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Wairarapa tourism matures with a new online tourism campaign

12 Mar 2019

Wairarapa is being increasingly recognised by tourists as an undiscovered gem and a new video tourism campaign targeting Australians aims to further boost visitor numbers to the region.


Wairarapa is being increasingly recognised by tourists as an undiscovered gem and a new video tourism campaign targeting Australians aims to further boost visitor numbers to the region.

MBIE’s latest Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates for December 2018 show domestic tourism spending in the Wairarapa increased 11.1 per cent to $153.2 and the international visitor spend by 2.4 per cent to $37.2 million.

The Australian tourism spend – Australia is easily the Wellington region’s largest international tourism market – increased by 4.8 per cent to $11.7 million for 2018. 

WREDA and Destination Wairarapa have joined forces in a new online tourism video campaign targeting older Australians to visit Wairarapa. Anecdotally, Australian travellers in the 55-74-year-old age group are more likely to explore regional Wellington as part of their Wellington vacation. 

The video was made by Wellington-based production company Flying Saucer. You can view the video here

WREDA General Manager David Perks says the online campaign invites Australians to include some time in Wairarapa as part of a four or five day visit to the capital. 

“Many visitors to New Zealand are looking for that mix of a vibrant, fun city experience and a more relaxed vibe and beautiful landscapes. 

“It doesn’t get much better than the Wellington and Wairarapa combo. Wellington offers a creative, compact city experience and Wairarapa jaw-dropping coastline, charming towns and villages, and a world-class wine scene. It’s the perfect short break package.” 

Cape Palliser Lighthouse Wairarapa horizontal CREDIT Images for Art by Rebecca Kempton Photo credit: Rebecca Kempton

Destination Wairarapa Marketing Manager Barbara Hyde says Statistics New Zealand’s Commercial Accommodation Monitor report for the year ending December 2018 showed Wairarapa guest nights were up 10.9 per cent, or 26,302 more guest nights. 

“Compare this growth against any region in the country and the Wairarapa is clearly continuing on its upward growth trajectory. It’s an outstanding result for the region,” Ms Hyde says. 

C’est Cheese owner Paul Broughton says his Featherston-based shop has been going gangbusters. 

“Since opening in 2013, C'est Cheese has experienced significant year-on-year increases in visitor numbers, noticeably so over the last 24 months. We receive a healthy mix of national and international guests, all of whom are very much focused on local product and experiences.

“This growth in visitor numbers has encouraged us to recently invest in a new cheese-themed dine in option, significant expansion of the retail premises and the completion of our own small in-house cheese factory.”

Green Jersey Cycle Tours and Hire co-founder Stuart Edwards says the Martinborough-based business which hires cycles and e-bikes, as well as organising a range of cycling tours, has thrived despite a wet spring and damp start to summer. 

“We have seen strong revenue growth of 20 per cent this year and we are very positive about our trajectory and future opportunities.” 

Mr Edwards says anecdotally the number of international tourists travelling independently from tour groups is experiencing growth. 

Union Square co-owner Nicola Newell and her partner, Michelin star chef Adam Newell, put Wellington’s Zibibbo restaurant on the map. After relocating their family to Riversdale, and discovering a deep affection for Wairarapa, they started searching for a restaurant closer to home. The Martinborough Hotel’s restaurant fitted the bill perfectly. 

“We snapped it up, rebranded, and Union Square was born in May 2018. Since then we’ve had a steady flow of tourists, both domestic and international. They are often surprised and delighted to find that their meals were designed by a Michelin star chef, and they can’t get over the quality of Martinborough’s wine and the abundance of top-notch local produce.” 

Rosie Carter, owner of Carterton-based Paua World, says State Highway 2 is a road to riches for her business. 

“We do tend to have a market of free independent travellers who are passing through from Napier to Wellington in their campervans and hire cars who love the goods we have for sale.” 

Other Wairarapa businesses have opened recently including Martinborough’s Wine Bank which features many local wines, some of which are made by wineries that don’t have cellar doors.