Visitor perceptions research from Australia and New Zealand

What do Australians think about Rotorua? How do other New Zealanders view our city? Do any of them plan to visit us soon?

In this, the first in a series of reports, we share the answers to these questions and more, via the latest visitor perception survey results for 2021.

These surveys are conducted on a regular basis by Wellington-based research agency, Angus and Associates. They conduct ongoing research with Kiwis and Aussies about their perceptions of different destinations around New Zealand. These are updated every six months.
This will be the first in a series where I take you through some of the research and data that is available for all to use. With the borders starting to open up again, we want Rotorua businesses to be as ready as possible with relevant data and insights. At the same time, we’re trying to make information more accessible and self-serviceable with interactive dashboards – more on this in later editions. 
The research covers a bunch of fascinating topics including visitation, demographics, key statements, associations, appeal, propensity to visit, and barriers. This information is essential to all businesses who have domestic or Australian tourists as part of their customer base. Whether you’re organising your marketing plan, refining your strategy, or just looking out to the year ahead, I would recommend reading through the whole report here (PDF). 
But if you just want the short version, I’ve pulled out a few of the highlights. 
If you have any questions, reach out to me, Justin Kimberley, Research and Insights Manager, at     

New Zealand Travellers

Who is travelling here?
  • Auckland is our largest market, with 42% of visitors. Waikato (18%) and Bay of Plenty (12%) are the next largest, respectively. 
  • We continue to be a destination for families, with almost 40% of visitors having young children and another 15% travelling here with older kids. We are underperforming the ranks of the solo traveller. 
  • Travellers in the 50+ age brackets aren’t as likely to travel to Rotorua compared to the rest of New Zealand.
What do travellers think of Rotorua – key statements
  • We are top of mind for mountain biking, level with Queenstown as being a top mountain biking destination.
  • We come out second behind Queenstown for being a family destination. 
  • Travellers have strong associations with nature-based activities and Rotorua, being the top in the country. 
  • We are in the top cohort for being a place you can relax and unwind.

What activities and experiences do travellers associate with Rotorua?
  • Kiwis continue to strongly associate Rotorua with geothermal and Māori culture. This is also apparent in the first thing that comes to mind when Kiwis think of Rotorua – smell, hot pools, mud pools and geothermal (see word cloud below). 
  • Some of our nature-based activities such as mountain biking, hiking and parks are middle of the pack. 


Rotorua’s appeal and the propensity to visit
  • Rotorua continues to be a highly appealing destination to both recent and potential visitors, with 89% and 82%, respectively, saying that it’s an appealing destination. 
  • More than a third of New Zealand travellers plan to visit Rotorua in 2022. This is in line with pre-covid levels. 
  • We’re up against the ‘been there done that’ attitude, with more than half claiming that this is the main barrier to visiting Rotorua. 


Australian travellers

Who is travelling here?
  • More than a third of Australian travellers have visited Rotorua; a quarter haven’t visited but know what you can do here; another quarter have no idea what you can do here; and 15% have never heard of Rotorua!
  • It’s a small sample base of those who travelled here in the last 12 months so I won’t report on the demographics until next time. 
What do people think of Rotorua – key statements
  • We are seen as a destination with lots of nature-based things to do, in line with Bay of Plenty and Queenstown. 
  • Relaxing and unwinding is a strength of Rotorua too, following Queenstown and Bay of Plenty. 
  • Being a family and mountain biking destination are areas for improvement.

What activities and experiences do people associate with Rotorua?
  • It’s a similar order of experiences that Australian travellers associate with Rotorua: geothermal, Māori culture and scenic sight-seeing. 
  • Shopping, mountain biking, adrenaline and water activities are at the bottom of the list. 

Rotorua’s appeal and the propensity to visit
  • Rotorua is a highly appealing destination for Australian travellers, with almost half claiming this, and another 38% saying it’s somewhat appealing. 
  • We can expect a large contingent of Australian travellers to visit us in the next year, with almost a quarter saying they will definitely visit, and another 40% saying they will probably visit.
  • These ‘definite visitors’ are generally in the ‘young family’ category, with many in the 30 to 49 year age bracket and with children aged 14 and under. 
Remember to check out the whole report here (PDF)! 

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