A word from Dylan Rushbrook, Tourism Central Otago general manager


We’re not in competition

I have had many people ask me how Central Otago is going to attract people away from Queenstown and Wanaka since the announcement of the international border re-openings.

My answer is always the same.

“We will have learned nothing from the past two years if we keep thinking we are competing against Queenstown, Wanaka or any other corner of the Otago- Southland region.”

Let’s be honest – Queenstown is unique.

No-one can argue just how breathtaking that first moment of arrival is when stepping off a plane with the Remarkables mountains looking down on you.

Queenstown has an abundance of stunning eateries, accommodation and commercial tourism activities that are among some of the best in the world.

Standing on the lakefront at Wanaka with views of contrasting lake and mountains all around is stunningly beautiful.

With its easy access to some of the best active outdoor adventures you’ll find on this planet, why would you not want to visit?

Central Otago offers a counterpoint, with bike trails, living history, small towns, authentic and characterful people and, of course, the world’s best pinot noir, and holds its own place in the hearts of travellers, just like its residents.

People who choose to live in the Maniototo will likely be different to those who choose to live in Clyde, Wanaka, Glenorchy or Queenstown.

So, too, are the visitors who choose these locations.

In 2017, Tourism Central Otago undertook research to understand the personas of our visitors, and how we might best find and attract those people.

That research and the more recent re-check consolidated our thinking that there is a visitor persona that Central Otago appeals to.

I say with confidence that this persona is different to who Queenstown and Wanaka appeals to.

But naturally there is some crossover, which opens the door to collaboration with our neighbours.

The Lake Dunstan Trail might be the driver for their travel, but they are also likely to travel wider across the region due to their proximity.

A visitor will never see the arbitrary borders between districts. They see stunning landscapes, world-class experiences, cycle trails and communities.

After all, where else in the world can you go from getting off a plane surrounded by mountains and lakes then within a two to three-hour drive visit the untouched wilderness that is Fiordland, the rugged coastlines of Southland, the Catlins, Otago Peninsula or the big skies and rocky landscapes of Central Otago?

We’re not looking to attract people away from Queenstown, Wanaka or any other region.

We’re instead seeking to attract our personas who love Central Otago for the special place that it is. This is a time for opening up those opportunities to work with our neighbouring regions, to make travellers aware just how special and unique every corner of Otago and Southland truly is.