The signature twang of the Australian accent may soon be heard more around our northernmost region, if a new targeted tourism campaign proves a hit.
Tourism Minister Paula Bennett this morning announced a new marketing campaign to lure more tourists from across the ditch to spend time in the region, under a campaign dubbed: "Every day a different journey in Northland."
Bennett said that while New Zealand was attracting 3.5 million visitors every year - and a tourism profit of $14.5 billion - more work was needed to get them to less-visited regions.
"We want to spread the benefits of tourism across the country so regions like Northland can benefit more."
Northland's beaches, including Matapouri's Mermaid Pools, Maori culture, volcanic structures and forests will feature in the extensive marketing campaign launched by Tourism NZ in the state capital today, with massive billboards going up along some of Melbourne's busiest roads and public spaces.
The two-month campaign is hoping to encourage people in Melbourne to visit Northland in the shoulder season. It is the first region to region-specific campaign Tourism NZ has done and is part of its strategy to get more tourists visiting.
The centrepiece of the campaign - dubbed 'Every day a different journey in Northland' - is a giant mural of Tane Mahuta by New Zealand-born artist Monique Barnett, situated on the corner of La Trobe and Swanston streets in central Melbourne.
Jeroen Jongejans, co-owner of Dive Tutukaka and deputy chair of the Tourism Industry Association, said the campaign was a great way of targeting the shoulder season and would bring more tourists to the region, which would then lead to more income and jobs.
"This is extremely positive. Tourism is worth over $1 billion a year to Northland and Australia is the largest single market for visitors, but I'm sure we can get even more Australians coming here," Mr Jongejans said.
"Melbourne is a very good market for us. It's got a population of 4-5 million, it's a bit cooler than we are here and we have so many great things to offer them. We need to make sure we are in the forefront of their minds when they are thinking of where to go for a short break and we've got to ensure we keep providing wonderful products and services and experiences for them when they do come."
He said it was a sign of a maturity in the industry with many groups working together on the campaign, including Tourism NZ, Northland NZ, Facebook, Flight Centre, Northland Inc and Air New Zealand.
"We've had great weather in Northland so far, but summer is only really beginning here so we want to give them somewhere to get away to over the shoulder period and it can only be good for the region."
It is the first Tourism NZ campaign focused on using a single region to test whether it can influence a shift in traditional travel patterns. The campaign will run in Melbourne until mid-March to encourage Victorians to visit Northland in the shoulder season.
"This is just one part of the Government's plan to support regional tourism," Bennett said.
It comes after the Government recently approved $3 million in funding for 14 infrastructure projects as part of the $12 million Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund.
-additional reporting from Jamie Morton