Trans-tasman relations are riding high with the arrival of 255 Australian travel agents into Auckland for a tourism familiarisation trip.
The agents are in the country as part of Tourism New Zealand's Mega Famil being run in partnership with Emirates and tourism operators across the country.
It is one of the largest familiarisation and training events Tourism New Zealand has ever run.
Having arrived on May 15, on one of three Emirates' trans-tasman flights, the Australian front-line travel sellers will be trained on tourism product before experiencing destination New Zealand first-hand on one of 12 itineraries around the country.
Tim Burgess, Tourism New Zealand's General Manager Australia says the travel trade is an extremely valuable tool for engaging with potential holiday visitors, and converting their interest in New Zealand, into an actual booking.
"We want to provide agents with everything they need to confidently sell New Zealand. What better way than by inviting industry to come and experience the destination for themselves?
"By partnering with Emirates we're certain these 300 agents will be provided the trip of a lifetime, and be even more inspired to promote our beautiful destination," says Mr Burgess.
Australians holidaying in New Zealand represent a significant market for Emirates, says Barry Brown, Emirates' Vice President Australasia.
"We are excited to promote the attractive range of highlights by offering 300 Aussie agents the chance to experience the beauty of both the North and South islands first-hand, as well as the convenience of Emirates' 28 flights across the Tasman each week.
"From our daily flights to Auckland from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, to the convenience of our daily Sydney-Christchurch service, Emirates offers more choice and flexibility for travel between our two countries than ever before.
"We offer all wide-body flights with two A380 and two Boeing 777 services, all offering three class cabins, complimentary inflight meals and entertainment.
"Our Tasman bookings and the agents who support these routes are very important to us and we'd like to show our strong support to New Zealand by welcoming our top-sellers on this mega famil; the biggest ever undertaken between our two countries", said Mr Brown.
Itineraries and training will focus on the product that Tourism New Zealand marketed through its North Island self-drive and Food and Wine campaigns in late 2012, as well as the South Island Road Trip campaign currently live in the Australian market.
Mr Burgess says: "We want to generate and convert consumer interest by fully integrating trade into our marketing campaigns.
"Our South Island Road Trip campaign promotes 'self-drive' holidays, something that we know our Australian target audience respond well to. A number of itineraries will therefore showcase iconic driving routes and demonstrate how accessible the range of experiences and attractions are on a road trip of the South Island."
Tourism New Zealand will also use the familiarisation to New Zealand as a way to launch its refreshed 100% Pure New Zealand specialist online training programme.