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Rugby cup saviour
Rugby World Cup rescued a difficult year for the tourism industry, latest figures from the International Visitors Survey reveal.
Tournament visitors spent $390 million, of which about $280 million was estimated to be a net addition to tourism exports.
"This was a significant counter to the decreased total expenditure from other markets," Ministry of Economic Development tourism research and evaluation manager Peter Ellis said.
"However, today's figures continue the significant decline in real tourist expenditure of the past seven years. This is mostly because of the increasing proportion of visitors who are relatively low-spending Australian residents, particularly those coming to New Zealand to visit friends and relatives.
"The continued rise in total spend by Chinese tourists is the main positive note from this survey," Mr Ellis said.
Overall, international visitors spent $5.6 billion in New Zealand in the 12 months to March 2012, excluding international air fares.
Total visitor spend showed no change in nominal terms despite international visitor arrivals increasing 4% in the same period.
Passenger numbers rise
Queenstown Airport said domestic passenger numbers were up 19.3% for April compared with April 2011, the largest monthly increase in domestic passengers in the past 12 months.
The additional Jetstar Wellington service was pinpointed by airport management as the main driver in the continued growth in domestic passenger numbers.
There was an increase of 17.1% in passengers in April compared with the previous April, the 10th month in a row that the total number of passengers has grown.
May and June are traditionally quieter months at the airport but the flight schedule increases dramatically towards the end of June.
Jet-boat operation rebranding
Kawarau Jet, one of Queenstown's most enduring tourism operations, will be rebranded as KJet, the company says.
KJet sales and marketing manager Melinee Kong-Pearce said the new logo, imagery, website and brochures backed up how "our trips really do have it all" after consulting customers and staff.
KJet director Shaun Kelly said the "dynamic" new logo represented speed and spins.
"In the past I think some visitors have thought we don't offer the adrenaline rush of full spins and hair-raising swoops, past sheer rock faces or river banks, when in fact we always have," he said.
"If there's only one jet-boat ride visitors do in New Zealand, it should be with KJet."
New craft unveiled
The wraps have come off a fifth-generation jet-boat to thrill Shotover Jet customers, after 24-months of development.
The prototype represented a big step forward in terms of power, manoeuvrability and enhanced passenger experience, while raising standards in safety and comfort, Shotover Jet general manager Clark Scott said.
"Our 'Big Red' boats are designed specifically to handle the Shotover River canyons, can travel at speeds of up to 85kmh in as little as 10cm of water and can do full 360 degrees," Mr Scott said.
"All 14 seats are built into a single pod, which removes in one piece and is made of carbon fibre, to reduce weight. It comes from a single mould, to provide consistency from boat to boat, so everyone gets the same experience."
Company chases older swingers
After 10 years of business, Shotover Canyon Swing is shifting its attention to the older swingers in town, who want to knock off the world's highest cliff jump from their bucket list.
"As we're getting better known and understood we're definitely seeing a broadening in our customer base to those that are a little bit older than we've seen over the years," general manager Matt Hollyer said.
"Just because they're not 25 any more doesn't mean they can't have huge amounts of fun or a great adrenaline rush."
Mr Hollyer said Shotover Canyon Swing was also proving popular with Indian visitors, which he put down to the company getting better known and appealing to a wider base of customers.
Forest ride numbers increasing
Ziptrek Ecotours in Queenstown says it is going from "strength to strength" in growing its daily visitor numbers and developing team-building programmes for national and international incentive-orientated businesses.
General manager Stu Cordelle said the "magic" of the Douglas firs and native beech forest canopy through which the network of ziplines operates at Bob's Peak, coupled with the views, meant the fledgling company was "fast becoming a rising star" in Queenstown tourism.
Martins Bay helicopter ride
Hollyford Track Guided Walks says it will launch a new scenic helicopter flight from the start of the 2012 summer season.
The Ngai Tahu Tourism operation would include the flight from remote Martins Bay at the end of each three-day guided walk and fly over rivers, alpine vistas and glacial formations, waterfalls, coastline and down the length of Milford Sound to Milford Airport.
The new service will be offered through Fiordland scenic flight specialists Milford Helicopters.
Hollyford Track general manager Mick Holzmann said four to six passengers will be carried on each helicopter.
"On a clear day, passengers will enjoy simply stunning views of the rugged Fiordland landscape and get a bird's-eye view of Milford Sound," he said.