New campaign to guide tourism in Hurunui
North Canterbury’s Hurunui district is working on a plan to welcome back visitors in a way that will have the community’s needs at its core.
Visit Hurunui’s new campaign – Let’s Have a Yarn – includes a destination management plan to make sure tourism benefits everyone once New Zealand’s borders fully open again.
Marketing manager Shane Adcock said the plan was essential as tourism was growing at an ‘‘unprecedented rate prior to the pandemic’’.
‘‘In Hurunui, we were just starting to feel the impact of that growth, so we now have a chance to plan ahead and ensure that tourism can grow alongside our communities.’’
In February, the Government announced its updated plan to reopen the country to vaccinated travellers from all over the world in five stages across 2022.
Step three, which launched on April 13, allowed vaccinated Australian tourists to return without the need for quarantine or managed isolation (MIQ).
From May 1, anyone from a visa-waiver country would be able to skip MIQ if vaccinated.
A huge list of countries have visa waivers that allow their residents to visit New Zealand for up to three months, including the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, and most of Europe.
As the borders reopened, it was important to have a plan that reflected the wants and needs of the local community, Adcock said.
‘‘The destination management plan is about bringing everyone together to find out what we can be doing better to create an epic visitor experience that benefits our communities in every sense, while taking us into this new era of tourism.’’
Tourism spend in North Canterbury’s Hurunui district had risen over the past year and eclipsed pre-Covid levels, despite the pandemic’s impact on the wider sector.
But local tourism representatives suggested it may be a false dawn and the brunt of Covid restrictions under the traffic light system would soon take its toll.
Fifth generation Hurunui farmer Scotty Bamford, who featured in the campaign, said he loved Hurunui, with its beaches, mountains, farmland, and the popular alpine thermal resort in Hanmer Springs.
‘‘You can do a bit of everything and generally not bump into a lot of people’’ which Bamford said was ‘‘probably New Zealand’s best keep secret’’.
‘‘Everyone’s known about the hot pools for generations, but it’s all the other things that we have been creating to capitalise on that people can do in the region,’’ he said.
Bamford said autumn was a great time of the year to spend time next to the rivers, go rafting, fishing or cycling.
Having been a tour guide around the country, he actively promoted visitors to Hurunui to come to his farm and enjoy the ‘‘amazing scenery’’.
‘‘People will have feedback, and they might see other things that I don’t see... which is the beauty of having these kinds of conversations and just put anything on the table.’’
Hurunui locals have been asked to provide feedback and ideas for the region’s management plan through in-person sessions or online.
Questions posed to the community included what they loved about the region, what opportunities tourism could provide, what challenges were being faced and what must be protected.
‘‘We really want our communities across Hurunui to have a yarn with us in person, but if they can’t make one of the drop-in sessions, they can spin their own online,’’ Adcock said.
‘‘We’ve made this really accessible because we do want this to be a destination management plan reflective of our communities.’’