Ex­pe­ri­ence the jew­els of the Waikato

Sup­port­ing our community NZME’s GO NZ! cam­paign

Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - Tom Row­land

From the green hills of Hob­biton, to the mes­meris­ing lights of the Wait­omo glow worm caves, the Waikato is slowly re­open­ing its many jew­els for New Zealan­ders to ex­plore after six weeks in lock­down.

A re­lax­ing kayak through some of the Waikato’s lakes and streams, or per­haps the dare­devil speeds of gokart­ing at Hamp­ton Downs — the Waikato has more to of­fer than most Ki­wis re­alise, says Hamil­ton and Waikato Tourism CEO Ja­son Daw­son.

“It is in­cred­i­bly ex­cit­ing to see some of our op­er­a­tors be­ing able to re­open their doors and wel­come vis­i­tors back,” Daw­son said.

“A lot of our op­er­a­tors are start­ing to lead the eco­nomic re­cov­ery for the re­gion by open­ing up their at­trac­tions once again.”

Daw­son said that many at­trac­tions opened on the first week­end at alert level 2, and de­spite lower than usual num­bers, he was op­ti­mistic that Ki­wis were get­ting out to support and go lo­cal.

“We have seen Ki­wis em­brace the hos­pi­tal­ity scene re­open­ing, sup­port­ing lo­cal takeaways and cafes and, if we can get that same support for our lo­cal tourism, then I think we will be okay. This is the time to travel lo­cally.”

Last week the Gov­ern­ment an­nounced support for tourism in the 2020 Bud­get, with Daw­son say­ing it was a good start in keep­ing some of New Zealand’s most unique as­sets open for busi­ness.

It is in­cred­i­bly ex­cit­ing to see some of our op­er­a­tors be­ing able to re­open their doors and wel­come vis­i­tors back. Ja­son Daw­son, Hamil­ton and Waikato Tourism CEO

“The ex­ten­sion to the wage sub­sidy will be a great help to the tourism sec­tor, and the Gov­ern­ment had been clear that more support is com­ing in the next few weeks.”

The Prime Min­is­ter this week an­nounced $7.6 mil­lion for the Te Puia tourism cen­tre and the Ma¯ ori arts and crafts train­ing cen­tre in Ro­torua to safe­guard its fu­ture, which Daw­son said was an ex­am­ple of more fund­ing be­ing pro­vided in de­tail to the sec­tor.

“We still have more in­for­ma­tion to come from the strate­gic as­set pro­tec­tion pro­gramme. The Gov­ern­ment has said just reg­is­ter at the mo­ment and we will get back to you, but we saw that, with Ro­torua, the $7.6 mil­lion for Te Puia which I think is great and hope­fully it is a bit of a taster of things to come as it is unique to New Zealand, and if we were to look at the Waikato places like Wait­omo that are unique to us.”

Daw­son said he has heard com­ments about at­trac­tions seem­ingly pric­ing Ki­wis out of go­ing, but said the charge is the cost needed to keep op­er­at­ing. con­tin­ued on A7

“My re­sponse has been around value and the world-class qual­ity of the ex­pe­ri­ence or prod­uct our tourism op­er­a­tors de­liver. Tourism is a people-based busi­ness — in­ter­na­tional trav­ellers have long been drawn to our shores by the land­scapes, but the No 1 thing they rate when they de­part is our people.

“People are pre­pared to spend $450 to fly a he­li­copter over the Grand Canyon, but they are not pre­pared to do the same over our South­ern Alps in Queen­stown, but that is a small amount of the mar­ket be­cause most Ki­wis are will­ing to pay to help the lo­cal econ­omy.

“We have worked hard as a sec­tor to pay at least the liv­ing wage to en­sure we can at­tract, train and de­velop our people. It’s im­por­tant we main­tain the fo­cus on people which make up the bulk of our op­er­a­tors’ over­head costs. Add on top of that com­pli­ance costs, re­source con­sents, con­ces­sions, land­ing fees (if ap­pli­ca­ble), tax and health and safety, and it doesn’t leave a lot of wrig­gle room to re­duce costs. Cut­ting costs can also re­duce the qual­ity of the ex­pe­ri­ence and also risk the safety of our cus­tomers and staff.”

The Wait­omo Glow Worm Cave ex­pe­ri­ence will be re­open­ing to the public on Satur­day as tourist at­trac­tions across the Waikato be­gin to open up their doors again. Ki­wis are be­ing en­cour­aged to get out and ex­plore their own back­yard while sup­port­ing their lo­cal busi­nesses. Photo / Sup­plied

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Ki­wis want­ing an adren­a­line rush can head to Hamp­ton Downs for some go-kart rac­ing.

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Ex­pe­ri­ence the home of the Hob­bits from Lord of the Rings with Hob­biton re­open­ing at the end of May.

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Cy­cling tracks such as the Hau­raki Rail Trail are ready to be rid­den on again.

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Waikato Mu­seum has a num­ber of new ex­hibits ready to be ex­pe­ri­enced by lo­cals.

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Walk­ing trails such as Mount Te Aroha and Wairere Falls are open to Ki­wis want­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence some of the best views in the Waikato.

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It may be win­ter, but those want­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence the thrills of surf­ing need to look no fur­ther than Raglan's many beaches.

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Bird watch­ers can ex­pe­ri­ence the seren­ity of Sanc­tu­ary Moun­tain Maun­gatau­tauri once again.

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The Hamil­ton Zoo saw a small trickle of vis­i­tors over the week­end as they re­opened their doors.

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A peace­ful lunchtime re­treat awaits Ki­wis look­ing to es­cape the rush of city life for a few hours at Zea­long Tea Gar­den.

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