For travellers seeking diversity in one destination, the North Island of New Zealand is a frontrunner.
Visitors can experience geothermal hot springs, learn to surf, cycle to wineries, go caving, hike over volcanoes, discover the history and customs of the Maori people, or visit Middle Earth—yes, the very location where scenes from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies were filmed.
And New Zealand will soon become particularly accessible for adventurous Canadian travellers through a new non-stop flight from the west coast, courtesy of Air Canada.
“From December through March, Air Canada is offering direct flights between Vancouver and Auckland,” shared Mark Burt, senior PR executive – North America, with Tourism New Zealand, during a media breakfast hosted by the organization, along with several other representatives from the North Island, at downtown Vancouver’s Chambar Restaurant. “If these flights attract enough interest, they may be extended.”
According to Air Canada, the seasonal flights will operate four times a week onboard the carrier’s flagship Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft, starting Dec. 12.
“North Americans will have the opportunity to fly on our Dreamliners to experience the outstanding range of vibrant, multicultural, and outdoor attractions that New Zealand is known for—and especially since it will be summer in the South Pacific and winter in North America,” shared Lisa Pierce, managing director of Canada & USA sales at Air Canada. “Our flights to Auckland depart from our YVR hub, where the rest of our North American network connects easily from.”
New Zealand on the grow
International tourism has grown considerably in New Zealand, according to statistics from Tourism New Zealand, and now adds close to NZD14.5 billion annually into the country’s economy.
“A lot of that growth is attributed to Canada and the U.S.,” said Burt.
However, Canadians tend to stay in New Zealand longer than their American neighbours and, typically, spend more during their stay.
“We often see Canadians staying anywhere from three weeks to three months,” said Denise Siviter, trade marketing manager with Tourism Bay of Plenty, who also attended the media breakfast. Bay of Plenty, is one of the most popular places to visit in New Zealand, stretching from the Coromandel Peninsula in the west to Cape Runaway in the east.
“Canadians also tend to want to immerse themselves in the region and live as the locals do, rather than like tourists,” added Siviter. “So, we’re able to build an itinerary and suggest popular restaurants, events, or activities that are common and less touristy, so to speak.”
One example is a hike around the base of Mount Maunganui, which is an extinct volcano.
“This is a hike that locals love because it offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding area, with beautiful marine life. There’s even an app we can suggest that explains the history and legend of the area.”
Another idea is an overnight stay in Kohutapu Lodge, near the old logging town of Murupara. This family-owned facility offers guests the opportunity to prepare and deliver lunches to a nearby school for underprivileged students.
“I really encourage travel agents to think outside the box and, along with the typical tours, also offer their clients something different yet local to the area,” said Siviter.
“And now, thanks to Air Canada, it’s an easy overnight flight from Vancouver to Auckland for Canadians interested in exploring New Zealand,” added Burt.
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