With the long Easter Weekend and school holidays in the mix, we’ve finally had time to update our blog!  Once again it saw Corrie travelling off – on this occasion, to New Zealand, courtesy of the Wellington Convention Bureau.

“Interestingly they asked us all for ‘pre famil’ thoughts – what were our perceptions of Wellington? I have to say it could have been perceived as quite negative at the start... Windy, cold, quite funky, quite like Melbourne really… and so it went on. However, the day our Air New Zealand flight landed in Wellington, it was a calm, perfectly blue skied, balmy autumn day. So, so far, so good!  Martin Boland from the Bureau met us on arrival, and we were transferred to various hotels on what was to be the start of a jam packed, fun filled, highly informative three days. Given the more information on venues the better for us – I wasn’t to be disappointed.

When in Wellington last year, I had stayed at the 5 star Intercontinental Hotel, but this time I was hosted at the newly refurbed Copthorne Oriental Bay.  It is located around the bay – but still within easy walking distance to many of Wellington’s attractions. In fact, because Wellington is “small”, it’s easily walkable, and has the title ‘Wellington – the coolest little capital’ and it definitely made an impression.

Night 1 was at leisure as we waited for our fellow Aussies and NZ famil goers arrive from other ports, so I went to check out a little wine bar/restaurant called‘Pravda’ which was lovely and with the rate of exchange in our favour, also quite good value for money! The first day of the famil started with a leisurely breakfast in our hotel – and to absolute clockwork the rest of the day unfolded filled with surprises, site inspections, Maori Culture, eating, drinking, laughing and generally enjoying our surrounds. Site inspections for the day included the brand new Te Raukura (which only opened on 6 February), Wellington Convention Centre,Amora Hotel and then finishing off with a beautiful dinner at the Museum of New Zealand, ‘Te Papa Tongarewa’ in the presence of the Mayor of Wellington!

Day 2 had the walking shoes well and truly on. Following on from a wonderful yum cha style breakfast on the stage of the main auditorium at the Wellington Convention Centre, it was off to CQ HotelsWest Plaza Hotel, and back to ‘Te Papa’ for a formal site inspection before our surprise lunch. We were treated like stars and whisked away in a stretch limo to Park Road Post Productions, which is the Post Production studios for movies such as ‘The Hobbit’, ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘King Kong’ etc. It was certainly a very special behind the scenes experience, as these facilities do not open to the public.  After the tour we headed back into Wellington and my next activity - 'Zest Food Tours of New Zealand' (which seemed like a good idea at the time, but having eaten and drunk for most of the previous 48 hours, maybe wasn’t really such a great idea!) The food tour took in nooks and crannies of Wellington that only complete foodies would know about – great little partners’ program idea!  Dinner tonight was hosted by ‘Zealandia – The Karori Sanctuary Experience’.  After yet MORE food, we donned torches and headed out into the sanctuary with our very enthusiastic, passionate guide in search of the illusive kiwi!  I can only equate this to something like searching for a lion in Kruger National Park – some groups were lucky and saw one, others not so lucky!

Our final day saw us being looked after by our host hotel – in my case the ‘Copthorne Oriental Bay’. The conference facilities are perfect for the small to medium size conference. Catering can occur in the spacious restaurant area that only gets used for breakfast and dinners normally, and there is an outdoor balcony area for those wanting to get some air throughout the day. I found the hotel to be quite a surprise package – the accommodation rooms are very clean, comfortable and spacious. The staff friendly and happy to go well ‘over and above’ what was required of them, and there was plenty of parking for those who may only be conferencing for the day. From the Copthorne it was a short walk around to the Bay Plaza Hotel, then off to the other side of town to the Bolton Hotel, finally all ending up atCliftons which is a training style facility located on the 28th floor of the Majestic Tower. An ideal stand alone venue, centrally located and with fabulous views over Wellington, it provided a fitting way to end our fabulous three days enjoying lunch with newfound Kiwi and Aussie friends...

My perception of Wellington after the famil???  It truly IS the “coolest little capital in the world”.  The Wellington Convention Bureau did an absolutely fabulous job of ensuring we experienced as much as possible that was pertinent to our business, and I have to say, I would seriously encourage anyone to consider holding their next NZ conference in Wellington. 

Ask Corrie now for a personalised quote, and as a bonus, she can also advise where to go for a GREAT pair of shoes or two!! …Well, after all, it wasn’t quite all work!”