by Andrea Doyle | October 01, 2014

To many, New Zealand, referred to often by its Maori name, Aotearoa, Land of the Long White Cloud, is a country shrouded in mystery. This breathtaking destination consists of two main islands, the North and the South, boasting glaciers, white and black-sand beaches, fjords, rain forests, alpine forests, lakes, and volcanic craters. New Zealand encourages visitors to not only admire these diverse landscapes but immerse themselves in truly unique ways.

Skydiving, hang gliding, jet boating, white water rafting, back country 4WD tours, hiking, biking, skiing, four wheel driving, bungy jumping, canyoning, and rappelling, not to mention wine tastings in caves, vineyards, and in the homes of winemakers comprise the offerings.

Glenorchy, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, 
is the gateway to Middle-Earth magic

 They may be small, but J.R.R. Tolkien's hobbits represent big business for the country. New Zealand Director Sir Peter Jackson, best known for his adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, filmed all three installments of the fantasy saga here. New Zealand's topography was once again brought to life for The Hobbit Trilogy. All this attention has lifted some of the mystery and has propelled New Zealand and its beauty to the forefront of many people's minds.  

This small island nation enchants and has all the components in place to motivate groups. Incentives, conferences, conventions, and exhibitions serve as a focus of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who also serves as Tourism Minister. The New Zealand government invested $34 million over four years to attract international business events.

"Our core focus is the conference and incentive market. We aim to position New Zealand as a unique and compelling destination," says Alexa Bennett, Business Events Executive, North America, Tourism New Zealand.

Here I receive a hongi, a traditional Maori greeting, 
from Ngahihi O Te Ra Bidois, a motivational speaker

 Compelling describes New Zealand. At its heart you find the Maori who came here by canoe a thousand years ago. Don't be surprised to receive the "hongi," a traditional Maori greeting considered the equivalent of a formal handshake. It consists of two people touching noses and foreheads and means, "to share breath." By doing so, a visitor becomes a member of the local people.

That's exactly what all New Zealanders do-they make you feel connected. Their passion and zest for life intoxicates.  "Kia ora! (be well)" you'll hear, and hear often, from the truly welcoming New Zealanders.

This is a country that takes its sport rugby, and the All Blacks, seriously. Keeping true to its Maori heritage, the team performs a Haka, an ancient war dance with lots of foot stamping, grunts, body slapping, and chanting, before each match.

Not only do its people make an impression but so does the country's clean, green way of life. It's what Tourism New Zealand, the country's tourism agency, calls, "100% Pure New Zealand."

Most people dread a trans Pacific flight. With Air New Zealand, passengers look forward to it. Operating more than 4,000 flights each week, Air New Zealand connects people to 26 destinations within New Zealand and 27 international ports in Asia, Europe, Australia, North America, and the Pacific Islands. For those fortunate enough to fly Business Premier, the seat reclines to a 79.5-inch lie flat bed with a memory foam mattress. An on-demand inflight entertainment system with a 12.1-inch touch screen and noise-cancelling premium headphones help pass the time. Chef designed menu choices and New Zealand wines delight travelers.