Wellington wildlife sanctuary Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne has been crowned the top tourism operation in the country for 2023.
Zealandia was presented with the Air New Zealand Supreme Tourism Award at the New Zealand Tourism Awards this evening in its hometown of Te Whanganui-a-Tāra Wellington.
Judges said Zealandia was a local icon and a “worthy exemplar” for others to follow, consistently demonstrating the qualities that the tourism industry held dear.
Receiving their award, Zealandia’s Chief Executive Dr Danielle Shanahan said the award really was “one for the birds”.
“Zealandia has absolutely transformed what tourism means in Aotearoa New Zealand, and it’s because of some incredible people – volunteers, staff members, trustees. These are the people who make this place hum, who make Wellington thrive.”
Tourism Industry Aotearoa Chief Executive Rebecca Ingram said she was delighted with the judges’ choice.
“Zealandia is everything we love about tourism: protecting our wildlife, telling our unique story, thrilling visitors and beloved by its community.”
Organised by Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA), the Tourism Awards provide a benchmark of excellence in the industry and highlight its contribution to New Zealand.
As well as the Supreme Award, Zealandia took home the Airbnb Tourism Excellence Award (Small-Medium Business). Judges said the attraction had strong metrics and values, a truly impressive masterplan and its 500-plus band of volunteers who no doubt agreed.
Overall, there were more than 120 entries in this year’s awards and Ms Ingram said she wanted to warmly congratulate everyone who entered.
“It’s been an honour to hear the stories of these companies and the ways they’ve found, sometimes against tough odds, to thrive and widely contribute to their communities,” she said.
“The values that are shining through a lot of these entries are very affirming, qualities that no doubt win them much support from their host communities and visitors alike.”