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New Zealand opens its doors to Aussie agents for 2024

MATT LENNON explores exciting offers from Tourism New Zealand's revamped discount program.

LIKE any holiday, one of the problems with famil trips is that they’re too short, especially if they require long-haul travel to get there and back. 

Then when you’re on the ground in-destination, the daily grind of one hotel inspection after another can take its toll, not to mention all that smiling and nodding, right? 

Tourism New Zealand is aiming to do away with most, if not all of that, through its relaunched Explore New Zealand Discount Program, where agents can build the famil of their dreams and take it whenever they like (outside peak periods of course) and for up to a month if you like. 

And perhaps the best bit – you can take your partner or a friend with you. What’s not to like? 

Now a few years old, New Zealand’s tourism sector has really embraced the opportunity to showcase their products and experiences to Australian travel agents, with nearly 230 suppliers now registered with the program from 25 regions around the country. 

Discounts range from 100% (or free of charge) while most are in the realm of 30-50% off, but these deals are often extended to your travel companion, so the net saving is definitely in your favour. 

Firstly, to get there, Air New Zealand will casually slash $100 off an airfare from Australia to wherever your self-famil starts. From Australia’s east coast capitals, you can usually get to New Zealand’s major cities directly, without changing flights, but if your desires lie regional, there may be a connecting service first. 

Next, you’ll need transport, and what better way to see the ‘land of the long white cloud’ than with a motorhome. Enter thl’s brands Maui, Apollo, Britz, Cheapa Campa and Mighty Campers and you’ll be on the road with your bed in tow. 

For train and scenery buffs, Great Journeys New Zealand is also onboard with three of its iconic rail journeys also part of the program. Take your pick from the one-day Northern Explorer between Wellington and Auckland; the six-hour Coastal Pacific between Christchurch and Picton or the five-hour TranzAlpine, which cuts right through the country’s mountainous spine. 

If you prefer a more traditional hotel, some of New Zealand’s best properties are rolling out the welcome mat, including Auckland’s Hotel Britomart or The Rees Hotel right on the lakeside in Queenstown.  

Outside of these cities, a PurePod eco-cabin might be your best option in regional New Zealand, with minimalist luxury set up in Rotorua, Kaikoura, Greta Valley, Otago, Stewart Island and many more. 

Of course, the reason you’re there is to sample the seemingly endless array of things to do, and depending on your preferred scale of extreme, there are tantalising options at both ends. 

If you find yourself in Christchurch, New Zealand’s highest and longest zipline might take your fancy, with one particular stretch over 1km long and 150 metres above the ground. That sort of pulse-racing behaviour is not everybody’s cup of tea however, and if you hop in your car or motorhome and head 90 minutes north, you’ll come to Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools where you can bask in one of 22 outdoor thermal pools. 

Speaking of hot water, Rotorua is known for its geothermal activity, with a bevy of bubbling mud pools and geysers that literally could erupt at any second. Check it out at Te Puia with a guided tour by day or night. 

I could go on and on about the discounts and deals available across New Zealand, but you’re probably just wanting to know how you can get your piece of it all. 

All it takes is an easy online application form – available HERE – and you’ll hear back from Explore New Zealand in about a week.  

Planning is key to any good famil, so make sure you apply at least two months ahead of departure and book your experiences generally at least 30 days in advance. Some businesses may have daily limits on how many discounts they can offer, and as this is a popular program, getting in early will put you in with the best chance. 

Once approved, you’ll receive an Explore ID which you’ll need to quote when contacting each participating business. Some make things easy by providing a discount code that you can use and book on their website. 

For all of this flexibility and hospitality, the only thing Tourism New Zealand ask ahead of your trip is to quickly complete a pre-famil survey to tell them about the booking process so the program can be refined in future years. At the other end of your trip, there will be a post-famil survey to gather your thoughts on all things New Zealand and your overall experience. 

To get your adventure started, agents just need to complete ten 100% Pure New Zealand Specialist online training modules, which will come in handy when you’re talking to clients about their own trip and will also provide plenty of inspiration on things you might like to do too. 

Apart from that, you’ll just need to join Tourism New Zealand’s Travel Specialists Facebook group HERE and sign up to the travel trade newsletter HERE.

In a few short clicks, you could be planning your New Zealand adventure your way, with all of the fun and none of the formality.

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