New Zealand wins again: Chinese mega-star picks Aotearoa for family celebration

Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand have continued their phenomenal run in attracting China's biggest celebrity names to showcase the country despite increasing competition from other destinations.

Actor, director, singer, screenwriter and university teacher Huang Lei, last seen in New Zealand on season two of reality show 'Dad, where are we going?' has returned with this wife and daughters for a family holiday celebrating the couple's 20 years together.

The family is working alongside Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand to showcase New Zealand as a holiday destination for families and special occasions.

The family of four is coming to the end of an eight-day trip touring the top of the south island, supported by Destination Marlborough, Destination Kaikoura and Christchurch Canterbury Tourism.

Since landing in New Zealand, Huang Lei has made two posts to his Weibo social media account, China's equivalent of Facebook. The posts have achieved over 90,000 likes and the newly created hashtag "20 years of in love" has had more than 1.6 million views.

News of the visit has generated more than 530 media articles with an equivalent advertising value of more than 2.7 million dollars.

Tourism New Zealand's Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says the organisation was delighted to gain this second opportunity with Huang Lei, knowing many other countries were also vying for his attention.

"We first worked with Huang Lei and his daughter Duoduo last year when they travelled here with China's number one show 'Dad, where are we going?'.

"The filming of two episodes in New Zealand was an outstanding success for us. Some 400 million Chinese watched the series and we did not expect to get a second chance with a star with this sort of reach in China.

"But the way we worked with the group while they were here last year, the experiences they enjoyed here and the enduring relationships we built are undoubtedly why the family has chosen to return."

Huang Lei first visited New Zealand on Air New Zealand's inaugural flight from China more than eight years ago and the airline was delighted to fly Huang Lei and his family back to New Zealand on-board its new Boeing B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft from Shanghai to Auckland.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Christopher Luxon says, "Our aim is that all passengers get a taste of New Zealand from the moment they step on-board our aircraft and our mix of Kiwi and Chinese cabin crew ensured Huang Lei and his family experienced our uniquely New Zealand style of service."

"This collaboration with Huang Lei and our ongoing partnership with Tourism New Zealand in recent high impact media projects have brought tremendous value to New Zealand and Air New Zealand."

The China market continues to be a standout success for the tourism industry with visitor arrivals up 26 percent for the year ending April 2015.

Holiday arrivals are also up 27 percent and average expenditure is up 34 percent for the year ending March 2015.

Committed to safer driving

Tourism New Zealand has seized the opportunity to use Huang Lei's visit as a way to get a serious message across about driving conditions in New Zealand- something the celebrity himself was more than happy to help with.

As part of his stay, Huang Lei will film a short video that encourages Chinese travellers to think carefully before committing to a self-drive holiday in New Zealand.

"We know that driving in New Zealand is totally unique and that visitors may be unprepared for what awaits them, particularly in terms of our roads and driving conditions," says Kevin.

"As part of our efforts to make information more readily available to travel agents and potential visitors, we were on the look-out for an influential celebrity who might join us in this work. 

"Huang Lei's commitment to the safety of his family meant he was happy to deliver our key message as part of his trip - that whilst self-driving is a great way to see New Zealand, driving here is very different to driving in China and visitors should consider all their transport options before booking self-drive".

The video will be distributed through all Tourism New Zealand owned channels in China and through public relations activity as well as aired on Air New Zealand's inflight entertainment programme.

The use of influencers in China

Tourism New Zealand's first major success using influencers in China came when it secured Yao Chen as tourism ambassador in 2012 and 2013. 

Already an acclaimed actress, Yao Chen rose in popularity to become the most followed person on social media during her time as tourism ambassador with followers on Weibo increasing from 5.7 million in Feb 2011 to 43.6 million by March 2013.

Yao Chen was so enamoured by New Zealand that she chose to marry in Queenstown in November 2012.

Media coverage of the event achieved around NZD$60 million in media coverage with some 6,900 media stories about the event produced.

Dad, where are we going?

'Dad, where are we going?' is arguably the most watched reality show in the world with some 400 million Chinese viewers tuning in over the course of season two's 16 episodes.

The final two episodes were filmed in New Zealand, the first and only time the show has used an international destination. 

The 200 minutes of New Zealand television generated some NZD$178 million in value for Tourism New Zealand.

The show's trip to Rotorua and Hamilton was as a result of a partnership between Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand and c Hunan TV.

About the family

One of the most popular and famous actors in China, Huang Lei is also a director, singer, screenwriter and university teacher. He has a passion for food and cooking and loves and collects wine. He has 18.7 million Weibo fans (the Chinese equivalent of Facebook).

Sun Li is also an actress.  She has 2.6 million weibo fans. Their two daughters are nine year old Huang Yici, nicknamed Duoduo, and Huang Shaoai, born in 2014.


Contact Georgina Maguire, Communications Advisor, Tourism New Zealand; +64 21 478 659