A National Geographic writer, photographer and illustrator were moved by the "welcoming spirit" of New Zealanders during their recent travels, saying they were deeply affected by their experience and the interactions with New Zealanders.
A tourism campaign, launched today, features writer Heather Greenwood Davis, photographer Erika Larsen and illustrator Christoph Niemann as they travel to Kaikōura, Nelson Tasman, Rotorua and Whakatāne.
"New Zealand at some point affects you in the most beautiful way," Niemann said.
"The welcoming spirit seems to really be the defining element of New Zealand culture; they love their surroundings and they love to share it.
"And this spirit really went through all the people we met, all the regions, there seems to be this mix of pride and welcome that felt truly special as a traveller."
Through their travels to four New Zealand regions, the National Geographic explorers experienced manaakitanga - New Zealanders' unique style of hospitality, generosity and kindness.
Tourism New Zealand chief executive Stephen England-Hall said, "This content is new territory for us, focusing on our unique people and culture within our stunning landscapes – and it's the warm Kiwi welcome that is making a lasting impact on our visitors.
"This is what truly sets New Zealand apart as a world-class visitor destination."
The campaign's purpose was to target four of New Zealand's most valuable visitor markets, US, UK, Germany and Australia, highlighting the country's unique culture and warm and welcoming people.
Last year these markets contributed $5.3 billion of spending in New Zealand. The campaign would also target potential visitors in priority markets Brazil, Canada and India.
"Tourism New Zealand shapes what kind of people visit and when to increase the number of high value visitors who come to New Zealand. These are people who visit in the off-peak and include the regions into the holidays, spreading the benefits of tourism across the country and throughout the year – bringing more opportunity for businesses, investment and employment, and boosting overall productivity," England-Hall said.