Rotorua Canopy Tours wins New Zealand’s supreme tourism award

Rotorua Canopy Tours has taken home New Zealand’s tourism industry’s top award, the Air New Zealand Supreme Tourism Award.

Rotorua Canopy Tours has taken home New Zealand’s tourism industry’s highest accolade, the Air New Zealand Supreme Tourism Award.

The 2016 New Zealand Tourism Awards were announced at a black-tie dinner in Auckland (29.9.16) attended by more than 300 industry leaders and supporters.

Mixing thrills and conservation, Rotorua Canopy Tours phenomenal nature experience stood above the rest despite stiff competition. Canopy Tours is a fantastic way to see New Zealand’s magnificent primeval forests the way the birds do – from the treetops. The three-hour tour through Dansey Road Scenic Reserve outside Rotorua lets you soar through the forest along ziplines, cross treetop swingbridges and perch on treetop platforms up to 22 metres high above the forest floor. 

In 2014, Rotorua Canopy Tours director, James Fitzgerald was the recipient of the Pacific Asia Travel Association New Zealand Trust Young Tourism Leader Award, and says to win the Supreme Award is just out of this world.  

“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."

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. 

“Rotorua Canopy Tours has demonstrated incredible progress. Visitor numbers have been growing rapidly year on year, the business has reinvested into a new headquarters at the entrance to Rotorua and outstanding environmental outcomes have been achieved as a result of passion, innovation and perseverance.” 

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. 

Chris Roberts says this year’s Awards were extremely competitive, a reflection of a buoyant industry that is pumping billions of dollars into communities up and down the country and supporting several hundred thousand jobs. He says the awards programme is closely aligned to the tourism industry’s Tourism 2025 growth framework which aspires to grow annual tourism revenue to $41 billion by 2025.

“We had entries from big corporates to small businesses, ranging from one operator that has been in business for over 100 years to our Supreme Award winner, an exciting young company achieving fantastic results in just four years of business.”

New Zealand Tourism Awards 2016 Winners 

Air New Zealand Supreme Tourism Industry Award, and Environmental Tourism Award, supported by Mercury, and Visitor Experience Award, supported by ServiceIQ
Rotorua Canopy Tours

Sir Jack Newman Award (outstanding industry leader) supported by Crowe Horwath International
George Hickton, Wellington

Emerging Tourism Leader Award, supported by PATA New Zealand Trust
Bradley Garnett, SKYCITY Entertainment Group, Auckland

Tourism Industry Champion Award, supported by Sudima Hotels & Resorts
Graeme Abbot, Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa

Business Excellence Award – annual turnover less than $6 million, supported by Westpac
Black Cat Cruises, Canterbury

Business Excellence Award – annual turnover more than $6 million, supported by JLT & AIG
Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm Tours, Waikato

Industry Alignment Award, supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
Destination Rotorua

Maori Cultural Tourism Award, supported by Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development
Waitangi Treaty Grounds

People’s Choice Award, supported by NZME
Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm Tours, Waikato

Tourism 2025 Enabler Award, supported by Auckland Airport
Angus & Associates Ltd

Tourism Marketing Campaign Award, supported by Spark
Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm Tours