There are many 'received wisdoms' in New Zealand tourism. One of the more annoying of these is "to see New Zealand, you need to get out of Auckland". Many itineraries, put together by junior people around the world with little product knowledge and very little client contact, follow this precept and shoot people out as fast as they can to those great uncommercial parts of "real New Zealand", such as Waitomo or Rotorua. Yes, well....
What this has done over the years is leave us Aucklanders with relatively few inflexible, fixed tourism products and a lot of unspoilt uncrowded places in which to enjoy ourselves. Auckland has become a breath of fresh air in an increasingly marketed, segmented, regulated, Qualmarked, cycleway-enthusiastic and eco-bandwagonned country.
We had one of Spain's top luxury agents here earlier this month. She absolutely loved her two days in Auckland and wants all her clients to spend time here. Why?
- the Hauraki Gulf is an unspoiled,
undeveloped, incredible resource for Aucklanders and 'light-footprint'
luxury travellers both. Add classic or modern launches, yachts or a fleet of waka and it really is paradise
- Waiheke Island and the excellent work done by Ananda Tours over the years to present it properly are delightful
- Delamore Lodge on Waiheke Island is an extremely high quality wonderful and sophisticated sanctuary
- the West Coast, especially with phenomenal Karekare and Whatipu beaches is a wild, natural, beautiful resource. On walks here I have met maybe 5-6 other people in 8km, whereas in Abel Tasman (without a doubt beautiful) I have seen 60-100 other people in a similar distance
Add to this our service - which includes a priority channel arrival at Auckland Airport, a mayor as a guide, top landscape gardener, art expert, rally driving supremo, helicopter flying lessons, top real estate broker, ex-chairman of the NZ wine exporters association as interesting people and activities, plus the standard tourism product widely available here, superb restaurants and some decent accommodation. And it's looking pretty special.
Another agent, from Russia this time, is looking at using Auckland for an islands and beach adventure for a VIP group. Not the Coromandel, not Northland.
Certainly, from a luxury perspective, Auckland is really quite an exciting place. But, as always, how exciting it is depends on how exciting your hosts are.