by Andrea Doyle | March 21, 2017
Oprah Winfrey recently declared her love for New Zealand. She was in the country along with Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling filming the new Disney movie, A Wrinkle in Time, and posted a photo to Instagram looking out over the rolling hills to the snow-capped mountains in the Lake Hawea area and writing, "Around every corner yet another breathtaking view."

She's hardly alone in appreciating this awe-inspiring country, which boasts glaciers, white- and black-sand beaches, fjords, alpine forests, and volcanic craters -- and plenty beyond its topography.

A Wrinkle in Time was shot in Wanaka, a resort town nestled on the shores of Lake Wanaka, in a region dotted with lakes, mountains, rivers, and offering endless activities, close to Queenstown on the South Island.

It is Queenstown where Dee Kelly, senior project director of cievents, a global strategic event management agency for the corporate market locally based in North Sydney, Australia, has brought incentive groups. Surrounded by snow-capped mountain ranges on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, the setting alone impresses, she says.  

"Its scenery is mind-blowingly stunning, there are lots of fantastic experiences and activities to offer, and the food is creative, the wine amazing," says Kelly. "Every group I have taken there has loved it and most have returned year after year."

Dramatic natural landscapes, lively cities, rural retreats, luxury lodges, and city hotels make New Zealand an extraordinary incentive travel destination. Add to that the fact that it is an extremely safe and compact country, and you have a winner.

"Our Kiwi culture is the reason convention and incentive organizers love working with us. It's a genuine and powerful competitive advantage on the world stage. New Zealand is safe, boasts incredible scenery, fabulous food, and wine," says Sue Sullivan, chief executive of Conventions & Incentives New Zealand.

Incentive experiences abound in this small, enchanting island nation. There is surfing or tobogganing down the huge sand dunes on 90 Mile Beach; sky jumping from New Zealand's tallest building, the SkyTower; zorbing (rolling down a grassy slope inside a clear plastic orb); jet boating, four-wheel driving adventures, crewing an ex-America's Cup racing yacht on Waitemata Harbour, or journeying past the backdrops featured in Peter Jackson's award-winning The Lord of the Rings films.

New Zealand's national bird, the kiwi, may be flightless, but this is a country that is soaring as an incentive destination.  

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This article appears in the March/April 2017 issue of Incentive.