Thursday, December 1, 2011

Just Back From...New Zealand!

The green beauty of New Zealand 

LDPR's executive vice president Leslie Cohen just returned from an amazing trip to the youngest country on earth -- New Zealand -- and shares some highlights.

I was fortunate to represent LDPR at the 56th annual convention of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) held in Wellington, New Zealand in November 2011.  Realizing what a tremendous opportunity it would be, I added time before and after the business meetings to tour with my husband Rich. 

Me and the famous Kiwi bird (full disclosure: it's not real since they are nocturnal animals)
We started the journey on the  food & wine trail of the Hawke's Bay region, located on the east coast of the North Island.  From the moment we landed we were greeted with Kia Ora which means welcome in the native Maori culture. Hawke's Bay is known for its culinary innovation and cultural diversity. We were in awe of the natural beauty which was only matched by the friendliness of the locals. I want to give a special "shout out" to our New Zealand tourism guide, Vicky Roebuck, who was an outstanding ambassador.  We visited Napier, which has a unique Art Deco heritage, and spent an amazing overnight at the Farm at Cape Kidnappers, a luxury lodge set within a real working farm.  Rich and I agreed it was one of the most special places we have ever stayed at.

Then it was on to Wellington, the site of the SATW convention, where I reunited with many friends and colleagues. I think it was one of the largest attended conferences, with more than 400 participants including writers, editors, bloggers, photographers, PR people like me, and spouses. It was a wonderful five days of professional development, networking, sightseeing and attending the media marketplace session for one-on-one meetings with the press.  I have to commend the SATW leadership for organizing such a professional and memorable program!  Since Rich is a big fan of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, I signed us up for a half-day tour of "Middle Earth" lead by an actor who was in all three films. He showed some of the locations and provided behind-the-scenes stories. Many people were talking about the "Hobbit," which is currently filming in the country. It seems that director Peter Jackson is quite the local celebrity and has done a lot to develop the film-making industry in New Zealand.

Some call Wellington, "Wellywood" for its movie-making magic
Then we flew to Tauranga to the Coromandel/Bay of Plenty coastline region, also on the North Island This part of the trip was more active (thank goodness since we had been eating nonstop!).  Here we enjoyed an evening kayak trip to view glow worms, hiked in the bush with Kiwi Dundee, relaxed in the salt water pools by Mount Maunganui and paddled a sea kayak to Cathedral Cove.  

Rich and me at Cathedral Cove
Rich and I thoroughly enjoyed our New Zealand trip and highly recomend friends add it to their own "bucket list."

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For over 20 years LDPR has guided some of the world’s most prestigious travel brands through an evolving media landscape with creativity, professionalism and enthusiasm. We are a highly driven and innovative travel and lifestyle public relations agency based in New York City with a global roster of clients from destinations and tour companies to exclusive private islands, hotels and resorts. Our unique culture is defined by our collaborative and strategic approach to working with clients, media and our staff, leading to a strong partnership with measurable results.