January 30, 2009

Kia Ora !*FIRSTNAME*!,

Capturing ‘Spirit of Rotorua’

DRTM has been instrumental in organising the inaugural Spirit of Rotorua photography competition and exhibition that is part of this year’s Te Ihi Te Wehi Arts Festival, March 6-21. Working in conjunction with the Rotorua Camera Club and RAVE, DRTM launched the new photo competition earlier this month. The new initiative come about after the chairman of Destination Rotorua Tourism Board, Warren Harford, saw the results a similar competition run by Fiordland Destination and considered the idea worth replicating in Rotorua. Communications Manager Jill Marshall has played a key role in organising the new competition. She says “We see it as an opportunity to get a new community arts event off the ground as well as a way of bringing previously unseen local talent into the public arena. We believe the 14 categories we have created for the competition will offer a true reflection of our community and what we’re about.” Click here for competition categories, prize-list, entry forms and conditions of entry information. rotoruaNZ.com/photocompetition

New collateral

The 2009 Rotorua Visitor Guide, printed and out in the marketplace just prior to Christmas, has already had in excess of 500 downloads from rotoruaNZ.com. The 2009 Rotorua Meeting Planner was launched at a C & I Rotorua networking function held in Wellington earlier this week, and is now available as a download from the website. The domestic and international mail-out of the Summer 2009 edition of In Essence, delivered on January 9, is now complete. Missed out? Hard copies are available from the DRTM office or download from the website. rotoruaNZ.com

Be seen, but be sure it’s Rotorua

The ‘Rotorua - Feel the Spirit – Manaakitanga’ brand decal seen here on the back of Agroventures vehicle is a new FOC branding initiative that is being trialled by DRTM. We invite interested local tourism operators who have late-model sign-written vehicles that they frequently use for out-of-town business travel to make contact with ruth@rotoruaNZ.com or jill@rotoruaNZ.com to discuss criteria.

Come back soon, you hear!

Warren Brown from Auckland’s North Shore scored the jackpot by winning an AA Must-Do Rotorua Adrenalin Weekend in a competition run in the NZ Herald during August and September last year. Warren and his family came to Rotorua to collect their prize a couple of weekends ago and reckons they had a “marvellous time”. Emailing DRTM to say thanks, he said “We all thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and intend to return to Rotorua in the not-too-distant future. We had a fun-filled time with the various activities that were arranged (for us) and look forward to repeating the experience.” The package, courtesy of local operators, included two nights at the Heritage Hotel, an Agroventures Fourtune pass, a 4WD bush safari with Off Road NZ and a family pass to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. More satisfied guests and excellent word-of-mouth publicity for Rotorua, so thanks to all concerned.

Introducing Mrs Clarke

Our C & I Co-ordinator Melissa Gray becomes Mrs Clarke on March 7 when she and partner Scott tie the knot. The DRTM team wish her all the very best as she begins this new part of her life.   

These sites not unseen 

Praise for our main and foreign language websites came from three different quarters over the past month. Lee Juillerat, a writer-photographer for the Herald and News in Klamath Falls, Oregon, Rotorua's sister city, who has previously been “dazzled” by New Zealand’s scenery and hospitality said “I am greatly impressed with your website.” Jan Clarke, from the Rotorua-based English Language Academy, said they direct all their international student inquiries about Rotorua to the rotoruaNZ websites. She says being able to direct students and agents to a site in their own language is a real bonus. Commenting on the usefulness of DRTM’s trade publication In Essence, an inbound agent based in Dunedin catering to the French market was delighted to discover we have a French language website. She said “While many visitors have a reasonable grasp of basic spoken English, many have difficulty reading it.” Her advice: Never underestimate the power of speaking to someone in their own language. 

New feature pages attract attention

Several new feature pages added to our rotoruaNZ.com site in the past month or so have attracted some reasonable traffic. The cruise, campervan, Eat Streat and photography competition pages each cater to a different trade and consumer need, and judging by the resultant interest it appears we are on the right track.
Since December 9 rotoruaNZ.com/rotorua/cruise logged 408 pageviews.
Since December 23 rotoruaNZ.com/rotorua/campervan-facilities logged 224 pageviews.
Since January 7 rotoruaNZ.com/photocompetition logged 137 pageviews.
Since January 19 rotoruaNZ.com/culture/eatstreat logged 65 pageviews.

Website stats

DRTM’s web man Adrian Hodge reports that the busiest time of the day on the rotoruaNZ.com the past month (Dec 27 to Jan 26) was between 11am and midday with 6.33% of all traffic in visiting during that period. The longest average length of time spent on the site, 16:24 minutes, was logged between 4am and 5am with midnight to 1am coming in second spot at 10:39 minutes and third place, 9:42 minutes, between 1am and 2am. Overall visits were up 30.29% and pageviews were up 32.88% compared to the previous month, and up 12.8% and 31.6% respectively compared to the same time Dec/Jan period last year.

Visitors tell it like it is in Rotorua

Rotorua has been playing host to Tourism New Zealand’s ‘Have Your Say’ mobile studio this week. The 17m long mobile studio is scouring the country collecting UK visitors’ stories of their time in NZ this summer. The ‘Have Your Say’ studio arrived on Tuesday for four days to offer visitors (at the Lakefront, Agroventures, Skyline Skyrides and Te Puia) the chance to send home a video message about Rotorua from TNZ’s mobile recording studio. Scheduled to visit 40 NZ towns between now and April, the studio aims to record around 3000 ‘raves’ from overseas visitors. While the ‘Have Your Say’ initiative was designed to capture feedback and messages from British travellers to link into TNZ’s ‘What do you say UK?’ marketing campaign, tourists from all markets are welcome to record a ‘rave’ and send it to friends and family. ‘Raves’ will immediately be emailed out to friends and family, and broadcast on a ‘Have Your Say’ YouTube channel. Participants can also post their ‘raves’ on their Facebook page. The ‘raves’ can also be viewed on Tourism New Zealand’s consumer website - newzealand.com/travel/uk-ireland DRTM’s GM Don Gunn reckons the initiative is a fantastic opportunity to showcase Rotorua and capture genuine feedback from visitors who have experienced what Rotorua has to offer. “The locations of the mobile TV studio have allowed feedback from a range of activities - including thrill-seeking, luging, cultural and lakefront activities. The great thing about this project is that the feedback occurs instantly and is available to a wide target audience.” The second phase of the ‘What do you say UK?’ campaign, which launched in the UK last September, is based on research that British consumers are most likely to make their travel decisions based on word-of-mouth.

Get your life back!

In the US, Tourism New Zealand is about to extol Amercians to “Come to New Zealand and get your life back.” That’s the offer beneath ‘The New Zealand Life Back Promise’ tagline of a new $3m TNZ marketing campaign launching in the US in the middle of next month. Discovery Channel presenter Dhani Jones is spending nine days in this country in February filming a series of short documentaries showcasing the revitalising experiences North American travellers can expect from a New Zealand holiday. These will form the basis of the new advertising campaign which was created based on research that showed awareness of New Zealand remains low in this market, despite its importance to New Zealand tourism. TNZ Chief Executive George Hickton says the new campaign is designed to raise awareness and convert this awareness into action. The Discovery Channel Network was selected as a partner for this campaign because of its reach among active travellers that fit within New Zealand’s target market in the US. Around 8.5 million Discovery Channel viewers fall into TNZ’s target market and network statistics show that nearly 12.9 million of all viewers took a foreign vacation in the last year. Of these, 291,000 have already been to New Zealand.

Up there with the best

Rotorua has been ranked as one of most popular North Island destinations by online accommodation website wotif.com. According to wotif.com, the city was New Zealand’s fifth most popular holiday destinations for Kiwis in 2008. The list was compiled by totalling the number of accommodation bookings made through the site for each region from January 1 through to December 31 2008. Auckland was first followed by Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington in 2008. Rotorua was also in the top five in 2007.  

Good return for quality delivery

Despite what many say are tough times, Polynesian Spa experienced a 25% increase in Kiwi visitors between Christmas and January 4; an increase that Managing Director Martin Lobb reckons signals that the domestic market is healthy. He says the increase has come from Kiwis, especially from Auckland and the Waikato, who have perhaps stayed closer to home this summer. Martin said “Rotorua is again appealing to Kiwis from the North Island as a destination delivering action, quality and value, possibly at the expense of South Island destinations. We’re the jewel in the crown of North Island holiday spots this summer.” Martin also noted that more people are willing to pay top dollar for top-of-the-line spa therapies and that the demand for their higher-priced deluxe private pools and luxury lake spa had also increased.

Marketing in a recession

Harvard Business School Professor John Quelch’s advice on ‘How to market in a Recession’ quoted in the Tourism Industry Association (TIA) January 16 T Mail is worth repeating. Professor Quelch says companies should bear eight factors in mind when making their marketing plans this year: Research your customers - know what they want, focus on family values - consumers seek certainty and reassurance during tough times, maintain marketing spending, adjust your products to better meet visitor demand, support your distributors - identify which are the most effective and build on those relationships, adjust pricing tactics - consider temporary promotions and find ways to add value, stress market share - focus on ways to improve your market share, and emphasise core values - look after your team and your customers.

Hoteliers to gather

The 2009 NZ Hotel Industry Conference (NZHIC) being held in Auckland in May is timely given industry concern over falling visitor numbers and the global economic downturn.  Co-hosts of the 3rd Annual NZHIC, the New Zealand Hotel Council, Horwath HTL Ltd and Simpson Grierson, are confident record numbers will be attracted to the 2009 conference. NZHIC 2009 will feature a strong panel of speakers and industry input, delivering up-to-date information on a wide range of hotel-related topics. Prime Minister John Key, who is also the country’s tourism minister, will open the conference and give a keynote address. For more information contact 

Okere Kopia is finally a reality for Kaitiaki

It’s been a while coming and there was a false start back in March 2007 due to land ownership changes but patience and persistence have paid off for Kaitiaki Adventures who have recently gained exclusive access to a special stretch of water some 10km north of Okere Falls where, according to the Ngati Pikiao people, the Kaituna becomes the Okere River. The new upmarket offering, Okere Kopia, is based around a completely untouched section of the river that is steeped in ancient Maori history. Okere Kopia is available as either a combination helicopter and rafting/sledging or helicopter rafting/sledging, jetboat option for small numbers; a maximum of four if sledging or eight if rafting. Kaitiaki Manager Jason Wright says the canyon walls (kopia means gorge) in this part of the river are so narrow in places that the sides of their normal big rafts touch the sides so they need to use two small (3.8m) rafts. Jason says this trip is “special” for a number of reasons; its exclusivity and the quality of the experience (they have sole access and take only small numbers on the daily 12.30pm trip), the spectacular untouched scenery, the history that surrounds this section of the river, and the fact that it’s the descendants of the hapu that are telling the stories. Clients are flown in by helicopter to the rafting/sledging entry point on the Te Akau Block and spend around two hours on the water either rafting or sledging. There is an option to be met by the Kaituna Jet and continue on for a further 12km of jetboat excitement finishing at Spring Loaded Fun Park (formerly Longridge Park) before the return leg home. Jason says “It’s been awesome working with the Ngati Hinerangi and Ngati Hinekiri landowners to develop - and have them be part of - the new product.”   

Exclusive island treat

The Wai Ora Group has announced the launch of what they call ‘a wild luxury product’ called Mokoia: A Luxury Journey. It includes a Volcanic Air Safaris helicopter flight to New Zealand’s only inland bird sanctuary, Mokoia Island. Haydn Marriner Sales Manager for the Wai Ora Group says guests’ exclusive use of the island will include a guided walk through native bush along with a chance to hear of the island’s history to a backdrop of native birdsong. He reckons the highlight for most will be an outdoor massage under the pohutukawa trees at Hinemoa’s Pool. The traditional Maori Mirimiri massage is followed by a relaxing soak in the natural hot pool while being serenaded by Maori puterino (flute) music. Finally a luxurious meal featuring New Zealand produce, meats and seafood infused with wild native herbs and spices served beneath the native totara trees. Sounds like bliss!

Waterfall for park

Work on Stage 1 of a new lake development at Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park started last November. The main feature of the lake development is a 4.2m high waterfall carved in the existing hillside bordering the current coach parking area. The new area will also feature a flat, grassed area ideal for picnics and seating for local events, as well as providing a scenic outlook for diners at the Springs Café. The expansion will enable easier wheelchair and stroller access to the top end of Rainbow Springs, which includes the introduced species and heritage story. Springs GM Stewart Brown says the lake development continues the long-standing tradition of improvement and development of new areas within the nature park for visitors to enjoy. The waterfall is almost finished, but the completion date for the whole project is next summer.

Hunt is on

Volcanic Air Safaris and Basic Instincts have teamed up to offer hunting packages on a 240-acre Mamaku Block. Just six minutes from the Rotorua Lakefront by helicopter, the block offers opportunities to hunt red deer, fallow deer, opossums and rabbits, do target shooting, claybird shooting and use a rifle range, take nature walks, pursue photography opportunities, enjoy wildlife and even utilise the bush camp area to stay over. They also have access to other back country hunting and fishing blocks.

Skyline now favoured brand

Luge fan David Blackmore is the new Sales and Marketing Manager for Skyline Skyrides. Although he has no specific background in tourism, David came to his new role on January 12 with strong sales experience. He was formerly the Hamilton-based Territory Manager for Clorox, a company involved in supplying fast moving consumer goods to supermarkets. He says like most other tourism operators his big focus this year will be mostly on the domestic and Australian markets. He reckons he’s fortunate to have joined a well positioned company with great products. A family man, David has a partner and an 11-year-old daughter.

From lake to town

Warwick and Susan Kay, formerly of The Lake House at Cooper Avenue, Holden’s Bay, sold their B & B business last year and purchased what was a private apartment at 19a Lake Road, Ohinemutu. Now branded A Town House, the couple say it’s a place to enjoy peace and quiet yet be in a central location. They say the spacious, 2-bedroomed self-contained apartment is ideally suited to one or two couples or business colleagues looking for longer stay options. Minimum stay is three days.

Home sweet home for Marvellys

Brett and Vlasta Marvelly have returned ‘home’ to the 112-year-old Princes Gate Hotel. Since then things have been all go with new projects and initiatives. Brett says all rooms have been totally re-vamped over the past month or so including adding internet access and flat screen plasma television sets. The apartments have also been beautifully re-decorated to a five star standard, and valet parking has been incorporated into the hotel’s services. The couple took a year off to support their daughter Elizabeth’s fledgling singing career which saw the family travel with her to numerous overseas engagements in the UK, Europe, Hong Kong, Dubai, China, Australia and Malaysia. 

Move for Anu

Finnish born Anu Weir has joined the Events and Venues team as a Sales and Marketing Co-ordinator. Anu, previously Operations Manager at Clearwater Cruises, has lived in Rotorua for the past six and half years and is married to owner Rotorua Duck Tours Trevor Weir.

Gastrobar has new owner

Mericia Waqanimaravu and her husband are the new owners of Seismic Gastrobar. Mericia is running the café and bar took over from the former owner in December 2008.

On top of the world

Being in the top 25 in the world is a great place to be – and that’s where Treetops Lodge and Wilderness Experience have been placed in the annual Travel + Leisure Magazine 2009 survey. Treetops is the only New Zealand hotel to make the top 25 ‘world’s best hotels’ list. The first year Treetops has appeared in this prestigious list, the achievement is a result of Travel + Leisure’s international team of reporters and editors checking out the 500 highest-rated hotels, resorts, inns, and lodges in the ‘world’s best’ survey and identifying what makes them special. According to Travel + Leisure magazine, the insider tip to Treetops Lodge being in the top 25 ‘world’s best’ is its authenticity and ‘unique to Treetops’ experiences. They used the example of hearing a local Maori chef tell legends and stories fireside in the lodge library. Treetops owner and founder John Sax says he is exceptionally proud of the Treetops team. “This recognition confirms that a luxury lodge can be built on sustainable values and practices, and be recognised as the leader in luxury lodging in New Zealand and the world.”

Enviro Gold leading the way

Rotorua’s Millennium Hotel has achieved gold status under the new Qualmark environmental benchmarking system; the first accommodation provider in the central North Island to receive this recognition. Hotel GM Pipiana Whiston acknowledged the team effort required to achieve Enviro-Gold to sit alongside their four-star-plus hotel Qualmark rating. She’s delighted with her staff’s contribution to the hotel’s environmental commitment saying it played a significant role in accomplishing their Enviro-Gold rating. “Having had many green initiatives in place for some time, it is rewarding to see these have now become second-nature in our day-to-day operations,” she said. Their sustainable practices include in-room recycling, a guest recycling area outside the hotel, growing kitchen herbs on-site and removing plastic bags from guest rubbish bins and bathrooms. They are also supportive of community groups such as Women's Refuge and the Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust.

Consultancy business her new path

Robyn Bolton has resigned from Tourism Northland where she has been for the past nine years. The former Tourism Rotorua (now DRTM) staffer left her GM role at Tourism Northland in December 2008 and, after taking a break, intends to set up her own tourism consultancy and marketing services business.  

Baby Blake

Former DRTM staffer Hannah (nee Stone) and husband Dan became first-time parents last week. Their 7lb 61/2oz “angel”, Jack William Sattler Blake, was born at 1.39am on January 23. Now Sydney-based, Hannah says they are “super stoked” with their new arrival. Once she settles into her new life, Hannah will begin working for DRTM on a part-time project basis. She will be promoting Rotorua in Australia by feeding stories to relevant media, sourcing new media opportunities and staying close to key media contacts in the market.

At it again

The man who helped bring Zorbing to the world is behind another world first - the Fishpipe. Andrew Akers invented the Fishpipe, which he and brother David are currently operating at Mt Maunganui. The pair describe the Fishpipe as a human washing robot, a treadmill in the shower and a revolutionary surf machine.  Check it out at www.fishpipe.co.nz

Men of iron needed for ironman

Former Events Manager for Events and Venues, Steve Gibling, will be in Taupo in March to complete in the annual Ironman New Zealand event.  Operations Team Leader at the redeveloped Jellie Park aqua park in Christchurch since last April, Steve is reportedly doing well in his training and is hopeful of a sub 10 hour time on March 7. Ironman triathlons are not for the unfit or faint-hearted as they involve a 179.2km cycle ride, a 42.2km run and a 3.8km swim.

Put visitors in the sustainability chain

A New Zealand rental vehicle business was on the point of offering their visitors the opportunity of offsetting carbon emissions when the business made a last minute decision to ask their customers if that was important to them. After surveying 100 customers, the business found that most of the respondents would consider making a financial contribution towards offsetting their carbon emissions; however what they wanted the money spent on came as a surprise. Only a handful wanted their contribution to be spent on carbon neutrality schemes such as tree planting; the majority felt it was more important to spend money on the research and development of renewable energies. The lesson here is to engage customers in dialogue when considering sustainability improvements, because customers needs and wants can only be fully realised when customers have a role in the sustainability chain. For information on becoming a member of the Rotorua Sustainable Tourism Charter please contact Gina George by email gina@rotoruaNZ.com or phone 349 7289.

Recycle with care

The Tourism Industry Association (TIA) reported in its December 19 T Mail that the ‘LoveNZ – Recycle with care’ project has launched a website environment.govt.nz/lovenz to help visitors find the places where they can recycle rubbish such as water bottles, soft drink containers and beer cans. They say since it was launched in 2008 with strong support from TIA, the LoveNZ public place recycling network has expanded and there are now more than 200 bins in place across New Zealand. The website will be updated as new bins come into place in additional regions.

Dump station guide

The Tourism Ministry’s latest 'Finding a Dump Station in New Zealand' guide is now available tourism.govt.nz/dump. To ensure the health of the country’s environment, campervan and motorhome users (particularly freedom campers) need to dispose of their black and grey waste appropriately. The new guide lists the locations of over 600 dump stations throughout New Zealand. Several thousand copies have been printed and are available free, email Alastair Finlay at .

Celebrating Rotorua’s cultural diversity

Following a successful inaugural community event last year, Whakanuia will be held at Whakarewarewa – The Living Thermal Village again this Waitangi Day, February 6. One of the organisers, Renee Nathan, says Waitangi Day not only provides an opportunity to celebrate our Maori heritage but also to acknowledge the diversity of other cultures here in Rotorua. She says entry to the Whakanuia celebrations is free for locals while normal admission will apply for visitors. Starting at 10am and running to 3pm, the proposed programme will include native tree planting by 20 ethnic community representatives, Maori cultural workshops, Pacific Island cultural performances and workshops, taiaha demonstrations and participation, Hinemoa and Tutanekai competition with Maori and Pacifika theme, Whaka Olympics Challenge, tug o’ war and stilt races for adults and children, singing bee/talent quest, wearable arts display and art auction. Ongoing activities throughout the day will also be provided such as ta moko, carving, art exhibition, poi and dress up, weaving, food stalls, guided tours and historic films. Tryon Street, from just past the Heritage Hotel to the Whakarewarewa gateway, will be closed off to allow activities and events to run within the existing car park and admission areas.

Music in the park

Every Sunday for the next two months local musicians will bring Government Gardens to life with Music at the Band Rotunda. Now in its third year, the summer series of music in Government Gardens kicks off this Sunday, February 1, at 1pm with local jazz performers, the Dave Cown Jazz Combo.  The following Sundays will feature Yatag - original songs and covers (Feb 8),
Art in the Park - a RAVE Event (Feb 15), Four Gone Conclusion - barber shop and the City of Rotorua Highland Pipe band (Feb 22), BOP Blues Club presentation (March 1), The Nostalgia Band (March 8), Acousticity Rotorua - originals and covers (March 15), Taiko Racco Drummers and Keith Garret and Friends - jazz/blues (March 22), and the Rotorua Symphonic Band and Rotorua Brass (March 29). The free outdoor concert series is an opportunity to promote local talent while allowing residents and visitors to relax in a beautiful setting.

February events in brief

Bike Vegas N-Duro Summer MTB Cup No.2
25km or 45km MTB races, Long Mile Road, Whakarewarewa Forest
Sunday, February 1

Raggamuffin Festival
Summer reggae festival, Rotorua International Stadium
Saturday, February 7

Parade of Classic and Wooden Boats
Fun-filled family day out, Lake Rotoiti
Saturday, February 7

Art in the Park
Enjoyable day of art, live music and entertainment, Government Gardens
Sunday, February 15

More FM TriWoman
Inspiring Kiwi women to swim, bike and run, Blue Lake Reserve
Sunday, February 15

Bike Vegas N-Duro Summer MTB Cup No.3
25km or 45km MTB races, Long Mile Road, Whakarewarewa Forest
Sunday, February 22

For more information on these and other events, go to rotoruaNZ.com/events

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