New Zealand

From Queenstown to New York: Kiwi tourism operators sell NZ dream to US

The initiative comes on the heels of a historic surge in US visitor arrivals during the December-January summer period

In a bid to showcase the unparalleled beauty and cultural richness of New Zealand, a group of 25 Kiwi tourism operators has descended upon the United States. Their mission is to entice more travellers from the US to experience the majestic landscapes and diverse experiences of Aotearoa, particularly Auckland and Queenstown.

The initiative comes on the heels of a historic surge in US visitor arrivals during the December-January summer period, marking a remarkable 4 percent increase compared to the pre-pandemic high of 2019-2020. Additionally, there was a staggering 31 percent rise compared to the same period in 2022-2023. This surge coincides with New Zealand enjoying its strongest-ever connectivity with North America and a favourable exchange rate.

A group of 25 New Zealand tourism operators are visiting the United States to promote travel to the country,
and share the Tiaki Promise – a commitment to care for New Zealand.

The group of Kiwi tourism operators is embarking on a tour of seven cities across the United States to promote three night stays in both Auckland and Queenstown as the perfect foundation to any New Zealand itinerary. Auckland and Queenstown are ideal destinations for travellers seeking enriching experiences and central to their message is the Tiaki Promise – a commitment to care for New Zealand’s natural beauty and indigenous culture.

Annie Dundas, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited Director of Destination, who is travelling with the group, expressed enthusiasm about the high demand for New Zealand among American travellers. She highlighted the appeal of Auckland and Queenstown, emphasising their diverse offerings, from cultural experiences to world-class golf resorts like Te Arai Links.

Sharing New Zealand’s indigenous Māori culture and the significance of the Tiaki Promise has resonated deeply with American audiences, according to Dundas.

Auckland, New Zealand’s largest and most diverse city, boasts a vibrant cultural scene, stunning beaches, and a thriving food and wine culture. Meanwhile, Queenstown is renowned for its four distinct seasons, myriad of attractions, and commitment to sustainable tourism practices.

Mat Woods, Chief Executive of Destination Queenstown, emphasised the importance of responsible tourism, urging visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture while minimising their environmental impact.

Research by Tourism New Zealand indicates a significant audience of approximately 51 million Americans actively considering a visit to New Zealand within the next three years.

Scott Tasker, Auckland Airport Chief Customer Officer, highlighted the unprecedented air connectivity between North America and New Zealand, with multiple airlines offering direct routes to Auckland.

Auckland’s status as the most connected city in Australasia to North America, coupled with Queenstown’s popularity as a visitor destination, positions the Auckland-Queenstown experience as a compelling proposition for North American travellers.

Auckland cityscape from Devonport – Image courtesy of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, Auckland Airport, and Destination Queenstown are working in partnership to leverage their collective resources and promote the Auckland-Queenstown experience to North American leisure, business, and incentive travellers.

With New Zealand emerging as a top destination for American travellers, the collaboration between Kiwi tourism operators and their US counterparts is poised to further enhance tourism ties between the two nations.

Operators in attendance:

  • Accor Hotels
  • Altitude Tours
  • Destination Queenstown
  • Explore Group New Zealand
  • Fullers 360
  • Glenorchy Air
  • Heliworks Queenstown
  • Heritage Hotels
  • Millennium & Copthorne Hotels
  • Ngāi Tahu Tourism
  • Oxbow Adventure Co
  • RealNZ
  • Skyline Queenstown
  • Southern Discoveries
  • Sudima Hotels
  • Tātaki Auckland Unlimited
  • Te Arai Links
  • Te Manutaupua
  • The Big Foody Food Tours
  • The Helicopter Line
  • Wētā Workshop Unleashed
  • Ziptrek Ecotours


  • Eight airlines fly to/from Auckland, offering significant customer choice of up to 84 flights per week over the summer period. 
  • Auckland is connected to six non-stop destinations year-round in North America; Los Angeles LAX, San Francisco SFO, Houston IAH, New York JFK, Honolulu HNL, and Vancouver YVR. In addition, there is a seasonal connection to Dallas DFW. Air New Zealand service to Chicago ORD pauses from 31 March 2024 to 25 October 2024.
  • There are 93 connections between Auckland and Queenstown per week.
  • The US was Auckland’s second largest visitor market in 2023, with over 273,000 visitor arrivals to Auckland Airport (13.4 percent of total).    
  • 2023 saw 337,000 visitors from the US to New Zealand, 81 percent of which arrived in Auckland.
  • Statistics New Zealand’s visitor arrivals by country of residence data shows:
    • Arrivals by residents of United States, total New Zealand Ports:
      • December 2019 – January 2020: 99,225
      • December 2022 – January 2023: 78,374
      • December 2023 – January 2024: 103,037

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