Australian star Megan Gale has been named today by Tourism New Zealand as its first ever ambassador to promote cycling to the Australian market, this country's biggest source of tourists.
The international model, designer and actress, who recently starred in MadMax: Fury Road, has signed on to promote tourism and The New Zealand Cycle Trail.
A new social and digital campaign using images of Gale, whose mother is part Maori, on the trails will deliver the message that rides are suitable for all ages, cycling tastes and levels.
Tourism New Zealand director of marketing Andrew Fraser said the organisation was making a big play to target Australian cyclists.
"We know from past experience of working with celebrities like Phil Keoghan and China's Huang Lei, that their influence through popular culture, particularly social media, is enormous," he said
"Megan's influence and family connection to New Zealand will no doubt increase awareness and preference for New Zealand as a world-class cycling destination."
Gale's two-decade career includes business ventures in swimwear and homeware design as well as modelling and acting.
Last year she cycled the Otago Central Rail Trail and The Timber Trail, accompanied by locals including cycling Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ulmer, cross-country cycling Commonwealth Games silver medalist Sam Gaze and celebrity chef and writer Annabel Langbein.
Fraser said the connection between cycling and other activities is a key part of Tourism New Zealand's offering to Australian travellers.
"Visitors can experience New Zealand's spectacular cycle trails as well as the very best of New Zealand's food, wine, culture, history and stunning scenery all within such close reach of one another," he said.
"We are seeing many Australians travel to New Zealand specifically to enjoy our diverse trails and expect to see this number rise following today's announcement."
Watch Megan Gale cycle the Timber Trail in Waikato
Gale said she was proud of her new role and New Zealand was in her blood.
"My mother is part Maori so my connection to New Zealand has always been strong and the opportunity to promote New Zealand as a destination and its Great Rides is incredibly exciting," she said.
"I love cycling for both fitness and relaxation so combining it with travel is the perfect mix. The best part is you can explore the country from an entirely different angle - it's like riding through a postcard," said Gale.
Cycling has been identified by Tourism New Zealand as a key special interest activity to help drive higher value and seasonal visitors to New Zealand during autumn and spring.
"Holiday visitors that participate in cycling spend more and stay longer than average visitors - a core focus of our activity to drive value to the New Zealand tourism industry and wider economy," Fraser said.
The government and local communities invested $80 million last year alone into developing trails for both experienced and leisure cyclists.