Nationwide publicity promoting the Far North as a visitor destination will evolve from the inaugural Russell to Paihia leg of the Sovereign NZ Ocean Swim Series in the Bay of Islands on Saturday 12th December.
Television coverage expected to air on Sky, TVNZ and TV3 prior to and on the day of the Russell to Paihia swim will not only promote the event but will also profile the region as a tourist destination, Far North District Council Economic Development officer Gary Gabbitas says.
"Marketing of the district is included in promotional material on the Sovereign NZ Ocean Swim website and in event on-line newsletters. In addition, destination marketing material is being supplied to all entrants in the Sovereign series across New Zealand.
"Destination Northland and Sport Northland have both come on board with strong support for both the event and marketing opportunities which will bring the north into strong focus as both an event and a visitor destination," he says.
"If we can show as a council we are right behind events such as this, it opens up opportunities to encourage other national sports and recreation events to also consider the Far North as a potential venue," Gary says.
As part of the council's sponsorship involvement, council fleet vehicles have been sign-written promoting the event and there has been an encouraging level of volunteer support to help with the event organisation both on the day and during the registration process on Friday 11th December, he says.
Three weeks out from the event and more than 400 entries have already been confirmed, including the participation of a number of high profile names including ACT Leader Rodney Hide, Olympic double gold medallist Danyon Loader, champion triathlete Sam Warriner and radio and television personalities James McOnie and Nathan Rarere.
"This is well on track to the 600 swimmers expected to participate by the time entries close. What we need to do now is encourage participants to bring their families and supporters to the Bay of Islands for the event and to stay on longer and see what we have to offer as a visitor destination."
The Russell to Paihia leg is the second event in the six-event Sovereign New Zealand Ocean Swim Series. The Series, held in Auckland, Bay of Islands, Wellington, Christchurch, Mt Maunganui and Auckland’s North Shore, is not only for elite swimmers, but encourages people of all shapes, sizes and abilities to take part
The Russell to Paihia event features the 3.2 kilometre cross-harbour swim, but also offers a 750-metre offshore ‘beginner distance’, a fun 300-metre tag team relay with seven divisions for corporate, family, male, female, mixed, intermediate and high school teams and the Sovereign OceanKids 200-metre swim in shallow water for children aged 10 years old and under which includes pre-race coaching clinics with tips from swim legends like Danyon Loader and Moss Burmester.
"This is an opportunity for everyone in the family to be involved," Gary says.
Entry forms and more details about the Sovereign New Zealand Ocean Swim Series, including the Russell to Paihia event, can be found at www.oceanswim.co.nz. Contact details are also available on the council website at www.fndc.govt.nz