Reimagining tourism in Aotearoa

Tourism has been Aotearoa’s largest export industry in terms of foreign exchange earnings, and we have a clean, green, safe, friendly reputation. We’ve been something of a victim of our own success and mass tourism has created overcrowding in popular scenic destinations like Queenstown. With a focus on the international market, pricing has also pushed locals out of the market with tourism workers (around 8% of the NZ workforce) often forced to commute from cheaper accommodation further afield.

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What are the longer term opportunities for experience engineering around recreation, lifestyle and leisure? I went on a road trip to find out.  The tourism sector has obviously been significantly impacted by COVID, with border restrictions likely to remain in place for an extended period of time. If you’ve ever wanted to go straight up to the counter at Queenstown’s Fergburger, now’s your chance.
Road trip

Kinloch is an hour’s drive from Queenstown and a lifetime away, nestled on the other end of Lake Wakitipu. It’s surrounded by majestic mountain ranges and is a popular destination for keen trampers. Situated at the starting point of many of our Great Walks including the Routeburn, Caples and Greenstone tracks, Kinloch certainly offers plenty of scope to connect with nature, relax, and unwind. Paradise Rd is aptly named, plus you get the bonus of travelling over the slightly famous One Lane Bridge saddling the Dart River.

I caught up with Toni Glover from Kinloch Lodge. She has a clear vision of an eco-friendly future, and has been positioning Kinloch Lodge in this direction with the recent addition of two purpose built eco-scapes. Passionate about sustainability, EV’s and technology for the greater good, her Tesla knows the roads well. Indeed, Kinloch is a great place for a recharge on ALL levels. Toni is keen to promote her lodge for groups and retreats, with a Yurt arriving next month. There’s something quite magical about this location and the majestic backdrop creates a feeling of connection to mauri, that life spark or essence inherent in all living things. Sitting in that outdoor spa under the stars in the moonlight looking at the silhouette of the mountain range is extraordinary. It’s like living in a postcard.
Soul food and responsible tourism

Some say we’ve been lucky to escape a pandemic-style situation until now, and it’s likely we’ll see future outbreaks. There is no doubt that New Zealand will continue to feature highly on top destinations to visit, and he sees opportunities for locations in New Zealand to specialise in sustainable tourism and quality offerings – away from “seeing” a beautiful location, to “experiencing and learning” for a more extended time in locations set up to deliver a quality experience. Kinloch is well-positioned for Professor Albert Postma‘s “responsible tourism” quadrant in a post-COVID world. Toni and I joined a tourism webinar that discussed tourism scenarios out to 2025:

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According to this framework, here in Aotearoa we’re in “business as unusual” transition with tourism restricted over the longer term. We’re seeing some “survival of the fittest” scenarios with a race to the bottom on pricing (Toni is keen to avoid that) and a shift to travel as a luxury product. Ideally we’ll move from this “business as unusual” transition to “responsible tourism” and true transformation, with investment in quality, local concepts.

Get out around Aotearoa

Work remotely or do a digital detox, go for day walks around the mountain tracks and connect with nature, eat delicious fresh local food. Drive your EV. Do your own version of a wellness retreat, or keep an eye out for Toni’s upcoming retreat options. Explore our beautiful country…before those borders reopen, and everybody else does.