Tourism New Zealand has stressed that the country remains ‘open for business’ despite the major earthquake on Saturday morning.
The quake, measuring around 7 on the Richter scale, struck Christchurch, the largest city on the south island, badly damaging more than 500 buildings. Two people were seriously hurt by falling masonry, but there have been no reports of deaths.
While the city’s airport is now back in operation, local authorities are advising tourists planning to visit Christchurch in the next week to put off their travel plans unless the trip is essential.
Tourism New Zealand is working with regional tourist boards and emergency services to get updates to both the travel trade and visitors.
The tourist board’s Chief Executive, Kevin Bowler, said the industry was pulling together to support Christchurch, but added that the rest of the country had been unaffected and tourism was continuing normally.
“The important thing is that those living and working in Christchurch are able to sort out their own safety and well-being in the first few days following the earthquake,” said Mr Bowler.
Regular tourism updates will be available at www.newzealand.com and www.christchurchnz.com
by Andy Moreton
For one of the new ‘must-see’ places in the world, Luxique has carefully selected seven luxury hotels in New Zealand.
It’s been a rite of passage for countless student backpackers making their way around the world.
And this month, the bungee jump has been celebrating its 20th birthday in the country where it all started – New Zealand.
AJ Hackett and Henry Van Asch opened the first commercial jumping station in 1988. Twenty-eight thrill-seekers queued to pay for the chance to take a terrifying leap off the 140ft Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown with just a rubber cord tied round their ankles.
They turned out to be the first of several million people with a sense of adventure (and a head for heights) who would perform the modern version of an ancient manhood ritual from Vanuatu.
Bungee-jumping is now a global leisure phenomenon which, it’s estimated, has brought in NZ$ 1 billion (£386 million / $564 million) for the country’s economy. Tourism is New Zealand’s biggest foreign exchange earner and bungee jumping typifies the adventurous spirit that is one of its greatest attractions.
Couples have even been known to get married on the high platform before jumping off to celebrate.
Hackett, 50, and Van Asch, 45, celebrated their 20-year success story with a tandem jump from the same bridge where it all started. Hackett thought they’d still enjoy the thrill in another 20 years’ time – although he said they’d probably need to jump with Zimmer frames.
by Andy Moreton
Fast becoming one of the ‘must see’ destinations in the world and Luxique offers a choice of eight luxury hotels in New Zealand, including Millbrook Resort and The Spire in Queenstown.
New Zealand’s green, sustainable tourism initiatives have been named the best in the world.
The country won the ‘overall winner’ and ‘best destination’ categories in the 2008 Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism awards. These recognise destinations and organisations that are making a positive contribution to local cultures, economies and the environment through tourism.
The panel of judges congratulated New Zealand for setting an example of what governments could achieve in partnership with the private sector to harness the tourism industry for the benefit of a country’s people and the environment.
“If more national governments followed their example, tourism would make a much more positive contribution around the world,” said the citation.
The Chief Executive of Tourism New Zealand (TNZ), George Hickton, said the win recognised that the country was doing its best to look after its ‘100 per cent pure’ brand image and protect the future of its multi-billion dollar tourism industry.
TNZ’s website urges travellers to ‘explore the youngest country.’ “With vast open spaces filled with stunning rugged landscapes, gorgeous beaches, often spectacular geo-thermal and volcanic activity, a temperate climate and fascinating animal and plant life, it is no surprise that New Zealand’s pure natural environment is so attractive to visitors from other countries. ”
For all those reasons, New Zealand is becoming one of the ‘must see’ destinations in the world and Luxique offers a choice of eight luxury hotels in both the North and South Islands.
by Andy Moreton
A man named Eric King-Turner has just emigrated to New Zealand – which is a long, long way from his home in Hampshire in southern England.
As his cruise ship, the Saga Rose, hit dry land, there was a media frenzy, with television crews battling to get interviews and Mr King-Turner battling to reach the relatives who’d come to greet him.
The reason for the furore was that Mr K-T is 102 and New Zealand’s oldest immigrant. Asked before he left England why he was taking the plunge, the retired dentist said: “I think I possibly like wandering about a bit. I somehow thought that it might be rather fun to move to New Zealand. What’s important is that when I’m 105, I don’t want to be thinking ‘I wish I had moved to the other side of the world when I was 102′.”
A recent travel survey had New Zealand as one of the top destinations for 2008. Colour supplements are trumpeting it as one of those places you must visit before you die.
A friend who’s recently been out there sent me a postcard (yes, some people still do!) which read: “We love it here! Almost every horizon a snow-capped row of peaks; weather glorious and the wildlife astonishing. We have watched blue penguins emerging from the sea at nightfall, yellow-eyed penguins clambering a hill to their nests, a pod of 200 dolphins, albatrosses squabbling over food, whales (three) and seals (by the hundred).”
And he added a postscript for his English friend: “And, of course, they drive on the left and play cricket!”
by Andy Moreton
Photograph by London photographer Jan Staffa