2017 Award Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 New Zealand Tourism Awards

Air New Zealand Supreme Tourism Award Winner 2017

Haka Tourism Group

The brainchild of the entrepreneurial Ryan Sanders, Haka Tourism Group was named the country’s top tourism operator in the New Zealand Tourism Awards 2017.

This inspirational tourism success story won the Air New Zealand Supreme Tourism Award. It also won the JLT & AIG Business Excellence Award – more than $6 million annual turnover and the epay NZ Tourism Marketing Award. Ryan himself was recognised for his visionary and influential leadership, winning the Auckland Airport Tourism Industry Champion Award.

Over the past 10 years Haka Tourism Group has expanded to include small group, adventure, snow and mountain bike tours, upmarket hostels, a specialist educational brand and high end snow tours. This year it is opening its first two hotels to support the tourism industry’s strong visitor growth.

TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says Haka Tourism Group is an inspirational tourism success story that has strong links with the industry’s Tourism 2025 growth framework.

Driven by cutting edge digital marketing and brand positioning, Haka Tourism Group is growing at an average of 80% year on year, with revenues for the next 12 months on track to exceed $17 million.

The Awards judges congratulated Ryan Sanders and his team for creating a tourism business that is excelling on every level.


Individual Award Winners 2017

Emerging Tourism Leader Award Winner 2017


Shayne Forrest – Hobbiton Movie Set, Matamata

Shayne has been involved in initiatives that have made Matamata’s Hobbiton Movie Set a must see attraction around the globe.

As Marketing Manager, he’s led promotions that attracted in over 23 million online views. These campaign have helped Hobbiton achieve international brand recognition and seen visitor numbers grow from 58,000 in 2012 to more than half a million this year.

The judges said Shayne is a stand-out performer who is making a fantastic contribution to Hobbiton Movie Set and ensures the company’s marketing strategy is aligned with the Tourism 2025 growth framework.

They commended his contribution to the wider tourism industry and community, including Young TEC and schools. They also loved his ambition and said he is an emerging leader to watch!


Tourism Industry Champion Award Winner 2017


Ryan Sanders – Haka Tourism Group

As the founder and sole-shareholder of Haka Tourism Group, Ryan’s roles have transitioned over the past 10 years from the company’s only employee through to General Manager, and now a more strategic growth oriented role.

The judges called Ryan a remarkable leader who is going from strength to strength.

He has built a successful business from nothing to include small guided groups, five lodges and two hotels opening this year.

He is hugely enthusiastic about the New Zealand tourism industry and is proactively developing new, quality tourism products and infrastructure to support visitor growth.

Ryan contributes willingly back to the wider industry, undertaking leadership and governance roles in tourism industry bodies.


Sir Jack Newman - Outstanding Industry Leader Award Winner 2017


The late Earl Hagaman

A generous donor and entrepreneur, Earl Hagaman made a mighty contribution to New Zealand’s tourism industry.

Earl co-founded Scenic Circle Hotels with the late Ralph Brown in the 1980s. By 2009, Scenic had become the major hotel group in New Zealand – all New Zealand owned and operated. The same year the company rebranded as Scenic Hotel Group, offering two distinct brands – Heartland Hotels and Scenic Hotels.

At the time of Earl’s death in May 2017 aged 92, he’d built a portfolio of 18 accommodation properties worth around $200 million and employing some 1000 employees. Many of his properties have provided platforms for growth in our regions, such as Hawkes Bay and the West Coast.

As well as being an outstanding contributor to New Zealand’s tourism industry over many decades, Earl and the Hagaman family have gifted more than $10 million over the past 20 years to numerous individuals, communities and organisations.

Earl Hagaman is a New Zealand tourism industry pioneer and a visionary whose legacy lives on.


Business Awards Winners 2017

Visitor Experience Award Winner 2017

Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Waitangi

Northland’s historical Waitangi Treaty Grounds has transformed itself over the past four years into a major visitor attraction for both domestic and international visitors.

The construction of the $14 million award-winning Te Kongahu Museum of Waitangi  and a successful visitor experience programme are at the heart of this transformation.

The judges said the Waitangi Treaty Grounds has repositioned itself as a world class attraction. They applauded the multi-million investment in new product, including the museum and carving studio, and the introduction of the all-inclusive day pass which is successfully encouraging visitors to stay longer and do more.

By transforming the visitor experience, Waitangi Treaty Grounds has driven up revenue by 54%, increased visitor numbers by 8%, and seen visitor satisfaction grow to an all-time high.


Business Excellence Award Winner 2017 – Less than $6m annual turnover

Auckland Seaplanes, Auckland

Auckland Seaplanes brought the romance of seaplanes back to the city of sails when it started operations in 2013 with one aircraft, adding a second plane several years later.

It offers a range of premium scenic flights over the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland, as well as fly and dine-wine tasting experiences to Waiheke Island, the Bay of Islands, Coromandel and Central North Island lakes.

Strong partnerships and investing in staff, processes and safety, have seen it increase revenue significantly over the past year.

The judges said Auckland Seaplanes has a strong focus on quality and safety and is making a real effort to contribute towards environmental best practice.

It achieves a high level of customer satisfaction, acting on customer feedback to continually improve the visitor experience.


Business Excellence Award Winner 2017 – More than $6m annual turnover

Haka Tourism Group

Running its first tour in 2007, Haka Tourism Group operates small group, adventure, snow and mountain bike tours.

To enable it to control more of the visitor experience, it started its own upmarket hostel brand. It’s also expanding into the hotel business, with two Auckland properties opening this year.

The Haka educational brand operates globally and NZ Snow Tours offers high end snow trips.

Haka Tourism Group is constantly fine tuning the business to successfully maximise visitor satisfaction and profits.

The judges said Haka Tourism Group is focused on exceptional product development and delivering a world class visitor experience, backed by a clearly defined growth strategy.

It is diversifying and investing in new products and infrastructure to support the industry’s Tourism 2025 vision.

This approach is achieving great results. The business is growing at an average of 80% year on year, with revenues for the next 12 months on track to exceed 17 million dollars.


Environmental Tourism Award Winner 2017

Sudima Hotels & Resorts 

Sudima Hotels & Resorts believes that as visitor numbers increase, it must reduce its carbon footprint, and it’s committed to walking the talk.

Examples include Sudima Auckland Airport, New Zealand’s only Carbon Zero hotel; the Sudima Christchurch Airport rebuild incorporated environmentally sustainable building practices and was the city’s first hotel to install electric car charging stations;

Sudima suppliers have to prove the sustainability of their products; the company’s ‘Green Team’ works on green initiatives and local community projects at each Sudima hotel and across the group.

The judges said Sudima Hotels & Resorts is an environmental leader in its sector, achieving very high standards. A commitment to the environment is ingrained across the business, led by Chief Executive Sudesh Jhunjhnuwala, whose mantra is ‘You have to to leave the world in a better position than you found it’.


People's Choice Award Winner 2017

Real Journeys 

A family owned tourism business, Real Journeys provides remarkable visitor experiences in some of New Zealand’s most remote areas.

The business offers cruises through Milford and Doubtful Sounds, subterranean adventures through the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, and cruises across Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu. More recent additions include Go Orange, Cardrona Alpine Resort and the International Antarctic Centre.

Strategic acquisitions have enabled Real Journeys to diversify the business across seasons, increase its geographic spread and attracting new customers.


Maaori Cultural Award Winner 2017

Kapiti Island Nature Tours

Kapiti Island Nature Tours is a whanau company, providing a nature and cultural tourism experience on traditionally owned Maori land.

The business operates the ferry business to and from Kapiti Island, offering guided walks, overnight stays and kiwi-spotting tours. Whanau guides interpret the history, culture, wildlife and environment of the island for visitors through their knowledge and ties to the whenua.

A growing and profitable business, the judge said Kapiti Island Nature Tours is imbued with inherent Maori values, including Manaakitanga, Kaitiakitanga and Rangatiratanga.

Kapiti Island has been a part of the whanau for eight generations and the business takes its role as kaitiaki of the land very seriously.

Whanau guides are proud to share the island’s precious native fauna and a genuine Maori cultural experience with visitors from around the world.


Tourism Marketing Award Winner 2017

Haka Tourism Group

In 2016, Haka Tourism Group set aggressive targets to deliver its biggest ever snow season via an integrated series of digital marketing campaigns, working with brand partners to maximise reach and impact.

The marketing campaign produced exceptional results, was highly innovative and tackled key themes that support the industry’s Tourism 2025 growth framework, such as seasonality and attracting high value visitors.

The campaign has now formed a blue-print for digital marketing across the Haka group.

The judges said this was an outstanding digital marketing campaign –  innovative and measured, achieving excellent results below budget! They loved the way the campaign aligned with Tourism 2025 goals of smoothing out seasonality and attracting high value visitors.

Successfully working with brand partners to target high-value Australian snow enthusiasts, this was an outstanding campaign and an industry example of how to do marketing!


Industry Alignment Award Winner 2017

Tourism West Coast 

With limited resources, Tourism West Coast implemented a rebranding of the region which has seen it increase visitor spend and build market share.

To develop the new West Coast untamed natural wilderness brand, the Regional Tourism Organisation conducted robust research and consulted widely. This included holding tourism operator workshops involving more than 140 people and getting input from Tourism New Zealand, inbound tour operators and travel agents.

The judges said this was a fantastic example of industry alignment that had helped drive up annual visitor spending on the West Coast by 12% to $522 million. The new untamed natural wilderness brand has been enthusiastically accepted by the New Zealand tourism industry and international markets, and won applause from local mayors and councils.


Tourism 2025 Enabler Award Winner 2017

Queenstown Resort College

Queenstown Resort College is one of New Zealand’s leading tourism and hospitality management colleges, employing 75 staff and catering to 500 full time students.

Its goal is to provide tourism businesses with industry-ready graduates who will become the managers, leaders and business entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Guided by its Industry Advisory Board, QRC works closely with stakeholders to ensure its programmes are constantly evolving to meet industry needs and demands, with one innovative example its national Ambassador programme.

The judges said Queenstown Resort College is a stand-out business that is innovative and responsive.

In addition to delivering leading Diploma and Graduate programmes in multiple locations, QRC developed its Ambassador programme after identifying the need for a more engaged workforce.

This affordable and accessible programme gives participants the tools and knowledge to meaningfully engage with visitors.

It meets the needs of tourism operators, resulting in great staff engagement and increased sales and visitor satisfaction.