Prevue September-October 2017 - 31
"UMD in itself is an enormous draw
for meetings and conventions and no
hotel in the region has better access
to activities and programming."
herding to off-roading farm tours-along the edge of Lake
Rotorua. Corporate groups of up to 1,000 often flock to the
mountaintop venues, luge track (attendees can actually luge to a
meeting space surrounded by redwood forest) and wine tasting
room at Skyline Rotorua via a scenic gondola ride. Hillside
zorbing is all the rage at OGO Rotorua, while Agroventures
offers a number of thrilling "firsts," including a multi-person,
swing-style zip line capable of reaching 80mph. New Zealand's
explorable natural endowments are also plentiful, and pre- or postevent excursions to Waitomo for rafting or floating trips through
the Waitomo Caves' vast underground networks of glowworm-lit
tunnels are popular choices.
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Bespoke events for up to 1,000 happen at Te Puia, an
architectural and cultural wonder of Maori craftsmanship and
traditions located in the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley.
Workshops on wood, stone and bone carving, as well as ancient
weaving techniques take place at the on-site New Zealand Maori
Arts & Crafts Institute. Starlight tours of the valley coupled with tales
of Maori mythology stories and a traditional hangi (food cooked in an
earthen oven by heated rocks) are also on the agenda. It's person-toperson experiences like these that keep New Zealand top of mind for
international planners, says New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister and
Ministry of Tourism Paula Bennett.
"[Attendees] come for our uniqueness, our beauty, and leave
talking about the people every time."
On the South Island, a new convention center is about to
become a dream come true for Christchurch. The $240 million
development, part of a bigger $14 billion re-build of the city,
will anchor the Central Business District, ushering regional and
international conventions back into the area. "We were given a
completely fresh canvas," explains Rob McIntyre, general manager
of the new Christchurch Convention Centre. "The large site
freed us from the constraints that other venues face." McIntyre