You get a buzz out of winning $2 on an Instant Kiwi, a meat pack in a raffle or quiz night at your local watering hole but imagine winning a mega Taupō getaway prize worth $14,000.

St John Ambulance paramedic Dan Euinton from Tauranga has done exactly that and won the Taupō Essential Workers Mega Getaway Prize.

The mega getaway was a collaboration between Taupō accommodation and tourism operators and was launched both as a way of promoting the Taupo district as a domestic tourism destination, but also as a way of rewarding an essential worker for their service during the Covid-19 alert level 4 lockdown.

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It was Dan's wife Cayla-Faye Euinton who nominated her husband on the Taupō mega getaway Facebook campaign.

"As people become nervous to venture outside their houses, St John's staff get busier and busier," Cayla wrote.

"Ambulance workers have quietly been doing their job as normal, they haven't asked for praise or any 'extras' but they turn up to work, help our most vulnerable and come home at the end of the day shattered. Dan has done more overtime than I care to count during level 4 lockdown."

As well as Euinton winning the major prize, the Taupō mega giveaway also had six runner-up prizes, where seven other essential workers won two-night stays and breakfasts in a range of Taupō luxury properties. The seven other recipients came from a range of services including medical, mental health, logistics, supermarkets and caregivers.

Euinton said the family was just sitting down for dinner when they got the message that he had won the getaway prize.

"To be honest, we thought it might've been a joke to start with! It felt so surreal – I'm about to start my intensive care paramedicine internship with a year of hard work, so this break is the perfect chance to get away and relax for a few days.

"We both got a bit teary eyed and couldn't believe it. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated to the prize pool. We are so excited to get out there and explore the fantastic things Taupō has to offer."

The campaign was created by Katie Jolly from Chris Jolly Outdoors and Elle Knight of Lakeside Accommodation, who had already been working on other collaborative initiatives. Together the two initial supporters became a whopping 27 as local tourism operators and businesses rallied to roll out the red carpet for the essential workers campaign.


The mega getaway prize includes accommodation, a courtesy car with chauffeur, a traditional pōwhiri welcome, a three-hour boat charter, rafting adventure, jet boat ride, passes to local tourist attractions, personalised video memory of the adventure, professional photo package, a treat hamper, one beauty treatment and massage, passes for the bungy swing, restaurant and café vouchers, designer clothing voucher, locally made gifts, art and merchandise.

Jolly said she was proud of the local business community for backing the initiative.

"It's an opportunity for our region 'the heart of NZ' to give back and say thank you to our new super heroes and showing what can be achieved when people work together for the greater cause. This is a great example of he waka eke noa."

Elle Knight, who, along with two of the other business sponsors, was responsible for randomly drawing the winner said everybody had got 'the warm fuzzies' from hearing some of the thousands of entrants' stories of their essential work during lockdown.

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