I cornered Blair Hartland (International Marketing Manager for Chistchurch Cantebury Tourism) at the recent KiwiLink trade event in Los Angeles. The place was packed and a buzz of the latest about New Zealand. Here our brief conversation. ITKT readers can expect more interviews covering almost everywhere in New Zealand.

What’s happening these days in Christchurch?
Right now if you hit Christchurch in the autumn it’s the changes of colors, and the scenery in Christchurch becomes quite stunning. It’s a great time of year where tourists can come and get quite a very experience in terms of scenery. This is also true in the springtime. It’s one of our main selling points.

We also have a new development at our Antarctic Center, which has a new “Penguin encounter.” It’s become a very popular tourist attraction for North American visitors.

Is that a permanent attraction?
Yes it is. And it can be combined price-wise with the Hagglund ride, or other attractions. That’s 26 little blue penguins, which are the penguins you find on that little jut of land that you find right outside of Christchurch City.

We also have a new hotel being built, 155 rooms in the city center. Our numbers across all markets have been pretty positive but certainly an increase from North America. Our market has been growing steadily without being dramatic and the steady growth is what we’re after anyway.

Is there anything new happening on Oxford terrace?
Ah yes, the Oxford terrace – the “strip” as we call it – being the strip of bars and cafes, which may the best nightlife in the city. The area is modeled on the Southern European concept of life along the river. It really is a nice environment for lunch, a not so late nightlife for the young ones, and not too late for the old ones.

Another area in Christchurch, which is developing really nicely, is the east side of the city around the High Street/Lower Manchester Street area. At one time the area might have been considered not the most attractive area in the city, but it has developed, sort of, a bohemian and art establishment appeal. A little bit more bars and a little bit more accommodations, and has really picked up this part of the city and added a new dimension to it.

Interview by Devin Galaudet