Tourism Blog Posts

AHA Creative Strategies is the PR agency of record for Tourism New Zealand (TNZ).  As many of our regular blog readers know, TNZ is one of our favourite clients and not just because they are fun and hilarious people. The North American team at TNZ (based in Los Angeles) works with AHA in a partnership and that approach creates positive results. We have had some of Canada’s best travel writers visit New Zealand as a part of the International Media Program and have worked with them to see coverage generated in the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, The Vancouver Sun, AOL Canada,,,,, and the list goes on and on.

Paul and I will be heading to New Zealand on Friday to produce TRENZblog is a social media campaign that is a great example of identifying and targeting a specific audience in a defined time frame.

When we started TRENZblog in 2009, social media was starting to become prevalent. It wasn’t where it is today, however. As an organization, TNZ saw the value in investing in this social media campaign as a pilot project. Since then, the world has become more and more active on social media networking sites and online in general and TRENZblog has benefited from that. TRENZblog was initially created to connect with travel media (both trade and consumer) and travel industry professionals (travel agents, tour operators, wholesalers, etc.) who might not be able to travel to New Zealand for TRENZ, New Zealand’s largest travel trade show. While this is the largest audience for TRENZblog, we have found as we have gone along that quite a few travellers – people that don’t work in the travel industry, but are interested in travelling to New Zealand – began to follow TRENZblog. This secondary audience is also an important group for us – the traveller interested in New Zealand.

AHA - Zorb ImageWe are now entering our 3rd year of TRENZblog. Each year, we have seen strong growth – up to 30% in audience figures. I think for this specific campaign, there were several key factors that provided a foundation for this success. They are:

  • TNZ saw this as a pilot project – they (and we) were open to taking a risk and to experimenting and seeing what worked and what didn’t. It was an opportunity to learn, along with our stakeholder group, as we all moved more deeply into the use of social media and online tools.
  • This campaign had a clearly identified community that it was targeting. Our blog readership and Twitter followers are solid – in context of the target market we want to connect with. We don’t have a million followers – but we have a strong following of travel media and travel professionals along with some non-travel professionals who are interested specifically in New Zealand as a travel destination. This campaign targets an audience that has it’s own audience. For every one person we have that follows us, they may have their community of 100, 500 or 25,000 people. So if we tell them about New Zealand and they tell others, the reach builds.
  • The campaign was given enough time (now three years) to build a community and to create momentum. Social media engagement takes time and effort. It doesn’t happen over night.
  • This campaign was also given a specific life span – we start a week before TRENZ (May 22-25, 2011) and we end about a week after. TRENZblog and @TRENZblog on Twitter, with few exceptions, is quiet for the rest of the year. Our community knows that – it’s a little like we’re a friend that visits via social media once a year. We are always welcomed back – and we’re always sad to say goodbye!

For the week prior to TRENZ, Paul and I will travel on New Zealand’s North Island and experience some of the fabulous tourism products offered – from wine tours on a bike, to cruising Lake Taupo, to golfing, to experiencing authentic Maori culture. Then we head to Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital, where we will ZipTrek, tour Milford Sound, check out more wineries (I know, it’s a tough job!) and even skydive!

Then we report live from TRENZ on all the news from New Zealand’s tourism sector. We’ll interview tourism operators (and are happy to interview specific operators on request!). We’ll be tweeting live, almost live-blogging and providing all kinds of photos and video clips. If you can’t be in New Zealand for TRENZ, this is the next best thing to being there!

Our blogs for the next two weeks will focus on this campaign – we want to showcase a real, live campaign – it’s challenges and successes – so that our blog readers who are interested can get a real sense of what can be done, when you do it right!

Share this article:
Read more

We, at AHA Creative Strategies, are participating in #Blog4NZ. A campaign developed by a group of travel bloggers to showcase the country of New Zealand and to encourage travel there.

Since we provide a range of travel public relations services at our Vancouver PR agency and Tourism New Zealand is one of our favourite clients, we wanted to participate in this excellent initiative.

We have had a great deal of success in having travel articles that we’ve written about New Zealand published in both traditional and online media. We thought we would share one of those articles with you today. It’s about Auckland, which is where you initially land when you travel to New Zealand from Canada. I love Auckland. There is so much to do there – in the city itself and just a short drive or ferry ride away. It is a fabulous place – and I am hoping this piece inspires you to spend some time there when you visit New Zealand!



For many North American travellers, Auckland is a place to recover from any jet lag and to get their bearings for their New Zealand vacation. However, visitors soon discover that the beautiful city on the bay is so much more than a stopover to the rest of the country.

Positioned on a narrow piece of land between two magnificent harbours – Waitemata and Manukau – Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city with a population of 1.5 million. While it has a big city feel, when it comes to culture and sophistication, Auckland also gives off a comfortable, down-home vibe. People are friendly, the streets are safe and whether you want a city experience or would like to get a little closer to nature, you can find it either in the city itself or in just a short drive or ferry ride away.


Auckland is a foodie heaven. No matter where you turn, there are incredible restaurants ranging from little hole-in-the-wall local spots to prestigious eateries run by world famous chefs. Want to know where to go for lunch or dinner? Ask a local. They will happily give you a rundown and directions to their favourite spots. Knowing how friendly Kiwis are, they might even join you!


The Auckland region is known for its wine and is home to some of New Zealand’s oldest established vineyards. In fact, just a short 40-minute ferry or water taxi ride from the city’s harbour is Waiheke Island, which boasts about 100 wineries. Quaint and beautiful, Waiheke Island is home to a range of boutique wineries that produce unique, high-quality wines based on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc grape varieties. Some of the more well-known vineyards include Kennedy Point, Mudbrick and Man O’ War. Waiheke Island is also known for its olive oil and the island has a range of artists who sell their work at local shops and boutiques throughout the community.


No matter what your idea of fun is, chances are you can find it in Auckland. Activities range from sailing on Auckland Harbour, to shopping the boutiques on High Street; or you can check out the view from Sky Tower where, on a clear day, you can see about 81 km of the volcanic landscape. Just a short drive north of Auckland, visitors can also walk the black sand of Karekare Beach (made famous in the film The Piano), horseback ride at Pakiri Beach or surf at Piha. And, of course, with New Zealand playing host to the Rugby World Cup 2011, checking out a rugby match at Auckland’s Eden Park is a truly Kiwi experience.

Air New Zealand has direct non-stop flights from Vancouver to Auckland and also offers flights from many other North American cities. Visit for more information. Qantas ( also offers flights from many North American cities.

For more information on Auckland, please visit

Share this article:
Read more

AHA Creative Strategies is participating in #Blog4NZ, a three-day blogging extravaganza that spotlights New Zealand as a fabulous tourist destination. (To see other tweets and posts from travel bloggers around the world, visit Twitter here.)

As the Canadian PR agency for Tourism New Zealand, we connect with Canadian travel journalists on a regular basis. We work with Tourism New Zealand to create the opportunity for leading travel journalists to visit New Zealand and to share their experience with their readers and/or audience. Recently, we have been fortunate to have received coverage about New Zealand in The Toronto Star, Canada AM, The Vancouver Sun, The Globe and Mail,, and The Discovery Channel and many others.

Without fail, what we hear back from travel journalists that visit New Zealand is how incredible the country is, how beautiful the landscape is, how delicious the food is, how amazing the wine is and how many things there are to do in New Zealand. One of the fabulous things about New Zealand is that there is something for everyone.

Below is an article that we wrote and distributed free of charge to media across Canada. Hope you enjoy it!

Five Things You Might Not Know About New Zealand


You probably know New Zealand for its adventure, adrenalin, and the great outdoors, but there are also a lot of interesting things that most people might not realize. Here are five fun, funky, and unforgettable things about the land of the long white cloud.

The South Island city of Dunedin celebrates chocolate for a whole week during the Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival  (July 11 – 17, 2010). One of the highlights has organizers letting two sets of 25,000 Jaffas loose. As the chocolate candies roll down Baldwin Street – the steepest street in the world – thousands of spectators eagerly await their arrival. (Just for the record, Dunedin is known as the “quirky capital of New Zealand” and this small city also boasts the country’s only annual naked rugby game.)

North Island’s Napier is known as the “Art Deco City” and maintains that title because of the local Art Deco Trust. The buildings in Napier underwent massive reconstruction after an earthquake in 1931, which almost leveled the city. Art Deco was in fashion at the time and it greatly influenced the rebuilding. Now Napier and South Beach in Miami, Florida are considered the two best preserved Art Deco towns in the world.

New Zealand is well-known for wine tours and tastings, but for those who like their drink with a little hop, there are also a wide range of microbreweries and brewery tours. For beer aficionados, there are many different types to choose from including North Island’s Galbraith’s Alehouse in Auckland, Waiheke Island Brewery on Waiheke Island, and Sunshine Brewery in Gisborne. The South Island brew opportunities include The Twisted Hop in Christchurch, Moa Brewery in Blenheim, and Bays Brewery in Nelson. Asking what local microbrew to try in any local bar or pub is sure to make you new friends.

New Zealand is predator-free, which means no cougars, bears, wolves or snakes. A walk in the forest is much less worrisome than a stroll in the woods in North America. There’s nothing waiting up around that bend except more flora and fauna, and perhaps a waterfall.

And last, but certainly not least, New Zealand makes exceptional espresso-based coffee drinks. According to locals, it has only been over the past five years or so that the country has embraced great coffee. (But when Kiwis decide to do something, they do it right!) Even in little out of the way coffee shops, you can get an exceptional Americano, latte, cappuccino or flat white (similar to a “wet” cappuccino). The best of the best are honoured at the annual New Zealand Coffee Awards.

Share this article:
Read more

AHA - Zorb Image

Zorb Rotorua during my 2010 trip.

We, at AHA, are taking part in #Blog4NZ, a three-day blogging extravaganza designed to highlight how spectacular New Zealand is as a travel destination. This initiative was created to help restore travel to New Zealand after the tragic earthquake that hit Christchurch in February. While this isn’t a travel blog, we do quite a bit of travel PR at our Vancouver PR agency. Since Tourism New Zealand is one of our favourite clients, we thought we would focus on posts on New Zealand for the next three days as a show of our support for the youngest country on earth.

This campaign showcases the value of connecting with stakeholders online. The objective of it is to engage travellers, to showcase New Zealand and to move those interested in visiting New Zealand to buy a plane ticket, book accommodations, and begin researching activities in New Zealand. #Blog4NZ is a grassroots campaign that will allow travellers to connect with other travellers, with travel bloggers, with other like-minded people who can (and will) authentically tell them about the things to do in New Zealand.

I have had the opportunity and privilege to travel a great deal for both professional and personal reasons. I have been to some amazing places and, with few exceptions, can always find something to marvel at in any destination. Having said that, New Zealand is one of the most incredible places on earth. Full disclosure (again) – at AHA, we are the Canadian PR agency of record for Tourism New Zealand. My love for New Zealand isn’t because they are a client – they are a client because New Zealand is a fabulous place to visit.

We are currently planning a trip to New Zealand. It will be my fourth visit and Paul’s first. As we map out our itinerary, it looks like our trip will include a visit to the artistic community of Waiheke Island – just a short ferry ride from Auckland – for wine and olive tours and tastings; Rotorua which provides a look into Maori culture, the opportunity to check out boiling hot pools of mud and, of course, to visit the lovely Dorian and Ann at Volcanic Air Safaris and take a trip to White Island – an active volcano; and the amazing Hawkes Bay, which includes the art deco city of Napier, and the start of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail (a must do for wine drinkers). Hopefully we will also have the opportunity to tour the world-class golf resort Cape Kidnappers and, of course, have a glass of wine with one of our favorite Kiwis, the fabulous Annie Dundas. Then we’re off to Queenstown for TRENZ 2011, New Zealand’s tourism trade show. In Queenstown (another breathtaking place) we’re hoping to zipline at Ziptrek Eco Tours (the same company that has the zipline in Whistler, BC), and we will have to stop for a burger at FergBurger (best burgers ever!). I am looking forward to showing Paul around New Zealand.

New Zealand is a magical place. We hear how incredible it is all the time from the travel journalists that we work with – and these folks travel for a living! While the cities in New Zealand offer a vibrant, cosmopolitan experience, you are never too far from getting away from it all and getting out into nature. New Zealand offers a unique combination of feeling a little like home (especially for us Canadians) and yet being totally different from anything we’ve ever experienced before. The people of New Zealand are at the heart of it all. They are helpful, open, friendly and have a wicked sense of humour. Being a tourist in New Zealand brings life to that cheesy saying about there being no strangers, just friends you haven’t yet met.

New Zealand is a place worth visiting. If you have ever thought about going to New Zealand – take that next step today. Check out flights. Air New Zealand and Qantas have some great prices. And for any of you worried that it’s a really long flight, there are direct, non-stop flights out of Vancouver. You get on the plane in the evening, have a glass of wine, have dinner, watch a movie, maybe another glass of wine and you go to sleep. When you wake up, breakfast is served and you’re there. It’s an easy flight.

Share this article:
Read more