested that in the meantime Bethy was welcome to look at our website. She did and her response was very favourable. “I had a look at your website It is a fantastic site. Really easy to use and full of information. I was on it for hours!! It’s one of the best tourism sites I have visited.”  Thanks Bethy, we hope you enjoy your visit.

Traffic increase all good 

The past month (July 25 to August 25) has seen significant increases in visits to compared to the previous month (June 25 to July 25). The stats show a 39.05% increase in unique user visits, a 31.63% increase in visits and an 8.61% increase in new visits. Pageviews increased by 3.44% (from 234,367 to 226,577). In comparison to other vacation destinations sites of similar size is viewed 598% more often than other sites.

A word from our web developer 

Those of you who indicated that you wish to have premium listings on DRTM’s foreign language sites need to get your updated content and imagery to Web Co-ordinator Adrian Hodge . The sooner you can get all the content to Adrian the sooner we can update the foreign sites with the new translations. We also have had a lot of interest in our new option of adding operator videos to premium web listings and 10 are already in place. For just $50 plus GST for a 30 second clip for the entire year, it's really an inexpensive way of showcasing your product. Take a look at these ones in the adventure area of
NB Adrian is still waiting on some operators to supply their footage. 

Change and track

Adrian has also been busy putting the final touches to our new secure operator area. This means operators wishing to take a more pro-active approach in keeping their listing up-to-date will be able to login and update content, imagery and contact details of their own premium listing. Once signed in, operators can also request monthly traffic stats in regard to their own listings via our Google Analytics. To request operator admin access, email

Offer on banner ads

Take advantage of high traffic (we rank fourth highest out of 29 RTOs) and drive quality leads to your website or web listing by purchasing  banner advert within your specialised area (e.g. fishing, B & B, adventure, transport etc) from as little as $40 plus GST per month. As this is a new option we are extending our introductory special until the end of September; purchase one month and get the second consecutive month free. Lebua Lake Okareka Lodge were among the first to take up this offer and their banner ad in the luxury lodges category has already increased traffic to their website by almost 25%. View the ads.
and find out more about the video and banner ad specifications and guidelines.

Rotorua holiday home survey 

The Rotorua District has always been a popular choice of holiday home location, due to its abundance of natural resources that facilitate outdoor activities. With the increased focus on creating more opportunities for international visitors to become involved in the New Zealand lifestyle and the growing availability of distribution channels for short-term rental of holiday homes, DRTM commissioned APR Consultants to analyse visitor activity associated with holiday home use in the Rotorua district. Some of the key findings from the survey were that there are an estimated 1800 holiday homes in the Rotorua district, of which 70% are located in the vicinity of Lake Tarawera, Lake Rotoiti, Okere Falls or Lake Rotoma. Almost 60% of them were described by their owners as typical Kiwi baches. Holiday homes in the Rotorua district have an estimated collective daily capacity of 15,290 occupants; an average of three bedrooms and bedding for eight occupants per holiday home. Approximately 500 holiday homes had been rented out short-term at least once during the previous year, which resulted in approximately 21% of visitor nights spent in Rotorua's holiday homes being attributable to short-term rentals of holiday homes. Holiday home owners typically used more than one short-term rental distribution channel with ‘word of mouth’ being the most popular (62% of respondents), holiday home specific websites the next most popular choice (45% of respondents) and all other channels having fewer than 15% of responses each. Click here to view the summary results.

What do you say UK?

TNZ’s largest ever tourism campaign is to be launched in the United Kingdom this week. Hitting UK television screens from September 7, the $7.3m campaign is based on research that shows that Brits are most likely to make their travel decisions based on talking to other Brits, so for two weeks in July British travellers were filmed at popular New Zealand tourist destinations. The footage has been used as the basis for eight 40-second television commercials with the travellers talking about their New Zealand holiday with the tagline ‘What do you say UK?’ There will also be online activity. TNZ Chief Executive George Hickton says the campaign is designed to give immediacy and urgency to the idea of coming to New Zealand rather than the current perception of a ‘nice to do one day’. He said “While the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign has helped New Zealand stay a very aspirational holiday for the British, the new campaign will give consumers a reason to come now.” says George Hickton. The UK is New Zealand’s second largest tourist market with over 290,000 visitor arrivals in the year to June 2008.

Roll up, roll up

Rotorua will be rolling out the welcome map for Indo Pacific Trampoline and Tumbling Championships in October. As a lead up to the major event, Rotorua’s Mid Island Gym Sports club will attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for forward rolls on September 16. Being held at the Energy Events Centre, the record attempt is based on the distance covered forward rolling by a team of no more than 12 people. Each participant must complete a pre-determined length of a measured circuit before handing over to the next. The Indo Pacific Trampoline and Tumbling Championships, being held at the Energy Events Centre, October 15-19, will include four separate, extreme sports: synchronised trampoline, double mini-trampoline, individual trampoline and tumbling.

Rural institution

Keep an eye out for New Zealand Caterpillar Experience on TV’s Country Calendar soon. The founder of the Cat Experience, Lindsay Willis, is due to appear on the iconic rural programme on TV1 on Saturday, September 13, at 7.30pm. Although the programme is focused on Lindsay it will have a segment on Cat Experience. According to Karen Ryan, Marketing Co-ordinator for NZ Caterpillar Experience, the producer is really pleased with the result of the local filming so she is hopeful the business will benefit from the exposure.

Retail crime prevention forum

A crime prevention forum for local retailers and businesses has been organised by the Rotorua Police in conjunction with Destination Rotorua Economic Development. Next month’s Business Crime Prevention Night Forum will cover the roll out of the PPINS email intelligence notification system to the retail sector as well as presenting new information on theft, robbery and trespass.
Organisers say it will be an opportunity to hear innovative ideas and new methods from the police to assist in lowering petty crime and theft, and ways to protect yourself, your staff and your business. There will also be opportunities for attendees to ask questions. Register for the Business Crime Prevention Forum being held at the Convention Centre at 7.30pm on Wednesday, September 10, online at or or by telephoning 350 0196. Admission is free.

Conservation Week

The theme for this year’s Conservation Week, September 6-14, is Meet the Locals. The Department of Conservation has organised a number of activities in the Rotorua region that encourages people to learn about the natural landscapes, native species, people and historical places that make this region unique. Among the no or low cost activities available will be a Fitzgerald Glade field trip (Sept 7), Rainbow Springs guided night walks (Sept 7 & 9), Kiwi educational talk (Sept 8), Plants in our Lakes (Sept 9), Early bird walks (Sept 9, 10, 11 &12), Kea talk (Sept 9, 10 & 11), Redwoods glow worm expeditions (Sept 8, 10 & 11), Okareka guided walk (Sept 12), Blue Lake guided kayak trip (Sept 13) and Mt Ngongotaha bird watching (Sept 14). Go to the Bay of Plenty Conservation Week activities on DOC’s website for full programme details.

Honour for local treasure  

Delighted to see that one of Rotorua’s most precious taonga (treasures), Don Stafford, is to be honoured by having a wing at the Rotorua Museum named after him. The 80-year-old former curator (1967-1970) and noted historian admits to being “tremendously flattered” that the south wing of the museum, being extended next year as part of the building’s centennial redevelopment, will be known as the Don Stafford Wing. Director Greg McManus said “Don Stafford made a crucial contribution to the establishment of the Rotorua Museum . . . I cannot think of a more worthy person.”

Display reflects hospital’s rich past

Queen Elizabeth Hospital (now QE Health) has built up an almost iconic status throughout New Zealand over the past 65 years. A recently opened historical display, entitled ‘A Place of Kindness’, recalls much of the rich and varied history. The display includes a host of restored photographs reflecting things like returned servicemen enjoying happier and healthier times at the hospital, trips out on the hospital’s launches to fish for trout and a young couple whose romance blossomed after meeting at the hospital. The imagery is supported by anecdotes gathered from former patients and staff. The public are welcome to view the display at QE Health during opening hours. The official opening of ‘A Place of Kindness’ marks the beginning of an important historical project for this well-known institution. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Community Trust has recognised the need to document the story of the hospital before its rich history and medical treatment is lost. In undertaking the project, the Trust seeks to educate, inform and entertain the wider population of New Zealand. Pictured: Mr and Mrs Pennell pose in front of one the display photos - themselves 62 years ago.

Support good wing work

Westie comedian Ewen Gilmour will be the celebrity speaker/MC/auctioneer at a fundraising celebration dinner being held at Skyline Skyrides on October 18 in support of The Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust. The dinner marks Wingspan’s 15 years of operation as a registered charitable trust and the fifth year since opening to the public. In that time more than 500 of New Zealand’s endangered raptors have been through the Paradise Valley research and rehabilitation centre. Tickets, $105, include complimentary wine on arrival, dinner, gondola and luge rides, entertainment by Ewen as well as A Taste of Irish band and the ability to join in the fund-raising auction. Auction items include genuine antiques, collectable artwork, signed Hillary notes, autographed books, and other special items (even a reconstructed extinct New Zealand huia). Email for tickets or further information.

Train for lake loop

Entries have opened for the 5th Hotel Ibis Bike the Lake event being held in Rotorua on November 9. Last year the event, which is either one (42km) or two (84km) laps of the lake, attracted almost 1500 competitors. Organiser Phil Clode is expecting the fifth anniversary event will appeal to more cyclists this year and is hoping for 2000 competitors. He reckons with $120,000 worth of prizes and giveaways as well as a cash prize for the open division winner “it’s definitely well worth entering”.

New initiative by holiday parks

Take a look at the new Rotorua Holiday Parks group’s new website The new site is a marketing initiative of nine individually owned and operated local holiday parks: All Seasons Holiday Park, Blue Lake Top 10 Holiday Park, Cosy Cottage Holiday Park, Holden’s Bay Top 10 Holiday Park, Redwood Holiday Park, Rotorua Family Holiday Park, Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park, Rotorua Top 10 Holiday Park and Waiteti Trout Stream Holiday Park. Michael Thorne of Waiteti Trout Stream Holiday Park, who is secretary of the Holiday Parks Association of New Zealand - Rotorua Area, says the aim of the new combined website is to “encourage people to visit Rotorua and stay longer to experience its unique attractions and rich Maori culture – and of course choose a holiday park as their accommodation provider”. He goes on to say holiday parks, New Zealand’s third largest accommodation sector, grew at a faster rate than the average for commercial accommodation in the period ended June 2008.

Tourism sustainability seminar

The NZ Tourism Strategy 2015 says “The best kind of tourism for NZ is sustainable tourism” so with this in mind a tourism sustainability seminar is being held in Rotorua next month. An increasing number of business operators are asking about the relationship between Qualmark, Green Globe and the Charter, particularly in light of Qualmark’s new environmental criteria. A joint symposium with representatives from the three organisations has been organised to answer this question. This opportunity will enable businesses to understand the benefits of how sustainability affects their tourism business and the merits of each sustainability programme. It’s being held on Wednesday, September 17, between 2pm and 4pm at the Novotel Lakeside Rotorua’s Matariki venue. RSVP to by September 11

Major win for rural icon

Congratulations to the Agrodome who were named as the major category winner in the Visitor Activities and Attractions section during the 2008 Tourism Industry Awards New Zealand held in Christchurch on August 5. The popular attraction was also a runner up for the Supreme Award. Managing director Warren Harford is delighted with the win. “It’s fantastic that after 37 years of operation the Agrodome is still a leading player in New Zealand tourism.” Two other Rotorua tourism businesses were among the 29 finalists in the national awards; Rainbow Springs Nature Park and Kiwi Encounter were finalists in both the Visitor Attraction and Conservation in Action categories while NZ Riverjet were finalists in the Small Tourism Operator category. Neighbouring tourism operator White Island Tours, based in Whakatane, took out the Leisure Activity section of the Visitor Activities and Attractions category.

Among world’s best wild rides

Zorb’s revolutionary adventure experience at Rotorua has been voted the world’s fifth-best ‘wild ride’ on Dedicated to providing helpful advice for tourists and travellers, the website asked users to vote on ‘modes of transport with a difference’ to come up with the world’s top 10 wild rides. The Zorb experience was the only ‘wild ride’ to feature from New Zealand - coming out ahead of camel riding in Egypt, dog sledging in Switzerland, a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and a Barbados submarine trip. Kelly Hemana of Zorb Rotorua reckons that being voted in the world’s top five wild rides helps to maintain the Kiwi adventure tourism industry's reputation of crazy but safe experiences. He said “Our customers just love Kiwi-style bungy jumping, white water rafting, jet boating etc. To have our customers vote for us says everything that we could say about the Zorb experience.” Zorb have recently opened a site at Pigeon Forge in Tennessee to satisfy US travellers’ thirst for adrenalin while giving them a taste of New Zealand.

Training crucial to success

Skyline Enterprises Ltd., parent company to Skyline Skyrides, has been recognised once again for its commitment to training with an ATTTO Achievement Award for Excellence in Workplace Training. Skyline Skyrides GM Neville Nicholson accepted the workplace training award at the NZ Tourism Industry conference in Christchurch earlier this month. Skyline Skyrides’ Human Resources and Quality Manager Haley Murray says she never known a company to be more focused on training. She says the majority of staff are involved in some type of training on a daily basis, making the culture of ongoing training and development synonymous with the Skyline brand. “Skyline is a forward-thinking company in terms of training and that shows through the awards we’ve won,” said Haley.

Praise from Lonely Planet

New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination is how the latest edition of Lonely Planet’s New Zealand guidebook describes Rotorua. Released on August 19, the new edition of the famous guide lavishes praise on Rotorua. It says “Here the daily business of life goes on among steaming hot springs, explosive geysers, bubbling mud pools, and the clouds of sulphurous gas responsible for its unique eggy smell. Breathe in the sulphur-rich air of Rotorua and you’ve already got a taste of NZ’s most dynamic thermal area with spurting geysers, steaming hot springs and exploding mud pools. The Maori revered this place, naming one of the most spectacular springs Wai-O-Tapu (Sacred Waters).” Rotorua also featured highly in the Bay of Plenty highlights section; hangi and concerts at Tamaki and Mitai Maori villages, the kaleidoscopic colours at Wai-O-Tapu, mountain biking in the Whakarewarewa Forest and flying to the active marine volcano of White Island making the list. It also rated Whakarewarewa Thermal Village as one of New Zealand’s top 10 Maori cultural experiences. Lonely Planet’s team of five expert authors (mostly New Zealanders) spent six months on the road researching the guidebook.

Customers love them

Great going for Best Western Braeside Resort who are the inaugural winners of the Best Western Excellence Award for Australasia. Karen Konig, who along with her husband Karl manages the Barnard Road property, says the first-time award was based on the results of a Medallia online guest satisfaction questionnaire. They got the award ahead of every other Best Western property in Australasia for having the most positive guest comments. Karen says having friendly, helpful and positive staff is a huge asset. It seems fitting that a New Zealand property won as it was the first time the annual Best Western (Australasia) conference had been held in New Zealand.

Sam’s the man

DRTM are among the thousands of locals offering their congratulations to local cyclist Sam Bewley on his Olympic bronze medal win in the Team Pursuit cycling at the Beijing 2008 Olympics last week. This photograph of 18-year-old Sam, then a Rotorua Boys’ High School student, was taken by New Plymouth photographer Rob Tucker in 2005 as part of a joint venture book with DRTM entitled ‘Images of Nation: Rotorua’ where we helped identify possible subjects. Sam was welcomed back to Rotorua with a mayoral reception including a powhiri at the Rotorua District Council last night. Another RBHS old boy making sporting history in the past week is golfer Danny Lee. The South Korean born 18-old-year is the youngest person ever to win the US Amateur Golf Championship tournament beating even the illustrious Tiger Woods by almost seven months. Danny’s next ‘big’ event will be attending a ceremony in Rotorua early next month when he officially becomes a New Zealand citizen after nine years of living here.

And she’s our girl

Well done to Rotorua mountain bikers Annika Smail and Garth Weinberg with their placings at the 2008 World Singlespeed Championships held in Napa California earlier this week. Annika, the girl featured in our icon ‘Challenge your Spirit’ image (pictured), finished second female while Garth was 16th male in the very competitive fields. Garth and Annika won their spots at the world champs by being the inaugural men’s and women’s open winners of the New Zealand singlespeed champs held in Rotorua over Anzac weekend.    

More medals for locals

Congratulations to Rotorua photographers Graeme Murray and Craig Robertson, who both did well in the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography’s
Epson/NZIPP Iris Professional Photography Awards 2008. Graeme entered six photographs and won an impressive five awards; two silvers (in the commercial and editorial/illustrative categories) and three bronzes (one in the landscape category and two in the editorial/illustrative category). Craig notched up five bronze awards from his six entries in the commercial and landscape categories. This year’s awards, announced in Tauranga on Tuesday, attracted 1100 entries with just 14 golds awarded. Both Graeme (who took this winning photograph of Skyline Skyrides bottom terminal) and Craig (who took this wining C & I photograph in the Energy Events Centre) are among the professional photographers used by DRTM.

Te Po new for Puia

Te Puia is about to launch a new evening experience, Te Po (the night), and it is one which Chief Executive Te Taru White promises to be an immersive feast of indigenous cultural storytelling, entertainment and food. He adds “It is an opportunity for local and international visitors to feel the special character of the Whakarewarewa Valley at night, to celebrate the stories of our heritage and to experience the many Maori delicacies on offer.” Opening on September 18, visitors will be welcomed onto Te Puia’s traditional marae through the customary powhiri (welcome) process. Following entertainment by a world-class Maori performance group, visitors will then have a chance to interact with local experts in time honoured disciplines including Maori weaponry, song and taonga puoro (musical instrument playing). Te Taru says while hangi food is still an integral component of the food experience, guest will also be offered an extensive range of other delicacies. After dining guests will be ferried down into the valley to see world famous Pohutu Geyser. The new night option will be available every day of the year starting at 6.15pm. A Te Po combo including visits to the carving and weaving schools and interpretive galleries as well as the evening experience will start at 4.30pm daily.

First arrival of season

The first chick of what is expected to be a “very busy kiwi hatching season” was born at Kiwi Encounter last Monday, August 18. Weighing in at 364.3g, the kiwi chick, temporarily named Om.Pi5, had an easy entrance into the world and at 48 hours old was already in adult feeding mode actively probing its incubator flooring with a tiny pink beak. Kiwi Encounter’s major sponsors Newsmans/InterCity were given the honour of naming the first arrival so Om.Pi5 is now Newman. Newman’s egg came from the Omataroa region within the Department of Conservation’s Ohope conservancy. The early start to the season (around two weeks ahead of normal) is expected to mean the 2008/09 hatching season will be a good one for the kiwi conservation in action facility that’s part of Rainbow Springs Nature Park. Sponsorship and Promotions Co-ordinator Toni Thompson say they already have 12 eggs in incubation.

From lake to rain forest

After four and half years with Duxton Hotels, most recently as GM of Duxton Rotorua and Auckland, Richard de Graaf is off to the West Coast. He has taken up a role as Area Manager West Coast for Scenic Circle Hotels based in Franz Josef. He will be overseeing all the current hotels on the coast as well as the opening of the 5-star Rainforest Hotel in Franz Josef village. Construction of the new 100 room hotel began in February this year.

Back for more

Jill Harrison rejoined MCK Hotels as Sales Manager for the Millennium Rotorua and Kingsgate Rotorua in July. Jill has a 12 year history with the Millennium, starting out waitressing and moving through the ranks into reception. She was formerly Rooms Division Manager at the Millennium Rotorua for three years before taking a break from the hospitality industry and says she has returned refreshed and ready for a new challenge. She replaced Brett Jeffery who joined Events and Venues as their Sales and Marketing Manager in April. 

Focussing on educating

The Rotorua Education Network has appointed Vanessa Eparaima as their new Marketing Co-ordinator. The Rotorua Education Network provides information on relevant tourism operators and other educational resources to meet the curriculum needs of teachers and students. Formerly CE at (what was then) Whaka Village Tours, Ness replaces Janelle Vala who resigned to have her second child in May.

Putting a spin on marketing role

Out at Zorb Jane Roberts has taken over the role of Marketing Co-ordinator. Her contact is

Xterra Trail Run No.2
Off road running series with 10km, half and full marathon distances, Blue Lake Reserve
September 7

BOP Steamers versus Auckland rugby match
Air New Zealand Cup competition
Rotorua International Stadium
September 12

Red Stag Redwood Forest Relay
Forest relay run, Long Mile Road, Whakarewarewa Forest
September 13

World Record Tumbling Attempt 
Local gymnasts are attempting to break the Guinness world record for distance travelled by forward rolling, Rotorua Energy Events Centre
September 16

North Island Interclub Duathlon Champs
Challenging off road run and road ride, Waipa MTB carpark
September 20

For more information and a comprehensive list of events check out

We have collected your contact details. This information is collected to enable us to keep you up to date with tourism news pertinent to the Rotorua tourism market and keep you informed of the activities of the Destination Rotorua Marketing office. We will not disclose your contact details to third parties.


Jill Marshall
Communications Manager
Destination Rotorua Marketing
Private Bag 3007, Rotorua
Phone +64 7 349 7285
Fax +64 7 349 4133