What Travellers Really want to Discover in New Zealand

TouristsAfter being both a tour guide, managing a Tour Company and spending a year being a traveller myself I reckon I have a pretty good understanding of what makes the difference between a good trip and a great trip to a country.

We all want to see the obvious, Rotorua and the Geysers, Queenstown in all her majesty, the Eiffel Tower, the Coliseum but what really makes a visit to a country great are those peeks of how a country actually lives day to day.  It’s really important to show country warts and all… the top streets and the tired streets.   Don’t always take the main roads, B roads can be a fantastic way to understand how people actually live and often an opportunity to actually meet the locals.

My best memory of Greece was getting a little bit lost and ending up in  a little village in the mountains… going to the one little bar/shop/restaurant in the town and spending an afternoon drinking very strong Greek coffee and having very stilted conversations with three old chaps who obviously spent their days, smoking, drinking coffee or whatever!  (While their wives were cleaning house and doing the little gardens around their houses) Every time I smell freshly brewed coffee I am back in that village on that hot hot day…. that what great memories and great trips are made of.

You know, New Zealand has so much more to offer than just beautiful scenery, I realise after a year travelling around Europe that we are really very very nice people.  On the whole we are friendly and very hospitable and we are pretty proud of our country.  There is nothing nicer, if you are on tour, than being taken off the main highway and being set free to walk along a beach and have the time to have a coffee at a cafe that is not a tourist shop.  We have lots of places we can share, Narrow Neck Beach, Takapuna Beach, on the way up North a detour to Manly Beach… the opportunities are endless.

Too often we see those coaches pulled up in front of large tourist -aimed shops  (excuse used that they have the best toilets!) selling often overpriced items that are made in some offshore country to enable a bit more money to be made out of the traveller via commissions.   If you are going to include shopping stops, there are plenty of out of the way authentic shops that can be used, selling good quality NZ made goods that we can be proud to send out of our country.

It won’t cost a tour operator much, if anything, to make these little deviations… maybe an extra half an hour added to the travelling day and a few dollars extra in gas…which will be recouped, I believe, by referral business, the best business you can get.

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3 Comments

  1. Michelle Ackers January 27, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

    This is so true, I’ve travelled and lived overseas for many years myself and the most lasting memories I have are about the people we met and when we ventured “off the beaten track” – we experienced real culture not manufactured for tourists. 🙂

  2. Geoff Button January 28, 2010 at 9:06 am #

    The people that live in this fantastic jewel of the South Pacific are on the whole very personable. I think that a great initiative for the marketers (Tourism NZ) would be to focus on the locals and their attitude towards tourists. If they are told of the benefits to their local community and how the money flows through their community and generally that it is great to have cultural exchanges with overseas visitors then this would reinforce hospitable behaviour. I know most people do this out of normal courtesy but to remind locals that in general, tourism is great for many people and doesn’t just benefit a select few would be beneficial

  3. John Jepson February 12, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    ‘Warts and all’! I love it 🙂 I’ve just returned from an extensive tour of New Zealand making short films of my experiences, and I have to say that my personal highlights are based on the people I met. New Zealand is home to a real variety of amazing characters each with their own inspiring story, it was such a pleasure to meet them all and attempt to draw attention to their stories through film.

    Minds are like parachutes, they work best when they’re open – a trip around NZ helps to open the mind to all sorts of exciting thoughts and ideas!

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