Destination: New Zealand

If Only It Were Raining Men: ‘Man-Drought’ Hits New Zealand

Forget the Maori culture. Tourism New Zealand has launched an unusual campaign promoting the nation’s “man drought” as the perfect reason for guys to pay a visit. In what’s begun to sound more like a desperate plea for a date than an ad campaign, the tourism board released a press release stating, “It has been revealed that the women of New Zealand have a far more difficult job than Brits when it comes to finding Mr. Right.”

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Air New Zealand Introduces Cutting-Edge Messaging Plan

Air New Zealand has unveiled an unusual plan to let airport visitors know about its new, faster check-in system: “Cranial billboards.” They’ll be hiring 50 people to shave their heads, have messages about the new check-in procedures temporarily tattooed on their bare scalps and then loiter around the airport in view of passersby.

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‘Long-Neck Women’ Fight Against Confinement in ‘Human Zoos’

Photo by babasteve, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Marie Claire, The Age and the Times UK are among the publications with recent stories about the plight of the “long-neck women,” a group of Kayan refugees from Burma who are known for wearing brass coils around their necks. Tourists from around the world flock to Northern Thailand to see them, but many of the long-neck women have apparently had enough of living in a “human zoo.” Several of the women have removed their coils and are fighting to move to New Zealand and Finland, where they have been offered resettlement.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has taken up their cause, but so far no exit visas have materialized. The stories allege that the Thai government refuses to let the women leave, fearing that their departure will hurt tourism in the region.

Is Colombia the New New Zealand?

We’ve been tracking Colombia’s rise from narcotics netherworld to “hipster tropical destination du jour” for some time now, and it looks like an upcoming potential blockbuster movie could help complete the transition. “Love in the Time of Cholera,” based on the novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, hits North American theaters in November. Last week Jaunted predicted an accompanying movie-tourism explosion. Amandak writes: “If you haven’t read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s fantastic book Love in the Time of Cholera you should, now. It’s about to become for Colombia what Lord of the Rings was for New Zealand: a major tourism generator. The nice part is that Garcia Marquez really did set his book in Colombia, whereas the whole Lord of the Rings thing was kind of a scam, really.”

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I Have $6,000 For a Trip to Asia and the South Pacific. Any Tips?

Vagabonding traveler Rolf Potts answers your questions about travel

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The Best in ‘Geek’ Travel: From Tokyo to Tatooine

Where does someone who’s, say, willing to spend days in line waiting in line for an iPhone go on his or her travels? Apparently, where there’s a lot of technology and, in one case, nuclear fallout. Among the “geek vacation” spots recommended by Christopher Null in Wired’s July issue: New Zealand (for “The Lord of the Rings” movie locations); the South Pole (“Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station will warm any geek’s heart”); Tokyo’s Akihabara district (the “ultimate red-light district for gadget fetishists”); and Prypyat, Ukraine. Prypyat is “a town whose 47,000 inhabitants had to split within 36 hours of the meltdown” of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Sounds better suited for Dark Travelers.

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The World Hum Travel Zeitgeist: The Naked and the Red

From Sin City to St. Petersburg, Russia, we’re not worried about traveling with too many clothes this week. Here’s the Zeitgeist.

Photo of monument in St. Petersburg by zakgollop, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Most E-Mailed Travel Story
New York Times (current)
36 Hours in St. Petersburg, Russia

Most E-Mailed Travel Story
USA Today (current)
Sin City Uncovered: Vegas Strips Down to Embrace its Naughty Side
* It’s an $8 billion embrace.

Most Viewed Travel Story
Telegraph (current)
The Perfect Break: Jersey
* The island, not the home of Bon Jovi.

Most Viewed Travel Story
Brisbane Times (current)
Gang Violence Marring NZ’s Image

Most Viewed Travel Story
Los Angeles Times (current)
A Mass-Transit Trek Through Portland’s Singular Sites

Top Travel and Adventure Audiobook
iTunes (current)
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Best Selling Travel Book (current)
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert
* It’s been so many weeks now we’ve stopped counting.

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Bring Your Tray Tables to the Upright Position and…Duck!

The pilot of a Lan airline jet reported seeing flaming debris fall past his plane as he prepared for a landing in Auckland. NASA officials suspect it was meteors. You want space tourism? Lan’s got your space tourism.

How Pure Are New Zealand’s ‘100% Pure’ Ads?

Less than 100%, say some critics. Why? “One advertisement shows an idyllic scene of two kayakers with dolphins swimming around their canoes,” reports TVNZ. “But the image is not a single photo. Instead it is a digital adjustment which blends two different photos—one of dolphins and the other of kayakers—together.” Tourism New Zealand spokesperson George Hickton defends the image as representative of what goes on in the country every day, “and therefore it’s a 100% pure New Zealand experience.” Hmmm. It’s not as misleading as the recent Nepal-Peru mix-up, but when you’re promoting your country as 100% pure you might want to avoid doctoring photos. Via Jaunted.

Nation Branding: What the World Can Learn From Spain, India and New Zealand

They’re “universally acknowledged to be the crown jewels in the recent annals of nation branding,” writes John Cook in the January 2007 issue of Travel + Leisure, the latest publication to address one of our favorite topics: how countries present themselves in an effort to lure travelers. Cook recounts success stories—Spain’s transformation from a “sleepy low-rent vacation spot for the British and German working classes to a hip, cutting-edge cultural destination” and New Zealand’s capitalization on its starring role in the Lord of the Rings trilogy—but, more interestingly, also examines countries with branding problems. Among them: Serbia, Ecuador and Kazakhstan.

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The World Hum Travel Zeitgeist: Beppe, Borat, Bungees and Bunnies

Beppe Severgnini returns to the top, and so does the Playboy Club. Travelers and armchair travelers have an eye on both this week as the Zeitgeist ventures to Oaxaca, New Zealand, Italy, Colorado and the 52nd floor of the Palms in Las Vegas.

Best Selling Travel Book (current)
La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind by Beppe Severgnini

Most Popular Page Tagged Travel (current)

Most E-Mailed Travel Story
New York Times (current)
Where the Moon Stood Still, and the Ancients Watched (Chimney Rock, Colorado)
* The current most e-mailed story overall at the New York Times, however, is our kind of travel story: Kazakhs Shrug at ‘Borat’ While the State Fumes

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Kiwis Sour on U.S., and it’s Getting Personal

And a bit ugly. According to a story in the Christian Science Monitor, a recent poll found that while 54 percent of Kiwis had positive feelings about the U.S. in 2001, only 29 percent of them feel that way today. Perhaps more surprising is that Americans in New Zealand are getting an earful. One American teacher on the North Island got so tired of verbal abuse from his students, he filed a complaint with the country’s Human Rights Commission.

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New Zealander Captures Eerie Image of Sunken Soviet Cruise Ship

Ghostly, isn’t it? Ken Grange of New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research used an ultrasound device to capture this image of the ill-fated Soviet Union cruise liner the Mikhail Lermontov, which sank more than 20 years ago in New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds. The ship was the largest cruise liner to sink since Titanic, and is now a popular dive spot as well as a magnet for conspiracy theorists who believe the ship may have been used as a spy vessel by the Soviets.

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New Zealand’s Surging “Frodo Economy”

Today’s Los Angeles Times features a fascinating front-page story about the tourists flocking to New Zealand to see where “Lord of the Rings” was filmed—a phenomenon locals have come to call the “Frodo economy” after the trilogy’s hero. The article features the story of the Alexanders and their lush sheep farm where part of the trilogy was shot. When film fans, including a German tourist dressed as Frodo, began making pilgrimages to the farm, the Alexanders decided to start a small company to organize the visits. “When they started in December, they expected to welcome about two dozen tourists a month,” according to the article. “Instead, more than 12,000 visitors have discovered the farm over the last 11 months and happily have paid $30 each to visit it. Without buying a single ad, the family’s tiny tourism business has pulled in nearly $350,000 from Tolkien fans a sum more than 20 times the average annual income here.”  Registration required to access article.