Ōtautahi Christchurch: A City in Pursuit of Balance!

3rd Jan, 2024

The New Zealand city is building a new identity through economic growth based on its international reputation in different professional sectors, a comprehensive new visitor offering and a close connection to its diverse community. No wonder that Christchurch has returned to the business events stage with a bang.

The South Island’s untouched landscapes, combined with the unique Maori culture and exclusive visitor experiences define a city that is once again capturing the imagination of visitors. Its hospitality, security, political stability and ease of access in today’s climate help explain the rest.

Meet Ōtautahi Christchurch

Surrounded by some of the world’s most spectacular natural landscapes, the city boasts a highly collaborative business events community within its academic, corporate and association dimensions. The city is a social events dream – from restored heritage gems to rooftop bars, hailed sports grounds to vintage plane hangars and classic theatres. To top it off, over 2,500 hotel rooms and all city highlights are within a five-minute walk through the tree-lined riverside avenues and laneways. A short drive from the city, you will be immersed in incredible scenery and adventure from lush vineyards and wild coastlines to the snow-laden Southern Alps, Australasia’s highest peak Aoraki Mt Cook and pristine glacial lakes.

As New Zealand’s newest city, they are purpose-built for positive outcomes. “There’s a real heart and soul to our city that comes from a collaborative approach, putting people and planet first. We have experiences of our heritage, our regeneration, our stunning South Island environment, and our exciting future to share,” tells us Megan Crum, head of Business Events, ChristchurchNZ. Major milestones in recent years have given Christchurch even greater international recognition. Opened in 2022, Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre has brought the global MICE community to the heart of the city, quickly becoming New Zealand’s most sought-after conference and exhibition space hosting 234 events and more than 129,700 delegates in its first year of operation.

“The centre was designed with space flexibility in mind, with state-of-the-art technology and the highest standards of sustainability and zero-carbon initiatives.” Te Pae Christchurch features 24 meeting rooms, including a 1,000-seat riverside banquet hall, up to 3,300 square meters of exhibition space and a 1,400- seat auditorium that can be configured into two self- contained spaces. Upon arrival, Christchurch Airport – just 10km from the centre – is New Zealand’s second largest international gateway, facilitating flights from across the country, Australia, North America, Asia amongst others, with over 100 direct flights weekly between Christchurch and Australia and a welcoming lounge with interchangeable branding to suit your event.

For many associations today, the two main challenges seem to be financial resources and membership levels. Consequently, many are seeking financial support from the destination to bring their conferences to the city and are interested in providing as much value as possible to their members. “Others are also placing more emphasis on sustainability and creating a lasting impact or legacy, and we are looking to partner and collaborate on initiatives to help achieve the associations’ objectives,” adds Crum. In that sense, the convention bureau’s priority is to attract businesses with economic, social and environmental impacts to the region, and events that are aligned with their city’s sector priorities − health tech, future food, agritech, aerospace and future transport. “We have a robust framework for legacy investment targeted at these sectors, and we can already accurately measure the economic benefits to our region. However, we are also working with Tourism New Zealand and Business Events Industry Aotearoa to measure the non-economic benefits of business events.”

Tūwhana is the city’s new Business Event Advocacy Programme bringing together local experts, industry leaders and academics to connect with the world in Christchurch. The city is also home to three world-class universities, an institute of technology and a developed public sector, enhancing a knowledge and experience hub well-suited for events and a progressive business sector. “We take a targeted approach to seeking out opportunities that align with our advocates’ passions, our industry strength areas and our long-term ambition. For example, working closely with cultural consultants to invite clients to include Māori cultural elements in their conference programmes. There is a huge appetite to experience our cultural diversity and this is one element that sets us apart from some other destinations,” says Crum. On the digital front, the city’s core conference infrastructure has been fully revamped and enhanced in digital capacity, and its suite of local AV and technology providers will also support all technical aspects of event production. “We are fortunate to have a new purpose- built convention centre in Christchurch, which offers guests state-of-the-art facilities, including digital and hybrid technologies. In combination with existing and renovated buildings such as the the Christchurch Town Hall, we also have a wide range of venues suitable for all types of events.”

ChristchurchNZ Business Events is helping to highlight the city’s achievements towards sustainability by welcoming visitors through manaakitanga (warm welcome) and commitment to protecting their natural environment (kaitiakitanga). “We are the connector for a wide range of passionate and purposeful providers of business events. We help clients achieve their goals, especially by sharing a role in Christchurch’s aspiration to reduce climate change.” In this line, Christchurch Airport was the first airport in the world to receive the Level 4 Airport Carbon Accreditation. Meanwhile, Te Pae Christchurch has taken the next step in its sustainability journey, entering into an agreement with Toitū Envirocare to reduce its environmental footprint to zero carbon. Therefore, the city’s business events community is very focused on prioritising sustainability and general well-being with significant results. At a recent event, contributions were made to the “Tui Corridor”, a planting that aims to help bring native birds back to the region. “Legacy impact options are as diverse as wildlife conservation, wetland restoration and building equipment for schools, all making a difference to the community and the environment. We can help event organisers create a sense of balance for their delegates, learning from experts and giving back to the community they are gathering in,” concludes Crum.

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