The Government and Air New Zealand boss Rob Fyfe have confirmed a three-year commercial partnership between the Department of Conservation and the national carrier.
The $1m-a-year deal will see travel and marketing support of conservation programmes around the National Parks Great Walks network, species translocations around the country and promotion of the Great Walks themselves.
"The establishment of the Great Walks Biodiversity Partnership and the Air New Zealand Translocation Programme will see our two organisations come together to enhance and promote the sorts of things that make New Zealand unique," Fyfe said.
"It will enable important conservation biodiversity projects to take place in the vicinity of the Great Walks and also help promote these gems in New Zealand's natural tourism crown to domestic and international tourists like never before."
The announcement was made at Air New Zealand's Auckland headquarters this afternoon.
Air New Zealand's sponsorship of the Great Walks network incorporates nine tracks - Rakiura, Kepler, Milford, Routeburn, Heaphy, Abel Tasman Coast, Whanganui River Journey, Tongariro and Lake Waikaremoana.
The agreement will also see Air New Zealand transporting threatened species to safe new breeding sites around the country as part of DOC's active recovery programmes.
"There are approximately 200 transfers each year of threatened wildlife and just this past week Air New Zealand helped fly eight flightless kakapo from Invercargill through Christchurch to Auckland en route to their new sanctuary on Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf," DOC director-general Al Morrison said.
Fyfe said the partnership represented an important expansion of the airline's environment strategy.
Air New Zealand's marketing plans for the Great Walks include development of flight and hut packages and high-end group experiences on conservation land, promotion through its million-strong frequent flyer database and local and international marketing and social media activity.
Fyfe also revealed plans for a global competition labelled "The Great Walker" which will launch in two months, giving one person from anywhere in the world the opportunity to come to New Zealand and take on the challenge of completing all nine Great Walks in nine weeks.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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