An array of activities from watersports and horse-riding to rock climbing and biking was on offer in Raglan last week to a 24-strong group of i-SITE staff and Wintec students training in tourism.

Hosted jointly by Raglan Information Centre and Huntly i-SITE, the trade familiarisation – or famil as it’s called in the industry – showcased what to do and where to stay in town, and provided the overnight visitors with a taste of food and wine generously donated by local businesses.

“We put Raglan in front of them,” said local tourist operator Charlie Young, whose Whale Bay hostel Karioi Lodge hosted a dinner and karaoke evening on the Thursday night and who also treated the party to a short harbour cruise on the Wahinemoe during the day. “They were impressed at what was on offer here.”

While some of the group stayed at Karioi Lodge, others bedded down in cabooses and cottages at Solscape eco retreat overlooking Manu Bay.
Many of the visitors had never been to Raglan, coming as they did from east of the Waikato, the central North Island and as far south as Porirua.

On their way to Raglan they got to see Bridal Veil Falls – rated recently as one of the country’s top ten waterfalls by ‘Wilderness’ magazine – before trying their hand at surfing, stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking with Raglan Kayak.

The following day’s activities included horse treks offered by both Magic Mountain and Wild Coast, rounds of claybird shooting at Playground in Te Uku, climbing with Raglan Rock and biking up to the wind farm courtesy of Raglan Scenic Tours.

It was a great effort by i-SITE and information centre staff in getting the group of visitors involved, said Charlie, and by all the local providers who catered and came up with gifts and spot prizes for the two-day event. “Now knowing Raglan (first hand) these people will go away and recommend the place … talk it up.”

The 11 Wintec students in the party went away similarly impressed. Travel & tourism tutor Laura Millward told the Chronicle the famil was an invaluable learning experience which increased their passion for tourism and Raglan. A digital story on their “adventure” would now be made and posted on Wintec’s Facebook page, she added, to show how “industry-ready” they were.

The idea for the famil emerged out of an i-SITE conference in Hamilton last year when staff from the Huntly and Raglan centres decided it was time to promote Raglan better, local team manager Te Aronui Maihi told the Chronicle.

It was about creating good impressions of Raglan within the tourist industry so i-SITE staff and travel organisations could in turn “sell” the town both to domestic and overseas visitors, she said.

Edith Symes