Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Kiwis more likely to travel overseas than see NZ - survey

Tourists look towards Blue Lake, the half way point on the Tongariro Crossing in Tongariro National Park. Photo / Greg Bowker
Tourists look towards Blue Lake, the half way point on the Tongariro Crossing in Tongariro National Park. Photo / Greg Bowker

New Zealanders are far more likely to have visited Australia or the US than their own national parks, according to a new survey.

"Don't leave town until you've seen the country" was the catch cry of the last big domestic tourism campaign in the 1980s.

However, the results of an unscientific Facebook survey of 6000 New Zealanders showed that three decades later, while almost two thirds of people had visited Australia and one third had been to the US, only one quarter had been to Fiordland National Park - a world heritage site consistently ranked as one of the great national parks of the world.

The survey was conducted in October and November this year and found almost three times as many North Islanders had been to Australia as Fiordland National Park.

A similar proportion of South Islanders had visited Australia over New Zealand's first national park - Tongariro.

Co-creator of the Wild About New Zealand television series, Chris Adams, said international visitors came to New Zealand to marvel at its national parks but Kiwis were usually heading in the other direction.

"Most of us leave home well before we have seen the country. New Zealand is not seen as exciting and we spend little money promoting it to Kiwis," he said.

"New Zealand tourism has a huge amount of work to do to change this perception."

New Zealand's last national domestic tourism campaign - 'Don't leave town until you've seen the country' - ran almost 30 years ago by the then New Zealand Tourist and Publicity Department.

Its replacement, Tourism New Zealand, was set up in 1990 and by law has no involvement or spending on promoting domestic tourism - which is left to individual tourism companies and the Regional Tourism Organisations.

Quality Tourism Development spokesman Craig Wilson said the tourism sector in New Zealand had been through some tough years.

"Now is the time to invest much more in domestic marketing to address the unhealthy balance of travel in New Zealand caused by kiwis holidaying overseas in record numbers.

"At the moment - many international visitors have seen far more of our country than some Kiwis have."

To prompt more Kiwis to visit their national parks, Wild About New Zealand has launched a Facebook contest offering Kiwis the chance to visit them on one of two all expenses-paid trips.

The contest can be accessed here.

- APNZ

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