The Air New Zealand 2016 Supreme Tourism Award has been been claimed by Rotorua Canopy Tours.
The award was granted at a black-tie dinner attended by over 300 industry members in Auckland late last week.
Rotorua Canopy Tours operates a three hour aerial experience through the tree tops of the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve.
Tour takers soar on ziplines, cross treetop swingbridges and perch on treetop platforms up to 22 metres above the forest floor.
Rotororua Canopy tours has been a well respected operator for some time. It’s director, James Fitzgerald, was the recipient of the Pacific Asia Travel Association New Zealand Trust Young Tourism Leader Award in 2014.
Winning the 2016 Supreme Award has topped everything off, he says.
“It still feels pretty surreal that we’ve won. We were up against a handful of large and successful industry players, so we thought we weren’t in for a chance.
“It was genuinely a surprise when the words ‘Rotorua Canopy Tours’ were announced.”
The adventure tour is also a conservation experience.
Canopy Tours help fund a conservation programme to protect the forest and its native fauna, which have been threatened by introduced pests like possums and rats. Trapping has been highly successful, and birdlife has steadily returned. Visitors can spot the rare North Island robin, kereru (native wood pigeon), and kaka (a native parrot) as well as the Pacific gecko.
The judges said this thriving business, just a 10-minute drive from downtown Rotorua, is an excellent combination of people, culture, environment and a fantastic activity for all ages to enjoy.
As part of their prize, Rotorua Canopy Tours receives international air travel to any Air New Zealand destination valued at $10,000 (+GST) to help them grow their tourism business.
Rotorua Canopy Tours also won the Visitor Experience Award, and the Environmental Award.
TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says Rotorua Canopy Tours is a complete product that ticks all the boxes.
“At the heart of its success is an exceptional visitor experience that has raised the bar of personalisation, authenticity and fun.”
Hobbiton Movie Set and Tours was the other big winner on the night taking home the Business Excellence Award with an annual turnover of more than $6m, the People’s Choice Award and the Tourism Marketing Campaign Award.
The industry’s most prestigious individual award, the Sir Jack Newman Award, went to George Hickton, the man who drove the development of the tourism industry’s 100% Pure New Zealand international marketing brand.
It was George Hickton’s most outstanding achievement during his successful 10 years as Chief Executive of Tourism New Zealand from 1999 to 2009. Seventeen years on it remains the envy of tourism organisations worldwide.