Ride ahead looks great for Aussie visitors

Cycling is the fastest growing participation sport in Australia so there's huge interest in our latest push to get more visitors to New Zealand to experience a cycling holiday.

Statistics shows 10 percent of visitors from Australia already include cycling as part of their visit to New Zealand and nearly a quarter of all Australian visitors are open to the idea of trying out a bike trip - so there is plenty we can do to illustrate how spectacular these two-wheeled journeys can be.

Tourism New Zealand has identified cycling as a special interest activity with the potential to drive shoulder season travel and attract higher value visitors.

TNZ hosted a cycling launch event in Sydney for 93 Australian travel trade and media on Thursday 30 April. The event provided TNZ with an opportunity to officially launch New Zealand's unique cycling proposition (23 Great Rides) in Australia, and provide key partners with a market update. The event positioned New Zealand as a world-class cycle destination for Australian travellers, and brought to life New Zealand's unique cycle story. An interactive 3D map of New Zealand was on display - IPADS stationed around the map housed TNZ's cycling microsite where guests could further explore the cycle trails.

Since the launch and national media coverage, we are already seeing a big increase in the number of people who want to know more about the New Zealand trails.

The attraction of Nga Haerenga - The New Zealand Cycle Trail is that it offers something for all ages and skill levels.  The 23 routes that are classified as Great Rides are predominantly off-road trails that showcase the best of the country's landscape, environment, culture and heritage.

Potential travellers want to know more about the 2,500 kilometres of trails that include everything from riding in subtropical forests in the far North to taking in sweeping alpine vistas, mountains and lakes in the South Island. There's a real appeal about the trails that are hidden away from roads yet close to everything - including food and wine.

Some of the most popular trails include the abandoned gold mining country and snow-capped peaks of the Otago Central Rail Trail and West Coast Wilderness Trail, as well as the mighty rivers and geothermal hot pools on the Te Ara Ahi Trail.

The New Zealand Cycle Trail project was announced in 2009, with the objective of creating a high quality tourism asset that would attract more tourists, create jobs, and boost economic growth in the regions. The work is almost complete and going from strength to strength. It's estimated that more than 1,200 jobs have been created and the trails are boosting regional economies.

The launch of the Australian campaign coincided with Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key announcing a further $3 million will be invested in 2015/16 to help fund the completion of Northland's Twin Coast Cycle Trail Pou Herenga Tai.

Visit Tourism New Zealand's online cycling hub for more information www.newzealand.com/au/cycling.