Kia Ora

Visiting delegates would all agree that a business trip to New Zealand is well worth the 24+ hours it takes to get there, writes Cora Lydon

Don’t let the long flight be a barrier to experiencing one of the most magical places on earth – instead think of the travel as part of the experience. Treat the boss or delegates to first class if you can, so they arrive in comfort. In fact, the sweeping panoramas, stunning landscapes and alfresco lifestyle can positively make a business trip to New Zealand a once in a lifetime opportunity.

On the most part, the climate is pretty mild and you can expect the weather to be kinder that it is in the UK. The North Island has a sub-tropical climate with warm temperatures, while the South Island tends to be cooler. Most of the rainfall occurs in winter and spring – which is the summer and autumn in the UK due to seasonal differences.

There’s also the chance to thoroughly immerse delegates in the culture of the country. In New Zealand, Maori is firmly embedded in the way of life. Around 15 per cent of the total population is Maori and so their customs, heritage and language are practiced in parliament and business, as well as in day-to-day living.

Locals are renowned for the warm welcome they extend to visitors. The unique Kiwi way of making people feel welcome and comfortable – known as manaakitanga – means you can relax in the knowledge that delegates you’re hosting in the country will be well looked after and supported.

Despite concerns over natural disasters, international visitor numbers are still growing; up by 11 per cent in 2016. By the year 2022, the total number of visitors to the country is expected to reach 4.5 million. But, as New Zealand sits on the ‘Ring of Fire,’ earthquakes are not uncommon. Heavy quakes in 2010, 2011 and 2016 created billions of dollars worth of damage to key cities. Should a major earthquake hit while the boss is there, they should follow the instructions of local authorities quickly. The New Zealand Ministry of Defence & Emergency Management offers advice on emergencies in the country.

That being said, the Kiwis are quick to recover and create new opportunities in the midst of adversity – whether temporarily or not. Christchurch, which suffered heavily in 2011, and again last year, has already been transformed beyond recognition. Pop-up shops and buildings ensured the area didn’t suffer further, while formerly out-of-fashion districts thrived.

Getting around
The overall use of public transport in New Zealand is low, according to the Ministry for the Environment, with only around 2.5 per cent of trips using these services. The main form of public transport is bus, though Auckland and Wellington also have suburban rail systems and some cities offer ferry services, too.

In the South Island, the famous TranzAlpine and Coastal Pacific trains operate, while visiting the length of the North Island is the Overlander, offering train services between the cities. Taxis are plentiful and cheap, costing around NZ$2-3 per km when travelling inner-city.

The great outdoors
It’s no surprise that New Zealand is home to a great number of inventions; the majority of which are centered around recreation. Zorbing; the high speed amphibian car; the jet pack, the referee whistle; the jet boat; artificial reef for surfing; sheeb (cycling monorail) and bungy jumping all originated in the country. The gorgeous landscapes, exceptional climate and the fact that no-one is ever more than 75 miles from the ocean means opportunities for outdoor activities for teambuilding are abundant.

Luxury options are never too far from delegates’ reach either. Last September, Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) walked away from Sydney’s Luxperience trade show with the coveted ‘Destination Award,’ which is given to the place that best incorporates luxury travel as a key contributor to attracting visitors – and it’s the second year running TNZ has walked away with this honour.

The business of doing business
Despite the fact that there are number of large corporations operating in the country, New Zealand has a bigger proportion of small businesses than in many other developed countries. Due to this, you’ll find that organisational structure tends to be quite flat and team spirit is high. Meetings may include managers and employees, who collaborate closely day-to-day.

Despite its reputation for relaxed business, New Zealand can also be deceptively formal; similar to the formalities you’d experience in the UK. You may note that dress codes tend to be stricter than you’re used to, so if the boss has meetings lined up ensure they have something suitable to wear.

The boss should also be aware of the importance of time-keeping: punctuality is part of New Zealand’s culture and many social events commence on time. On this occasion, being fashionably late could create the wrong impression.

Business locals will appreciate the directness of facts and figures at meetings so it’s always best for the boss to be direct and open, especially when pitching for new business.

International business has always been important to the economy and New Zealand can certainly compete on a global scale. Currently under construction and set to be complete in 2019 is the New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC). At an impressive 35,500 square metres, the space will be capable of hosting around 3,000 delegates in a range of versatile conference, exhibition and entertainment spaces. Its location in Auckland places it within walking distance of more than 4,500 hotel rooms of 4 star or more, as well as having the vibrant waterfront and a number of attractions on its doorstep.

To tip or not to tip?
If the boss wants to tip then they should do so at the usual rate they’d leave in UK – though it’s by no means expected.

Watch your language
It’s also worth noting a few phrases that differ between the UK and New Zealand…

  • A flip flop is a ‘jandal’ and ‘togs’ are your swimming costume
  • If someone says they’re ‘off to the dairy,’ it doesn’t mean they’re going to milk cows – rather, they’re popping to the corner shop
  • If the boss requests tea, they shouldn’t be surprised if they get served up a dinner rather than a hot drink
  • Talking about Wellies – the saviour of the British winter – actually makes reference to the capital city of Wellington.