A Covid economic recovery plan for Auckland begins today with 100,000 vouchers up for grabs for activities ranging from Auckland Zoo to Kelly Tarlton's and the All Blacks Experience.
The $9 million scheme, launched by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on December 1, allows Aucklanders to register to receive a $100 family voucher or one $50 individual voucher.
Registrations are open from today until February 25 with the 100,000 vouchers randomly allocated in four draws of 25,000 on January 15, February 1, February 15 and March 1.
The scheme is akin to Covid economic recovery schemes adopted around the world, such as Boris Johnson's "Eat Out to Help Out' in Britain that provided more than 100 million meals.
The $9m voucher scheme is part of a bigger $37m rescue package for Auckland, including funding for foodbanks and events.
Under the Government scheme, people can use the vouchers at a number of council attractions, such as the zoo, swimming pools, museums and galleries.
The scheme is also open for private attractions and a number have already signed up, including Kelly Tarlton's, AJ Hackett, Explore Group, Auckland Whale & Dolphin, Snowplanet, Glenbrook Vintage Railway, Sculptureum, Weta Workshop and the All Black Experience.
There are also Māori partnerships on board, including Tama Potaka - Explore Group and Ngai Tai mana whenua partnered products (Motutapu island and Explore Tikapa products), and the All Blacks Experience – Ngai Tahu.
Another Māori business to sign up is TIME Unlimited Tours.
Restaurant, bars and businesses in the hospitality industry will not be included in the scheme, with Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois calling it "deeply disappointing".
"We are one of the hardest-hit industries. The Government is fully aware of that," she said.
Mayor Phil Goff is encouraging Aucklanders to make the most of the opportunity to get out and explore their region over the summer months.
"I welcome this programme which helps recognise the huge sacrifices that Aucklanders have made since August to help keep the rest of the country safe.
"With the city having now transitioned to the Covid-19 Protection Framework and Aucklanders enjoying many of their freedoms once again, this is a great way to acknowledge Aucklanders for their hard work and support them to have a proper Kiwi summer," said Goff, saying it will also be a boost to businesses that have been under real pressure.
The council's economic and cultural agency, Auckland Unlimited, is delivering the voucher programme on behalf of the Government.
Auckland Unlimited's director of investment and industry, Pam Ford, said the programme will provide an overdue boost in business for Auckland's attraction and activity operators.
She said there has already been considerable interest from commercial operators in taking part.
How to take part:
• Aucklanders can register now until February 25 at www.exploreaucklandnow.co.nz/ for the chance to receive a voucher.
• Once registered, the entrant will have the chance to be allocated a voucher in one of four draws. Entrants will be notified by email.
• If allocated a voucher, the value of the voucher can be used to cover or contribute towards the cost of eligible Auckland experiences on Bookme.co.nz
For a list of activities that can be used for the vouchers - and will be regularly updated - go to: exploreaucklandnow.bookme.co.nz/things-to-do/auckland/home.