Scenic side panel
Scenic side panel

Reconnecting in Queenstown: First trans-Tasman bubble famil a hit

The first trans-Tasman bubble travel industry famil has wrapped in Queenstown after four inspired days in the South Island's adventure playground. Eight excited Australian travel industry representatives travelled from Sydney and Brisbane to enjoy a remarkable itinerary of curated experiences hosted by Destination Queenstown and Air New Zealand.

The first trans-Tasman bubble travel industry famil has wrapped in Queenstown after four inspired days in the South Island’s adventure playground. Eight excited Australian travel industry representatives travelled from Sydney and Brisbane to enjoy a remarkable itinerary of curated experiences hosted by Destination Queenstown and Air New Zealand.

After a 16-month or so hiatus between visits, this incredible trip was a reminder of why this spectacular region is so highly revered the world over, and how we’ve missed it.

And there wasn’t a single second of the adventure that didn’t disappoint.

The sun came out to play, and the South Island’s home of adventure put on a glittering spectacle with an action-packed Alpine inspired few days showcasing some of Queenstown’s most exceptional experiences.

I was also there to share in the many extraordinary moments and hear from the region’s tourism operators on the journey they’ve been on through the pandemic and the reset, which is now well underway.

I’m thrilled to report a positive outlook and buzz in Queenstown with a busy winter season and beyond forecast and an increasing number of Australians already making the hop across the Tasman.

What did we get up to?

Choppering into Earnslaw Burn with Heli-Glenorchy was a standout. Pic: Matt Leedham

Simply put, we were spoilt rotten by Destination Queenstown and we loved every second of it.

From heli-flights over valleys, lakes and glaciers and ice-cold champagne-sipping on snow-covered mountain tops to adrenalin-pumping jet boating, bungee jumping, luging up at the Skyline, iFLY indoor skydiving, insane 4WD and Tesla adventures, there was barely time to blink as the high octane moments and ooh’s and ahh’s kept on coming.

When we did slow down a little to catch our breaths, we also got to experience a luxury breakfast cruise across the glacial waters of Lake Wakatipu on the Pacific Gemm and, of course, sample some of Central Otago’s plentiful and exceptional food and wine offerings.

Sunrise on the Pacific Gemm cruising Lake Wakatipu. Pic: Matt Leedham

There was time for delicious Pinot tastings (in the home of Pinot!) at Gibbston Valley vineyard, sampling Altitude’s craft beer and wine tour at Cargo micro-brewery in a converted church and a progressive dinner tour that started with an entree and wine tastings at Amisfield winery out of town and ended with dessert and cocktails back at legendary Eichardts Hotel in Queenstown overlooking the lake.

If that wasn’t enough to fill our boots with the good stuff, there were also dinners at Botswana by the roaring fire, a fresh taste of the Pacific at Blue Kanu and a few late-night bevvies at Attiqa Bar and cocktails including a Pavlova Martini and a few spicy Margaritas at the notorious Ferg’s Bar (Yep, that’s next door to Fergburger).

Oxbow Adventures
Oxbow Adventures. Pic: Matt Leedham

One of the highlights was an early morning visit to the Kiwi Birdlife Park. Here the group had the precious opportunity to get up close and learn more about the unique New Zealand icon and the fantastic conservation work the park is doing to protect it and many other native species.

The stunning lakeside Rees Hotel was our home from home for the four nights of the trip, which provided a luxe base to recharge our batteries in style. There was also property visits to ecelctic Sherwood for breakfast and lunches at Gibbston Valley Lodge and historic Kinloch Wilderness Retreat out near Glenorchy.

What were the takeaways?

Queenstown is ready and excited to welcome more Australians back over the Tasman. The range of offerings here in the area for whatever you’re up for is infinite and superb, and the warm embrace that goes with it from the locals will only add to the epic experiences.

The area has been hit hard through a lack of international visitors and volatile domestic restrictions like anywhere involved in travel and tourism. However, the collaboration, innovation and sheer resolve that the region’s operators have shown here through the pandemic have created a firm platform for sustainable growth and new opportunities.

The group getting high at iFLY Queenstown

People. It’ll always be about people which is what makes working in travel so rewarding.

Reconnecting and talking to the operators here and hearing their optimistic and resolute outlook lifted the group and I no end and reinforced the strong connection and bond we have with New Zealand and our Kiwi cousins.

July and August are already looking extremely busy in Queenstown with a good snow season forecast and an increasing desire from Australians to return with solid bookings already in place.

All they need now is you and your clients.

As the Tourism New Zealand campaign says, “Stop Dreaming about New Zealand and go!”

Find out more: www.queenstownnz.co.nz

Trip delegates

Pic: Matt Leedham
  • Nick Guthrey, Managing Director – ANZCRO
  • Jacinda Passeri, Supplier Relations Manager – Experience Oz 
  • Clinton Hearne, Head of Marketing Australia – Flight Centre 
  • Kimberly Tallon, Premium Product Delivery – Travel Associates
  • Alex Scott, National Sales Engagement Manager – Air New Zealand 
  • Nicole Hague, General Manager Supplier Partnerships – CT Partners
  • Danielle Gorman, Lead Business Development Manager ANZ – Expedia
  • Tania Myles, Marketing Manager – TravelManagers
  • Linda McIntosh, Trade Marketing Manager – Destination Queenstown
  • Kiran Nambiar, Business Development Director, Destination Queenstown

The experiences and adventures we did

Pic: Matt Leedham

Food and drinks

Altitude craft beer and wine tour at Cargo Brewery. Pic: Matt Leedham

Stays

The Rees Hotel. Pic: Matt Leedham