Eleven tourism businesses have been honoured at the prestigious New Zealand Tourism Awards ahead of a much anticipated summer.
The annual TIA awards were held at a virtual event after a three-month delay due to the Delta Covid-19 outbreak in August.
However the 11 awards recognising tourism businesses building the future of Kiwi hospitality were well timed, given the imminent easing of travel under the national Covid-19 Framework.
"It was a joy to finally get the industry together online to celebrate these incredible finalists and award winners," said TIA chief executive Chris Roberts.
It was a big night for the twenty three businesses from across the country who were in the running.
Rotorua in particular stood out with the Redwoods Treewalk & Nightlights winning the NZME Visitor Experience Award and the National Kiwi Hatchery being named winner of the Department of Conservation - Conservation Award.
"This city has been hosting visitors for over 175 years. We are best in class at Manākitanga," said Redwood director Bruce Thomasen.
The Redwoods said it was a great reward for the team, and that they were thankful for their domestic visitors and support over the past 18 months.
As an outdoor attraction, The Redwoods would be open under the Red level with vaccinated guests and vaccinated staff.
However the one thing on the Rotorua tourism and hospitality sector's Christmas wish list this summer is an Orange light.
"We need the summer holidays, and the traffic light system assures that, but my hopes are that we can be at Orange status before Christmas," said Thomasen.
New Zealand Tourism Awards 2021 Winners
Tourism Industry New Zealand Trust Community Engagement Award
Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari (Waikato)
Department of Conservation - Conservation Award
The National Kiwi Hatchery (Rotorua)
Tourism Talent Employer of Choice Award
iFLY Indoor Skydiving NZ Ltd (Queenstown)
Toitū EnviroCare Environment Award
Wellington Zoo Trust
Tourism New Zealand Industry Collaboration Award
Nelson Regional Development Agency
He Kai Kei Aku Ringa Māori Tourism Award
Dark Sky Project (Tekapo)
Westpac Resilience and Innovation Award
Waiho Hot Tubs (Franz Josef Glacier)
NZME Visitor Experience Award
Redwoods Treewalk & Nightlights (Rotorua)
PATA New Zealand Trust Emerging Tourism Leader Award
Loren Heaphy, ChristchurchNZ
Marsh Tourism Industry Champion Award
Ceillhe Sperath, TIME Unlimited Tours
Sir Jack Newman Award - Outstanding Industry Leader