Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Rotorua Canopy Tours takes tourism's supreme award

Rotorua Canopy Tours offers a zipline attraction through forest on the outskirts of the city. Photo / Supplied
Rotorua Canopy Tours offers a zipline attraction through forest on the outskirts of the city. Photo / Supplied

Rotorua Canopy Tours has won the tourism industry's top prize, the Air New Zealand Supreme Tourism Award.

The award winners were announced at a dinner in Auckland tonight attended by more than 300 leaders and supporters of the industry which has been enjoying a sustained boom.

Rotorua Canopy Tours provides three-hour eco tourism adventures high in the canopy of ancient forests using ziplines and swingbridges along a 1.2 km tour route. The company also has a forest restoration programme, removing rats, possums and stoats.

Earlier this year the four-year-old business said it employed 22 permanent staff which increased to nearly 40 for the summer months. About 55 per cent of customers are from overseas.

The judges said the business on the outskirts of Rotorua was an excellent combination of people, culture, environment and a fantastic activity for all ages to enjoy.

"Rotorua Canopy Tours has demonstrated incredible progress. Visitor numbers have been growing rapidly year on year, the business has reinvested into a new headquarters at the entrance to Rotorua and outstanding environmental outcomes have been achieved as a result of passion, innovation and perseverance," judges said.

As part of their prize, Rotorua Canopy Tours receives international air travel to any Air New Zealand destination valued at $10,000 to help them expand their tourism business.

Rotorua Canopy Tours also won the Visitor Experience Award, supported by ServiceIQ, and the Environmental Award, supported by Mercury.

Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tours scored a trifecta, with the Matamata business winning the Business Excellence Award - annual turnover more than $6 million, supported by JLT & AIG; the Tourism Marketing Campaign Award, supported by Spark.

The attraction also won a new award introduced this year, the People's Choice Award, voted on by thousands and supported by NZME, publisher of the Herald and nzherald.co.nz.

At the heart of its success is an exceptional visitor experience that has raised the bar of personalisation, authenticity and fun, attracting a premium price tag.

TIA chief executive Chris Roberts said Rotorua Canopy Tours was a complete product that ticks all the boxes.

"At the heart of its success is an exceptional visitor experience that has raised the bar of personalisation, authenticity and fun, attracting a premium price tag."

The industry's most prestigious individual award, the Sir Jack Newman Award, supported by Crowe Horwath International, went to George Hickton, the man who drove the development of the tourism industry's 100% Pure New Zealand international marketing brand.

Roberts said this year's awards were extremely competitive, a reflection of a buoyant industry that is pumping billions of dollars into communities up and down the country and supporting several hundred thousand jobs.

"We had entries from big corporates to small businesses, ranging from one operator that has been in business for over 100 years to our Supreme Award winner, an exciting young company achieving fantastic results in just four years of business."

The Winners:

• Air New Zealand Supreme Tourism Industry Award, and
Environmental Tourism Award, supported by Mercury, and
Visitor Experience Award, supported by ServiceIQ
Rotorua Canopy Tours

• Sir Jack Newman Award (outstanding industry leader)
supported by Crowe Horwath International
George Hickton, Wellington

• People's Choice Award, supported by NZME.
Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm Tours, Waikato

• Emerging Tourism Leader Award, supported by PATA New Zealand Trust
Bradley Garnett, SKYCITY Entertainment Group, Auckland

• Tourism Industry Champion Award, supported by Sudima Hotels & Resorts
Graeme Abbot, Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa

• Business Excellence Award - annual turnover less than $6 million, supported by Westpac - Black Cat Cruises, Canterbury

• Business Excellence Award - annual turnover more than $6 million, supported by JLT & AIG - Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm Tours, Waikato

• Industry Alignment Award, supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment - Destination Rotorua

• Maori Cultural Tourism Award, supported by Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development - Waitangi Treaty Grounds

• Tourism 2025 Enabler Award, supported by Auckland Airport
Angus & Associates Ltd

• Tourism Marketing Campaign Award, supported by Spark
Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm Tours

- NZ Herald

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