Community gets set for Lions rugby tour
Private households hosting fans with meals, farm tours, and shower and laundry facilities, and clubs offering special activities and gala dinners.
‘‘The idea is that we make these people feel very welcome and offer a bit of Kiwi hospitality but that doesn’t necessarily mean doing it for nothing as these people will be bringing their money,’’ he said.
Gardner said the steering group has representation from Tirau, Tokoroa, and Putaruru as well as support from the South Waikato District Council.
‘‘It’s for businesses to come up with their own ideas but we would like to think all businesses can get a British theme behind them. They might also want to run special promotions,’’ he said.
He said many clubs have come on board.
‘‘The Putaruru Rugby Club is right behind it and they are putting on all sorts of things such as a social evening and games of golden oldies rugby,’’ he said.
‘‘One of the golf clubs is also giving a 50 per cent discount on green fees.’’
Gardner said many fans could linger in the South Waikato for days between games due to its campervan friendly status.
‘‘We are going to have welcome packs printed with a map pinpointing local attractions and we are also putting material directly into rental cars and campervans when they arrive in New Zealand,’’ he said.
He said the steering group will be based out of the New Zealand Timber Museum so fans can easily access help if needed.
‘‘We are also looking for ambassadors to show guests where to go and explain what we have got. They will have their own t-shirts and will be at key places throughout the district,’’ he said.
South Waikato mayor Jenny Shattock said she was looking forward to welcoming fans.
‘‘It’s great to see a community group taking the initiative. I applaud them and the council will support their work where we can so between us we’ll be able to show the Lions fans just what they can see in rural New Zealand and in the South Waikato outside of the main centres,’’ she said.
‘‘Hopefully locals will embrace the concept and get on board with this community group. There’s dollars to be spent by tourists in New Zealand and we want them to be spent in the South Waikato.’’