Kohutapu Lodge and Tribal Tours won the Regenerative Tourism Award at the New Zealand Tourism Awards 2022. Photo / Supplied
A small Māori-owned tourism business from Murupara has been awarded the most prestigious new tourism award in Aotearoa.
Kohutapu Lodge and Tribal Tours was crowned the supreme winner of the New Zealand Tourism Awards 2022 after being named the first recipient of the new Regenerative Tourism Award.
This new award is given to a business that prioritises community wellbeing, represents Aotearoa’s culture and values, offers an outstanding visitor experience and is fronted by a profitable enterprise with high levels of social responsibility.
The news was announced during the annual awards dinner hosted by Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) in Kirikiriroa Hamilton.
TIA chief executive Rebecca Ingram said Kohutapu Lodge was a deserving recipient.
“It was humbling to hear how Kohutapu Lodge works closely with its community to ensure the business is living and breathing regenerative tourism, from educating visitors about te ao Māori to ensuring the survival of the longfin tuna (eel),” she said.
Set amongst lush native bush, overlooking Lake Aniwhenua, Kohutapu Lodge is 55 minutes from Rotorua and 40 minutes from Whakatāne.
Guests can partake in dozens of activities from outdoor adventures like fishing, mountain biking and walking tours, to more cultural pursuits such as weaving, haka lessons and eel fishing at night.
This isn’t the first time Kohutapu Lodge and Tribal Tours have been recognised for their community-focused approach to tourism.
In 2019 they were awarded the New Zealand Tourism Award for community engagement and were successful participants in the 2018 and 2019 New Zealand Māori Tourism Dragons Den.
Other New Zealand Tourism Awards Winners
Held annually, the New Zealand Tourism Awards work to promote tourism, celebrate the contribution it makes and acknowledge environmentally sustainable and forward-thinking tourism businesses and individuals that embrace kaitiakitanga (guardianship).
The award for Tourism Talent Employer of Choice went to iFLY Indoor Skydiving NZ Ltd in Queenstown for the second year running.
Judges said the company demonstrated having an “inclusive environment, happy staff, happy customers, and the passion and leadership shown by the owner who puts staff welfare above everything else”.
Kohutapu Lodge won the Tourism Industry New Zealand Trust Community Engagement Award. Despite losing 98 per cent of their business due to Covid-19, they continued to focus on the community, launching two new ventures and running life-changing programs for rangatahi.
The NZME Visitor Experience Award went to the Hollyford Wilderness Experience, which offers visitors a powerful insight into the land through an immersive, off-grid experience that incorporates tikanga and te reo.
Meanwhile, the He Toa Takitini Māori Tourism Award was won by Kāpiti Island Nature Tours.
“The whānau involved in this legacy business embodies all that is best in Māori tourism,” said the judges.
The Department of Conservation – Conservation Award went to The Landing. Set in the Bay of Islands, judges described the coastal property as “extraordinary” after planting 1.25 million trees and investing into protecting the kiwi population.
The Environment Award was won by Wellington’s East By West Ferries for launching the Southern Hemisphere’s first zero-emission, fully electric, fast passenger ferry. Judges said the feat was “a low intensity operation that screams ‘the future”.
Queenstown’s Altitude Tours won the Westpac Resilience and Innovation Award with judges noting the inspirational way they collaborated with other tourism businesses.
On the theme of collaboration, the Tourism New Zealand Industry Collaboration Award went to Regional Tourism New Zealand.
Specifically, the Te Ūnga Mai programme, which upskills Regional Tourism Organisations.
TIA’s Ingram said the award winners were a beacon for the future of tourism.
“It was an absolute honour to witness so many incredible leaders and inspirational businesses being recognised for their hard work as we move into more optimistic times,” she said.
“These businesses are leading the way and showing how our tourism industry can positively contribute to our communities while giving back more than it takes.”
All New Zealand Tourism Awards 2022 Winners
Airbnb Regenerative Tourism Award – Kohutapu Lodge & Tribal Tours Ltd
Tourism Industry New Zealand Trust Community Engagement Award – Kohutapu Lodge & Tribal Tours Ltd
Department of Conservation – Conservation Award – The Landing
Tourism Talent Employer of Choice Award – iFLY Indoor Skydiving NZ LTD
Environment Award – East By West Company Limited
Tourism New Zealand Industry Collaboration Award – Regional Tourism New Zealand
He Toa Takitini Māori Tourism Award – Kapiti Island Nature Tours
Westpac Resilience and Innovation Award – Altitude Tours
NZME Visitor Experience Award – Hollyford Wilderness Experience
Individual Award Winners
PATA New Zealand Trust Emerging Tourism Leader Award – Alex Dykman, Maverick Digital
Marsh Tourism Industry Champion Award – John Barrett, Kāpiti Island Nature Tours
Sir Jack Newman Award for Outstanding Industry Leader – Jeroen Jongejans (posthumously)