New '100% Pure' campaign shows tourist drinking river water

A still from the Tourism New Zealand video.
TOURISM NEW ZEALAND

A still from the Tourism New Zealand video.

While concerns grow about the health of New Zealand's waterways – including the potential for reputational damage – it has not changed the way the country presents itself to the world.

The latest "100% Pure" campaign, released last week, shows a tourist drinking water from a river, something that would be dangerous in parts of the country.

The Government-funded ad was released last week by Tourism New Zealand (TNZ), and will be broadcast around the world over the next two years.

The campaign is titled "where one journey leads to another", and anchors on a dream-like video following two tourists tramping, diving and kayaking in various locations throughout New Zealand.

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At one point, one of the tourists stands in a river, cups her hands, and goes to drink the water.

It quickly cuts to the next shot moments before it reaches her mouth.

The video has been watched more than 350,000 times on Youtube. It would run "in all of Tourism New Zealand's target markets," TNZ said.

It comes in a year where both national and international agencies have highlighted water quality issues in New Zealand.

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The OECD in particular raised the prospect of reputational damage unless environmental issues were addressed.

More recently, several public health researchers warned of growing health consequences from contact with polluted waterways.

The ad's river scene was shot at the Blue Pools in Haast, a popular tourist destination on the Makarora River known for its clear water, which appears blue due to glacial silt.

Because it is close to the alpine-sourced river's headwaters, the water is pure, and unlikely to cause health issues – but it is in the overwhelming minority of rivers that would be considered safe to drink from.

About half of river sites monitored for E coli nationwide had median levels unsafe for livestock to drink, let alone humans, according to data from the Ministry for the Environment.

In a statement, TNZ did not address the reasons for including the shot, but said the ad "communicates the variety of experiences that can be had in New Zealand and consumer research tells us that it delivers this".

It noted that 100% Pure "is not an environmental promise".

Tourism Minister Paula Bennett said she thought the ad fairly represented what could be done in New Zealand and she stood behind the 100% Pure brand.

 - Stuff

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