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Break away and support local.

Tags: Rural Rural Insight

With international travel off the table for the foreseeable future due to closed borders, Kiwis are being encouraged to see more of New Zealand and to redirect their leisure dollars into local economies.


Pre-pandemic, the rural tourism sector was resonating with overseas tourists looking for authentic experiences away from the bright lights and traditional hot spots.

With that market gone for now, it leaves compelling opportunities for New Zealanders to explore the country and holiday without passports.

Bayleys’ national director rural Duncan Ross, says the agri-sector was an essential service through lockdown and our exports will be essential to rebuilding economic success.

He adds that while capacity constraints on our processors have impacted the wider industry, the agri-tourism sector has taken a real hit.

“There’s now an opportunity for Kiwis nationwide to look at how they can support rural communities,” he says.

“I think there is a new appreciation for the value the wider primary sector brings to New Zealand.

“The enforced lockdown has made us tired of our own four walls so it’s a good time to venture to rural New Zealand and discover what overseas visitors rave about.”

Matt Clutterbuck, Bayleys Bay of Plenty lifestyle and country sales manager says before COVID-19, there was tangible evidence that the gap between rural and city was closing.

“There were open days on orchards, Fonterra open gate days and landowners starting up tourism ventures on their properties to provide a full insight into how a working farm runs day-to-day,” he says.

“As we emerge from imposed restrictions domestically, the rural Bay of Plenty lifestyle has many drawcards for Kiwis looking for a break close to home.

“There’s also strong demand from buyers looking for rural properties with potential for short-term guest accommodation or as tourism ventures for an additional income stream.”

“There’s also strong demand from buyers looking for rural properties with potential for short-term guest accommodation or as tourism ventures for an additional income stream.”

Waikato-based dairy farmer Michele Connell is the co-founder of Off the Beaten Track (OTBT), a business promoting privately-owned rural properties via a Kiwi-owned and operated website booking portal.

OTBT is free for rural property owners to register with, there are no contracts and all money stays in New Zealand, rather than being funnelled offshore.

The company takes a small fee from each transaction between landowners and holidaymakers.

There are options to stay in some of the country’s best-kept secret spots from modest farm cottages, lodges, glamping tents, old-school caravans, mud houses, historic homes and former worker accommodation.

Michele says during lockdown they worked proactively with their partner landowners, reviewed the user experience of the OTBT website and looked to encourage more landowners to sign up.

“We’d love to add to our line-up of accommodation and experiences as many rural landowners don’t realise they could share their piece of paradise and diversify their income – often without costing them anything additional, and simply using what they already own.

“At OTBT , we are actively building a tribe of ‘New Zealand lovers’ and see our job as bringing the people to landowners, and encouraging them to look at what else they could offer to create additional income like a farm tour, picnic basket on arrival, interaction with animals, or access to a fishing spot.”

While the OTBT properties have always welcomed New Zealanders, the COVID-19 situation means the way Kiwis holiday has changed.

“Gone for now is the desire to stay in crowded campgrounds or high-rise hotels in favour of great local hospitality and places to create new memories,” says Michele.

“Plus, the tourist dollar flow-on that occurs in rural communities and small towns is really beneficial.

“New Zealand is too beautiful not to share and if ever we needed Kiwis to support our local businesses, it’s now.”

“New Zealand is too beautiful not to share and if ever we needed Kiwis to support our local businesses, it’s now.”

In rural Rangitikei, Kylie and Andrew Stewart and their two young daughters welcome guests to the 631-hectare farm “Tyrone” that has been in Stewart family ownership since 1901.

Rangitikei Farmstay in Marton is a place for visitors to stay and see a working sheep and beef farm in action, to appreciate farm animals, enjoy the native bush, take a farm walk with mountain to sea views and to see old relics that are part of the property’s history.

“Feedback from visitors reinforces that the ordinary things we experience everyday can be extraordinary for others,” says Kylie.

“Pre-COVID-19, we hosted International guests most weeks, but it’s been really heart-warming to see local support as we start to see domestic travel kick in again.”

“With the ability to sleep 18 people in a unique and flexible setting with various accommodation and self-catering options, we are seeing bookings for intergenerational family gatherings and groups of friends looking to have a good catch-up.

“There is so much to see and explore in New Zealand’s backyard – and now we have it to ourselves to enjoy without the crowds.”

 

Off The Beaten Track

offthebeatentrack.co.nz/

Rangitikei Farmstay

rangitikeifarmstay.co.nz/

 

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