Shirt celebrates Year of Snake

Shotover Jet staff (from left) Shaz Skelton, Tomika Terry, Jessica Barlow, and Linda Coultrip model the company's Chinese new year T-shirts, created specifically for Chinese visitors to the operation over their festive period. Photo supplied.
Shotover Jet staff (from left) Shaz Skelton, Tomika Terry, Jessica Barlow, and Linda Coultrip model the company's Chinese new year T-shirts, created specifically for Chinese visitors to the operation over their festive period. Photo supplied.
Shotover Jet is going the extra mile to say ''huan ying'' (Mandarin for welcome) to Chinese visitors in Queenstown celebrating the Year of the Snake.

The company is celebrating Chinese New Year - also known as the Spring Festival - with a new souvenir T-shirt.

The T-shirt incorporates the snake in both the year and the ''snaking ride'' of Shotover Jet through the Shotover River Canyons.

Chinese new year celebrations start on Sunday - the first day of the first Chinese month - and culminate in the Festival of Lanterns, which is on the 15th day and is the most important festival for Chinese people.

Shotover Jet marketing manager Nigel Kerr said the production of the T-shirts and celebration of all things Chinese reflected the growing importance of China to Queenstown over recent years.

''We can't really predict the numbers for this Chinese New Year, but we can say that we have seen consistent growth year on year at this time of year over the past three or four years.

''We're definitely seeing more `mono-destinational' Chinese visitors, which means they're coming only to New Zealand rather than going to Australia and New Zealand in one trip.

''As a direct result we're definitely seeing a strong increase in numbers, because previously where they might have travelled to Australia and only had time for a few days in the North Island, they're now exploring the South Island too.

''Because the Chinese tend to be quite structured in their holidays, we're seeing a large amount of them in a very short timeframe, a serious influx of Chinese visitors to both Shotover Jet and its sister business Dart River Jet Safaris over the next two weeks,'' Mr Kerr said.

The Shotover Jet base building had been decorated with Chinese lanterns for the duration of the Spring Festival, and Chinese-speaking staff were on hand to help groups.