'Sunrise' proves popular

The broadcast of Australia's top-rating breakfast television show from Queenstown during the opening days of the town's Winter Festival has brought priceless exposure, a tourism chief says.

Channel 7's Sunrise show broadcast on the first two days of the 10-day festival, which finished on Sunday.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd said the programmes were ''hugely successful'', beaming straight into New Zealand's largest international market for ski and snow sports.

It was the first time Sunrise had broadcast an entire show from New Zealand, and the ratings recorded for the two broadcasts - particularly the second morning's - had justified the effort Tourism New Zealand had made to bring the programme to Queenstown, Mr Budd said.

Its producers had told him both episodes had rated well, with the second giving Sunrise its largest ratings ''win'' over its nearest rival.

''Clearly, that's massive for them, and there was a build-up to the show in the week or two leading up to it as well.''

Sunrise has been Australia's highest rating television breakfast show for the past 11 years, with an average weekly reach of three million viewers.

Its producers said the June 20 episode was particularly strong, reaching 378,000 viewers.

Mr Budd said Australian traffic on Destination Queenstown's website from June 1 to 16 was up 67% on the corresponding period last year.

He commended Tourism New Zealand for its role in getting Sunrise to Queenstown.

''Without question, we couldn't have possibly bought this sort of exposure and profile.''

''I wouldn't even try to estimate what the equivalent advertising spend would be for six hours of live TV coverage of Queenstown over two days,'' Mr Budd said.

He acknowledged the lack of snow was disappointing.

''The good thing is that Coronet Peak opened on schedule, and has had only one closed day, but if it continues, it could start to have an impact on people's decisions to travel later in the season.''

However, the feedback he was getting was that ''business was very good and probably equal to last year''.

Festival manager Lisa Buckingham said because there were many free events throughout the festival, it was difficult to precisely gauge turnouts in comparison with previous years.

However, most ticketed events were sold out, and from her observation, turnouts this year had been ''huge''.

''We're feeling really pleased with the whole 10 days.

''It's a really big year for the festival to celebrate its 40th anniversary, and we're rapt with the support from residents and visitors.''