Three southern firms win New Zealand tourism awards

Local operators have taken the plunge to buy the Queenstown branch of iFly. Photo: Getty Images
The Queenstown branch of iFly took out the employer of choice award. File photo: Getty Images
Three southern businesses have been named winners in the New Zealand Tourism Awards.

The employer of choice award was picked up by iFly Indoor Skydiving NZ Ltd, of Queenstown.

Last year iFly launched the Whakamana Youth Programme to help primary-aged children manage pressures of mental health and support suicide prevention in local children before transitioning to high school.

The programme fosters cross-community collaboration to offer the programme free to 200 most vulnerable children annually, with the ability to grow.

The award judges said this was an outstanding entry from a tourism business applying itself selflessly to a community issue with serious implications for young people. The programme is very well considered and thought through, the judges said with innovative and meaningful measures of outcomes and impacts.

The awards were handed out in Hamilton on Thursday night.

Altitude Tours won the resilience and innovation award.

A multi-award-winning tour operator in Queenstown, specialising in small group travel, Altitude Tours curates exclusive tours, hikes and tailored private experiences for a domestic market.

The judges noted the excellent work in co-ordinating with other tourism businesses and called Altitude Tours a proper tourism company – inspirational.

They noted that the product innovations and cycle of development were "quite extraordinary."

The visitor experience award was won by the Hollyford Wilderness Experience .

It was described as a spectacular journey of discovery from the mountains to the sea, a place guests can venture comfortably off grid and be immersed in some of the most magical wilderness New Zealand has to offer.

Ngāi Tahu ownership brings an authenticity to the experience and the walk honours and recognises the kaitiakitanga of the iwi over a landscape that bears its history.

Kohutapu Lodge and Tribal Tour, from Bay of Plenty, was crowned the supreme winner of the awards after being named the first recipient of the new Regenerative Tourism Award.