Bear is a hit in Wanaka
Bear Grylls' Wanaka-filmed survival show Get Out Alive finished its eight episode United States debut with 30.6 million viewers copping loads of intense action set amongst the jaw-dropping vistas of Mt Aspiring National Park.
The NBC-produced show finished airing on August 26, becoming the number one unscripted series of the American summer on the major US television networks.
The August 19 episode moved into the time-slot lead, ranking number one among ABC, CBS, NBC and the FOX networks in adults aged 18 to 49, freshly published figures from the Nielsen Media Research company reveal.
Lake Wanaka Tourism general manager James Helmore said the huge exposure was invaluable in showcasing the Wanaka region to the US market putting it on the "must visit" destination list for many US travellers.
"The Mt Aspiring National Park is unique by global standards and provided a fantastic backdrop to the series, " he said.
"We expect to see the benefits of this exposure come through increasing US visitor numbers over the next 12 to 18 months."
While the show reaped huge numbers of weekly TV viewers, Laka Wanaka Tourism maximised the numbers of people exposed to Wanaka's lure through social media campaigns.
"We really leveraged the exposure of each episode through our social media channels by engaging directly with the contestants on Twitter. They all fell in love with the Lake Wanaka region and want to come back to visit, but to enjoy more of the activities, attractions and cuisine we are renowned for.
"We also used Facebook extensively. For each episode we put together an album of images that corresponded with the activities the contestants undertook, except our images showed how travellers could enjoy a similar experience yourself or in more comfort and convenience with one of our activity operators."
The last Facebook album reached 178,112 people. Each album showed a range of pictures plus a map showing the location where the episode was filmed.
While the numbers told their own story about the popularity of the show and its potential economic benefits, Bear Grylls had his own great stories of his time in Wanaka, Mr Helmore said.
"I know Bear enjoyed his stay in Wanaka and experienced a number of activities in his downtime - like skydiving with Skydive Wanaka."