New Zealand achieves unprecedented profile in Chinese reality TV show

More than 400 million viewers across China tuned in for season two of Chinese reality show Dad, where are we going? featuring 217 minutes of celebrities travelling around New Zealand.

The celebrity fathers and their children enjoying the steambox experience at Te Puia in Rotorua.

Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand pitched for the rights to host the production in September, with New Zealand becoming the first international destination to ever feature in the show.

The show follows five celebrity fathers and their children (aged from 3 - 8) on an adventure to mystery destinations where they undertake challenges.

The final two episodes of season two were filmed in New Zealand including the all-important season finale.

In Episode 15 the stars were in Rotorua while Episode 16 features the show's stars dressed as Hobbits, Wizards and Elves exploring Hobbiton Movie Set.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says the magnitude of the potential impact for the New Zealand tourism industry is hard to comprehend. 

"This was an unmissable opportunity for us.  

"Think of it like having five celebrity figures all in New Zealand at the same time, making a TV show about their travels. That's how popular these Dads are and this show is, in China.

"The value of all the coverage achieved from this activity is estimated at NZD $169 million, were we to buy that same level of advertising - more than the entire year's budget for Tourism New Zealand."

Since the episodes aired a marketing campaign has gone live in China promoting New Zealand as a holiday destination, featuring some of the experiences and regions visited by the celebrities.

Travel trade partners will be selling official Dad, where are we going? itineraries and public relations activity is ongoing.

Conversations and coverage of New Zealand playing host to the show has been huge with the number of media reports exceeding 8,000 - the popularity of the show ensuring New Zealand is the topic of conversation across China.

Kevin says, "In a market like China the profile this show has given New Zealand as a family friendly, desirable visitor destination, is unprecedented. 

"All of this activity and continued promotion works to ensure destination New Zealand stays top of mind for viewers when considering their next holiday destination."   Destination Rotorua Marketing General Manager Oscar Nathan says Chinese inbound tourism is extremely valuable to Rotorua.

"As Chinese viewers discover more about New Zealand and see well known celebrities in destinations like Rotorua - these sorts of invaluable endorsements coupled with the distinctive features of geothermal, lakes and indigenous culture of our region will only grow the appeal of New Zealand to the growing Chinese global travel market."

Hamilton & Waikato Tourism Chief Executive Kiri Goulter says hosting the final episode of the series was a fantastic opportunity for Hobbiton Movie Set and the region.

"The Chinese visitor market is a growing one for the Hamilton & Waikato region and being part of Dad, where are we going? was an un-paralleled chance to showcase one of our key visitor activities to millions of viewers and potential visitors."

China is New Zealand's second largest visitor market with over 180,000 holiday visitors welcomed into the country for the year-end August 2014, up 7 per cent on the same period last year.

Contact Emma Carter, Senior Communications Advisor, Tourism New; +64 21 243 0386

Notes to the editor

Summary of Episode #15

Chinese audiences were introduced to New Zealand in episode 15 with the celebrity families visiting Rotorua. Mayor of Rotorua Steve Chadwick says having Rotorua play host to Dad, Where Are We Going? was a massive coup for New Zealand, not to mention the region.

"Overall it's quite hard from a New Zealand perspective to comprehend the reach of this show, however we're confident this small insight into the Rotorua way of life will no doubt lead to more Chinese visitors choosing to visit New Zealand and in that Rotorua.

During their time in the region each celebrity family was hosted by a local family in an effort to portray the local Kiwi lifestyle. Steve says, "Rotorua has a very proud legacy of hosting visitors from around the world and having the families share our landscapes, experiences and way of life with these celebrities and their family was such a privilege.

Two of the host families took their Dad's eeling, two hosts took their Dad's mountain biking in the Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest and one family got to experience OGO - bouncing or bounding downhill in a giant ball or Outdoor Gravity Orb (OGO).

As part of the episode, the five Dads are required to undertake 'challenges' both against each other and also together. The mountain biking Dads were challenged to take on one of the Whakarewarewa Forest's level four mountain bike tracks. 

While the episode showed the Dads and their kids giving it a go on the flat, the slope track was a little too daunting and the Dads were unsuccessful in completing it. The eeling Dads were tasked with a slightly less adrenalin fuelled challenge - to catch and smoke an eel with their children.

The OGO challenge had the celebrity father and his daughter racing another OGO down the hill. The following day OGO appeared as one of the top searched key words on Weibo, China's top social media channel, with over 20,000 searches within a 24-hour period.

No visit to Rotorua is complete without experiencing New Zealand's unique Māori culture, and the final scenes of episode 15 show the families being welcomed to Te Puia with a traditional Māori welcome. The fathers and children are then dressed in piu pius with moko painted on their faces, and have the opportunity to learn the haka.

Following the 100-minute episode, a behind the scenes documentary called Together With Dads also aired. The documentary takes viewers behind the scenes of the filming and includes interviews with the celebrities, the host of the programme and the producer.

Summary of Episode #16 - season finale

The season finale, episode 16, sees the celebrities' time in Rotorua come to an end but not before experiencing Hells Gate and trying their skills at rugby. While learning about Hells Gate and its geothermal resources, the fathers are tasked with finding six 'magic rings' - a task which is of great importance later in the episode. The last scenes at Hells Gate show the fathers cooking dinner for themselves and their children in 'the world's biggest Hot Pot'- a geothermal pool.

Hobbiton Movie Set in the Hamilton & Waikato region was the last stop for the celebrity families' New Zealand visit. Their time at Hobbiton Movie Set starts with the Dads playing rugby, joined by their host families and some familiar New Zealand rugby legends including Andrew Mehrtens, Grant Fox and Christian Cullen. Footage shows the Dads picking up rugby fast playing against each other - even the kids give it a go, splitting up in teams with the host family children to try it out. Scoring goals at the wrong end wasn't even dampening the fun they were having.

As night falls and the stars come out the cast are transformed into Hobbits with a feast fit for a king at Hobbiton Movie Set's Green Dragon pub. The magic rings located earlier in the episode are handed out by the host to the children, and their mothers, dressed in Hobbit costume too, appear.

Hamilton & Waikato Tourism Chief Executive Kiri Goulter says, "We have no doubt that the exposure and profile gained through the programme will have a very positive impact for not only Hobbiton Movie Set and the wider Hamilton & Waikato region but for New Zealand as a whole.