Wellingtonians are coolest people I've ever seen, says Hollywood star
Hollywood star Bryce Dallas Howard made herself at home in Wellington, and is now telling the world about her "favourite city" in a new tourism campaign.
The Pete's Dragon and Jurassic World star teamed up with National Geographic Travel to direct a six-part video series about her adventures last April in Wellington, the Bay of Islands, Waipoua Forest, and Queenstown.
Howard, who spent time in Wellington while filming for Disney's Pete's Dragon in 2015, was involved in mapping her story, including selecting the locations and experiences for the campaign.
Howard said she "loved" everything about Wellington: the people, the vibe, the style and the culture.
"It's known for its independent spirit and you feel it everywhere, from its eclectic restaurants, indie shops and booming arts scene, to its famous cafes; it's truly a city to fall in love with."
Her Where the Locals Go in Wellington video features locations such as Cuba St and Harbourside Market, and personalities including the Roxy Cinema barman Ray Letoa, and ends with her saying: "That is why Wellington is my favourite city".
Howard, who is the daughter of actor and director Ron Howard, is taking part in a $2 million Tourism New Zealand campaign in the United States and Canada. Details of the fees paid to individuals are confidential.
Her lifelong relationship with New Zealand began as a child, when she joined her father on a film set in Queenstown.
"When I spend time in New Zealand, I always admire the importance Kiwis place on embracing nature and being outside. Just as much as the setting, it's this gratitude for the planet and the lifestyle formed from it that makes me love this country so much."
Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency destination development general manager David Perks said she felt a strong connection to the capital and was insistent on including Wellington on her itinerary.
The campaign positions Wellington as a quintessential part of the New Zealand tourism experience, which was not just about lovely landscapes but also about cosmopolitan cities crammed with interesting people doing colourful things, Perks said.
He described Howard's endorsement of Wellington as invaluable.
"It's hard to put a dollar value on it, but this is invaluable exposure for Wellington in a key market. It will not only be seen by millions of people, but being fronted by a Hollywood star means it will definitely help influence many of those people who see it, to book a trip to New Zealand, and include Wellington as part of their holiday."
The US is New Zealand's third largest international visitor market and about 27 per cent of 210,000 Americans who visited New Zealand, in the year to May 2017, came to Wellington.
Wellington being included as a tourism drawcard would also help improve tourism in surrounding areas such as Wairarapa, Marlborough and Nelson, Perks said.
BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD'S WELLINGTON PICKS:
Loretta restaurant, Cuba St
Cable Car lookout
Hunters & Collectors vintage clothing store, Cuba St
Caughley luxury essentials and streetwear, Ghuznee St
Street art on Ghuznee St
Wellington Chocolate Factory
Olive cafe, Cuba St
The Hangar cafe, Dixon St
Harbourside Market, Wellington waterfront