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Love the journey

17 october 2018, media release, real journeys group of companies now represented by ‘wayfare’.

One of New Zealand’s leading family-owned tourism companies, Real Journeys, has announced the establishment of a new corporate identity called ‘Wayfare’ to represent its tourism companies in the international market.

Wayfare was chosen as the new name for its historical association and link back to Real Journeys (wayfare: to travel or the act of journeying), it also identifies with New Zealand as a nation of wayfarers and travellers, and ensures the group is open to future opportunities.

Wayfare will make it easier for trade customers to do business with the group’s five brands; Real Journeys, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Go Orange, International Antarctic Centre and Canyon Food & Brew Co.

Wayfare Chief Executive Richard Lauder, who was appointed chair of Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) last month, says the new company is the natural next step in the continued growth and success of the group. “Real Journeys as both ‘parent company’ and our largest ‘operating company’ sometimes created confusion. We wanted better clarity for our business customers, suppliers and our staff,” says Lauder.

There will be no change for the retail customers of the five brands.

Real Journeys as both 'parent company' and our largest 'operating company' sometimes created confusion. We wanted better clarity for our business customers, supplies, and our staff.

Wayfare Chief Executive

Richard Lauder

Each of our companies has their own distinctive, uniquely kiwi brands and we’re proud of them. They will retain their autonomy to focus on their operations and domestic market sales.

The Wayfare team will only handle international sales. We are in the process of trialling new technology to improve all our booking processes to eventually make Wayfare an easy ‘one-stop shop’ for trade,” says Richard.

Across the seasons, the Wayfare group of companies employs 1000 - 1500 staff. Less than one hundred (mostly head office and shared services staff) have transferred from Real Journeys to Wayfare. They provide all the brands with specialised and centralised business services, including IT, international sales, marketing, corporate communications and finance. There have been no redundancies as a result of the restructure.

Real Journeys Director of Operations Paul Norris will lead Real Journeys as its General Manager. Paul is highly respected in the industry and has worked in leadership positions for Real Journeys for the last 25 years.

For more information please contact [email protected] or phone +64 3 442 4830.

About Real Journeys

www.realjourneys.co.nz Real Journeys is a privately-owned tourism business that was founded in 1954 by tourism and conservation pioneers Sir Les and Olive Hutchins. Today the company remains true to its founders and their guiding principles of conservation and hospitality.

Based in some of the most untouched areas of New Zealand, Real Journeys has operations from Stewart Island to Queenstown – including the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, world renowned cruises through Milford and Doubtful Sounds, the heritage steamship TSS Earnslaw and Walter Peak High Country Farm and multi-day Discovery Expeditions.

About Cardrona Alpine Resort

www.cardrona.com Founded in 1980, Cardrona Alpine Resort is New Zealand’s most popular ski area, where everyone’s a VIP – from beginners and families, to Olympic and X Games athletes. Cardrona’s three vast basins are home to New Zealand’s first cabin-style lift – the McDougall’s Express Chondola, and the southern hemisphere’s most extensive terrain parks & pipes. Wide, open trails offer some of the country’s best snow conditions, thanks to high altitude and an innovative snow management system. Take an easy drive from Queenstown or Wanaka and be welcomed with genuine Kiwi hospitality. In the summer months Cardrona is open for mountain biking, carting, conferences and other alpine adventure activities. Cardrona recently purchased the rights to the Soho Ski Area and intends to expand into the Soho Basin. With over 900ha of skiable terrain, Cardrona-Soho will be the largest single ski area in the country.

About Go Orange

www.goorange.co.nz Go Orange challenges visitors to ‘Go Beyond’ the average tourist and make a deeper connection to New Zealand. With its suite of must-do adventure experiences, strong company culture, and led by Luke Taylor, (who received this year’s Tourism New Zealand Emerging Leader Award), Go Orange is fast becoming a leading adventure tourism brand in New Zealand. The company originated as a subsidiary of Real Journeys offering a daily cruise in Fiordland in 2012. By 2017, Go Orange merged with iconic Queenstown brands Queenstown Rafting, and Kiwi Discovery, to offer rafting, kayaking, cruising, coach connections, and ski packages. The following year, Go Orange purchased well known Queenstown businesses Thunder Jet and Queenstown Water Taxis.

About International Antarctic Centre

www.iceberg.co.nz Built in 1992, the International Antarctic Centre is a tourist attraction based in Christchurch, New Zealand, offering an interactive, immersive and fun Antarctic experience. Visitors can go through an Antarctic storm simulation with real snow and ice, an indoor/outdoor penguin viewing facility and a 4D cinema as well as travel on an all-terrain amphibious Hãgglund from Antarctica. For animal lovers, rescued wildlife adds to the centre’s appeal. Huskies visit the centre daily and the little blue penguins in residence at the International Antarctic Centre are rescue birds that would not otherwise survive in the wild.

About Canyon Food & Brew Co.

www.canyonfoodandbrew.co.nz Canyon Food & Brew Co. opened in June 2018 and has already won four national awards (Brewer’s Guild NZ) for its beer brewed on site by Head Brewer Jonathan Kauri. With spectacular views over the iconic Shotover River, the restaurant has a large outdoor deck overlooking the canyon, a warm fire inside and an open kitchen and brewery. Fresh flavoursome seasonal produce is served up with hand crafted beer in a relaxed, friendly vibe that’s become popular with locals and visitors alike.


Real Journeys

Real Journeys

Providing authentic, remarkable tourism experiences in some of the country’s most difficult to access areas, Real Journeys has been enjoying strong growth over the past few years. 

This has inspired the family-owned business to increase its conservation work and focus efforts on ensuring the community benefits from the upturn in tourism. 

Two years ago it launched the annual Cruise-for-a-Cause, where the proceeds of the first overnight cruise of the season in Doubtful and Milford Sounds are donated to local charitable and not-for-profit organisations. 

So far more than $100,000 has been raised for six community groups, including the Southland & Otago Cancer Society, Forest & Bird, Wakatipu High School Foundation and Queenstown Lakes Family Centre. 

Real Journeys also runs the wonderful ‘Birds of a Feather Conservation Ball’. It foots the bill for this annual event, with the money raised going towards conservation work. This year’s sold-out ball generated more than $100,000, with most of the proceeds going to the Wakatipu Wildlife Trust and Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust.

Real Journeys is also committed to being one of the region’s most progressive employers. Staff numbers have more than doubled since 2013 and a lot of effort goes into continually improving staff engagement through initiatives such as increased and customised training, creating more permanent staff employment opportunities, setting up a Diversity and Inclusion Council, and the construction of new staff accommodation. 

This year Real Journeys was delighted to take out the top prize at the Diversity Awards NZ, recognition of a company that strives to ‘be remarkable and do it better’.

  • Ensure your community shares in your success
  • Engage with your community in a way that suits your business
  • Set goals to improve staff engagement and put plans in place to achieve these
  • Make sure you respond to staff feedback
  • Make a commitment to increasing staff diversity
  • Provide progressive career opportunities

  Read more about the great conservation work Real Journeys is doing.

“Our conservation work and community engagement means we do good as part of doing business.”  

Richard Lauder, Chief Executive, Real Journeys

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Coronet Peak Queenstown Credit Neil Kerr

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Real Journeys

Photo of Real Journeys - Queenstown, OTA, NZ.

Review Highlights

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“ In typical kiwi fashion, I got a no worries, we will get you on the Milford Sound tour today. ” in 8 reviews

real-journeys-queenstown photo _2D3oecbJkXcUhwLmke5iA

“ The cruise was by no means luxurious, but it was comfortable and the experience we had was breathtaking. ” in 6 reviews

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“ In the morning, breakfast was served between 6:45 and 7:30 and then the boat headed out of the sound into the Tasman Sea . ” in 3 reviews

Location & Hours

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Queenstown, Otago

New Zealand

About the Business

- TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship Cruises (1 hr 30 mins) - Walter Peak Farm Tours (3 hrs 30 mins) - Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ Lunch (3 hrs 30 mins) - Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ Dinner (3 hrs 30 mins) - Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound day and overnight cruises - We also operate coach connections from Te Anau and Queenstown to connect with our cruises in Milford and Doubtful Sounds. …

Recommended Reviews

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Overall rating

Photo of Reba J.

Our tour group joined Real Journey for a Milford Sound trip. We were picked up at 7 am for the day. Our bus driver, Nathan, was fabulous. His knowledge was outstanding and he presented it so well. Our bus driver stopped several times along the way for great photographs. We were on the Milford Heaven for the tour. We had a box lunch waiting for our group. It was raining which allowed the waterfalls to be magnificent. Thoroughly enjoyed our day. Arrived back to Queenstown at 730.

real journeys staff

We went with Real Journeys (booked via Viator) to Milford Sound. They were very professional; they had everything down to a tee. The bus, which had huge windows, left Queenstown on time, and they arranged for a car to drive us from our hotel. The bus drove to Te Anau, where we stopped to give people a chance to buy food and use the bathroom. It then continued towards Milford Sound. It made a few other short stops on the way there. I very much appreciated this, because it's a drive through a national park and is quite scenic. We made it to the dock at Milford Sound just in time to board our boat. The cruise went great; it took us as far as the open sea before coming back. Then we got back on the bus and drove back, again stopping at Te Anau. It was a great way of seeing Milford Sound and it saved me the from having to drive the 7-8 hours round trip myself. I really appreciated the stops along way, as I felt I was getting to see more than other people might. With that said, I think the schedule was cut a bit too close. I didn't even have time to take a picture from the boat dock at either end of the cruise. The give you the option to fly back after the cruise, but there was a problem with someone's flight, which caused everyone on the entire bus to wait about half an hour until that was cleared up. Also, given how long you are on the bus, I would have liked them to have a bathroom on the bus. All in all, they still did a good job and I would go with them again.

Photo of Clarence J.

We went on the Milford Sound Nature Cruise day tour with Real Journeys, and the company did an excellent job. The trip is full of beautiful scenery in general (as usual in New Zealand...yawn... ;-) ), from the water as expected but especially during the drive through the "Southern Alps." The tour bus was comfortable and clearly designed for sightseeing, with oversize side windows, windows on the roof of the bus (in place of the overhead area for bags), and slightly angled seats to improve visibility for those not sitting beside a window. The boat tour is comfortable (although we apparently had a surprisingly calm day on the water), with several areas for sitting or standing inside and outside. It was a long day, but a thoroughly enjoyable one. The Real Journeys staff we engaged with throughout the day -- in the Real Journeys office, on the bus, and on the boat -- were friendly, efficient, and informative.

Photo of Ann L.

We did a fly-cruise-fly tour of Milford Sound through Real Journeys, and this was one of the highlights of our 3 week trip to Australia and New Zealand! A word of warning...our trip was initially booked in the morning, and when we called to confirm an hour before, the flight was cancelled due to weather. We re-booked on an afternoon flight but were warned that the weather looked doubtful for that time as well. Fortunately, the weather cleared, and we were able to go! Our pilot said that about 35% of flights are cancelled due to weather. So, my advice would be to schedule this as early as possible during your stay in Queenstown so that you can try to re-book if you are not in the lucky 65% that are able to fly! We were soooooo glad we were able to go! This trip ended up being one of the highlights of our 3-week vacation. The views from the plane were breathtaking. All seats are window seats on the 12 passenger plane, so it's not possible to have a seat with a bad view! Our pilot was wonderful! We had a nice smooth flight and he provided great commentary on what we were seeing as we flew over various mountain ranges and rivers. For fellow Lord of the Rings fans; the flight path goes over the range used for the Misty Mountains! The final turn over the Tasman Sea was just gorgeous!! The cruise on the sound was beautiful as well! Waterfalls and rainbows everywhere!! They even bring the boat right over to the base of a few waterfalls in case anyone wants a truly up close and personal (meaning WET!) experience of the waterfalls. Apparently the weather was not only good on the afternoon we cruised, but it was one of the best days they ever have in terms of weather. The box lunch on the boat was even good!! The flight back was equally beautiful and because the day was so clear and the views amazing, our pilot did a few extra passes over some areas so guests on both sides of the plane could get the best views. No, this isn't a cheap trip, but for those from overseas, when are you going to be in New Zealand again?! This is a don't miss experience!!

real journeys staff

See all photos from Ann L. for Real Journeys

Photo of James S.

New Years Eve Overnight Cruise! You can drive there in a car but I have heard that it is a lot easier to go on a tour bus which is what we did. We slept overnight on the Milford Mariner boat in Milford Sound. We were going to fly back in a helicopter to Queenstown but the weather got too rainy/windy. Heard that the helicopter has some sick views. We did the Milford Mariner cruise ship because the cabins had their own private bathrooms. The Milford Wanderer has shared bathrooms/bunks I think. The previous year for New Years eve we did the an overnight cruise on Halong Bay. We liked this Milford Sound cruise even more than Halong Bay because there were only 2 boats in the whole sound even on New Years eve! For Halong Bay there were at least 50+ ships. Milford felt a lot more serene and relaxing. Even the drive in on the bus was wonderful because they stopped at some cool hiking points. We opted for the kayak option during the overnight cruise which I would highly recommend since you do hiking on the way to Milford Sound. Can't recommend this enough!

Photo of Jae V.

In Queenstown, we took a Real Journeys overnight cruise on the Milford Mariner to Milford Sound which included a bus ride with hotel pickup. The drive to Milford is absolutely amazing and special - with so many scenic views and things to see. Along the way, we saw Mirror Lakes and the Chasm.Our driver was great with lots of informative commentary along the way. We think the drive to Milford is more scenic than the destination. We also don't recommend the overnight cruise. I don't think we saw anything different or special by spending the night on the boat. The boat departed at 4:30 and after a 30 min ride, anchored in Harrison Cove. We stayed there for the night, although there wasn't much to see there. You could kayak or ride in a tender craft. After the small excursion, dinner was served and it was delicious. It began with a choice of soup served at the table and then each table served themselves at the buffet. A choice of desserts were served buffet style also. After dinner there wasn't much to do so I just went to bed. In the morning, breakfast was served between 6:45 and 7:30 and then the boat headed out of the sound into the Tasman Sea. Turning around and coming back into the sound treated us to some beautiful views that are worth seeing, but I don't think we needed to spend the night to see them. There are 2 hour cruises that tour the sound and allow you to return to Queenstown the same day.

Photo of Erin M.

Incredibly impressed by our whole experience with Real Journeys that began this morning at 9:45 when I called to see of we were in the wrong location for our 9:40 pick up. No, we were not; I had booked us for July 25th rather than June 25th. Doh! In typical kiwi fashion, I got a no worries, we will get you on the Milford Sound tour today. We will hold the bus for you. Wow. The bus ride to Milford from Te Anau is a little under 3 hours and every moment is more stunning than the next. It's difficult to do the sites justice, but imagine mossy trees, waterfalls too numerous to count, jagged granite peaks and driving through clouds. Guides stop at 2 points along the way to show off Mirror Lake and The Chasm in Fiorjdlands National Park. The cruise itself is a little under 2 hours and has stunning views of Milford Sound. The Sovereign was the boat we were on and it was great with both indoor and less abundant outdoor viewing options. You'll be driven close to a waterfall the size of the Empire State Building and see seals sunning if you're lucky. You'll also (for an additional charge) enjoy lunch. We had the buffet and it was well stocked with mostly Asian inspired cuisine. Very good. Tea and coffee are also complimentary. One tip I'd share is to take Dramamine if you get seasick or think you might. The waves get choppy when the sound meets the Tasman Sea. Though this will occupy the better part of your day (9:30-4:30 from Te Anau and add 2 and a half hours from Queenstown), it's well worth it!

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Real Journeys Soverign

Real Journeys Soverign

Photo of Karen M.

We had an amazing day today with Dean. He is very informative and funny. He got us to our destinations safely on time. I would highly recommend.

Photo of Heather S.

The BEST tour I've ever done. This is the only company that is allowed to have tours through Milford and Doubtful Sound. Because it was winter time, we decided to just do a day trip to Doubtful Sound. Our entire journey beginning from where they picked us up all the way to the sound was nothing short of amazing. Other than the breath-taking views, the staff was so pleasant. You can tell they put so much effort in making sure everyone gets nothing but the best experience out of this tour.

real journeys staff

See all photos from Heather S. for Real Journeys

Photo of Jim D.

After some research on line we decide to do a day trip to Milford Sound. We booked Real Journeys on line with the option of Coach from Queenstown to Milford Sound, Cruise on Milford Sound and Fly back from Milford Sound to Queenstown. This was the more expensive option, but the thought of flying back through the incredible scenery was too much to resist. Setting off early from Queenstown, our first bus must have travelled all of a mile before dropping us off to where the main bus picked us up. This is in no way a problem and works out of necessity given the steep and narrow side streets in Queenstown for the large bus that picked us up. Our driver and guide was Keith who gave us a wonderfully informative commentary with just the right amount of dry wit to make it entertaining. The coach drive itself was nearly 400km to Milford sound, but with the stops and the commentary, it did not feel too long at all. Once in Milford Sound, we embarked on the Monarch for a two hour cruise of Milford sound. At this point I should make a comment about the weather. Against all the odds, it was a beautiful day, with the rain and low cloud of the previous day gone and replaced by bright sunshine. The Monarch departed from the pier at Milford Sound and set course along the sound itself. Lunch was pre booked by us, and our Indian vegetarian dish was served up piping hot with some great dishes. We really did not expect the food to be this good, but it was. Views were breathtaking from the upper deck, although given the strong breezes many stayed below the exposed deck. Waterfalls ran down near vertical sloped dropping into just spray before it hit the water itself. Enchanting was not too strong a word. After about two hours, we returned, picked up our boarding passes for the 8 seater aircraft to take us back to Queenstown. Our pre-flight briefing was indeed brief, but effective. It included the advice to " Use the sick bag if needed" and "wear the ear defenders for the noise, and noise is good" Good as the rest of the day had been, the forty minute flight was spectacular down the sound itself before turning and climbing back over some mountains and through the passes between others. Trust me when I say this is not to be missed, not just because you save three to four hours travelling time instead of returning by bus, but the views and experience really was once in a lifetime. Way to soon we dropped in and landed at Queenstown and climbed out of the little aircraft. Without exception we all wore grins from ear to ear. Cannot say enough good things about the organisation and execution from Real Journeys- It really was a first class experience.

real journeys staff

See all photos from Jim D. for Real Journeys

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Tourism aligned with conservation

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Kayakers from Real Journeys' 40m vessel Fiordland Navigator head off to explore Doubtful Sound. Photo: Supplied

Senior business reporter Simon Hartley charts the rise and rise of parent company Real Journeys with its general manager Paul Norris and Richard Lauder, chief executive of Wayfare, aligned with subsidiary operations Cardrona Alpine Resort, Go Orange, the International Antarctic Centre and Canyon Food & Brew Co.

Eight acquisitions during the past five years have helped form Real Journeys into one of the South Island's five largest tourism operations.

Employing 1500 people at the peak of its season, Real Journeys and its subsidiaries will this year have 1.5million visitor activity bookings, while maintaining a fleet of 18 boats and large vessels, an asset base worth several hundred million dollars.

Behind the corporate success of the Hutchins family private company is a core of conservation values, largely unknown to the wider public.

The legacy of a conservation focus by company founders Les and Olive Hutchins can also be measured in millions of dollars invested in projects and ongoing fundraising, all leading to the protection of an increasingly large number of native species and their habitats.

Les Hutchins was adamant from the beginning that tourism and conservation should be undertaken hand-in-hand, not despite one another.

Arguably, the company is one of Otago's best kept secrets.

Real Journeys' Stewart Island Conservation Discovery Expedition on the island, where visitors assist Department of Conservation staff. Photo: Supplied

In 1954, Les and Olive Hutchins bought the fledgling Manapouri-Doubtful Sound Tourist Company.

Real Journeys' first excursions were into the wilds of Doubtful Sound, its clients tramping 22km from Lake Manapouri over the 671m Wilmot Pass, down a steep one-in-five gradient to boat the wilderness Doubtful Sound.

Sixty-four years on, the company encompasses myriad South Island tourism activities, including the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch, but is mainly considered a maritime-tourism operator.

There is jet-boating around Lake Wakatipu or more sedate crossings in TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station.

There are boats across Lake Manapouri, excursions to Lake Te Anau's glow worm caves, overnight or week-long trips visiting Doubtful and Milford Sounds, snow sports at Cardrona, and conservation-focused boat trips to Stewart Island.

A new entity, Wayfare, was launched in October to represent its tourism companies - Real Journeys, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Go Orange, the International Antarctic Centre and Canyon Food & Brew Co - in the international market.

Real Journeys' general manager Paul Norris (left) and corporate entity Wayfare chief executive Richard Lauder, aboard TSS Earnslaw in Queenstown. Photo: Simon Hartley

Along the way he gained an MBA from the University of Otago, and a degree in philosophy, and worked at the Mataura Paper Mill for five years.

This year, he was appointed chairman of the national body Tourism Industry Aotearoa.

Real Journeys' Te Anau-based general manager, Paul Norris (54), recently celebrated 25 years with the company.

He initially worked at Cardrona in 1995 before moving to Fiordland Travel/Real Journeys' Milford Sound operations, as assistant manager in 1993.

While both men are candid about the tribulations and triumphs of Real Journeys, from the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-08 to the recent tripling of revenue, they talk animatedly about the company's conservation projects.

Environmental focus

Mr Lauder said about $500,000 was spent on the removal of 90ha of wilding Douglas fir around Walter Peak Station, which was acting as a ''seed stock'' for nearby areas, plus another half million on the Cooper Island restoration project, removing predators from the island, the third largest in Dusky Sound.

Once the rats and stoats are eliminated, he hopes two kiwi species and kakapo and other endangered native birds can be reintroduced.

Mr Norris said in the future about $65,000-$75,000 would be spent annually to maintain Cooper Island, coming from fare-paying passengers on on week-long discovery expeditions which visit the island.

Mr Lauder said another major conservation project was being considered, examining the ''decarbonising of tourism'', but as a decision was yet to be made, he declined to reveal further details.

Another recent development is the Conservation Discovery Expedition, a boat trip to Rakiura/Stewart Island, where passengers assist Department of Conservation staff in field work, track and trap clearing around Port Pegasus and The Neck.

From that trip, $500 of each passenger's ticket goes towards Fiordland predator control.

Real Journeys' fundraising and co-fundraising with the Department of Conservation has amounted to several hundred thousand dollars during the past few years.

Other major achievements for Mr Norris are career development for staff and Real Journeys' community involvement.

At a recent school prizegiving, he recognised with pride the children of staff called to the podium.

''I like to focus on the conservation work, but also to see staff elevated to new roles and forming a long career in tourism ... then going on to building contributions to the community,'' he said.

Later, at the wharf and aboard Earnslaw, Mr Norris greets many of the multinational hospitality workers, ship's crew and service providers by their first name.

More than 30 different nationalities can be identified among both Real Journeys' summer and Cardrona winter staff, while the balance of 50% to 60%, depending on the season, are largely fulltime, permanent New Zealand staff.

Gender diversity ranges from about 40% up to 55% female across each operation.

Employing 1200 to 1500 people across its lower South Island and Stewart Island operation, Real Journeys is a significant economic contributor to the region, the largest tourism activities operator in Queenstown.

However, its own journey has not always been plain sailing.

Mr Lauder said tourism in Queenstown and Central Otago had been tough, especially in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes.

''Tourism here was at a real low in 2012,'' he said.

That year, 375,000 guests visited Milford Sound. By 2014, there were 460,000 and last year the 2012 low point was doubled to 750,000 visitors.

Both Mr Norris and Mr Lauder agreed that while tourism into New Zealand was still growing each quarter, growth had softened and some regions were harder hit than others.

Mr Lauder said there had been three consecutive years of greater than 10% growth each, but the past year was ''flat''.

''In general, it has really flattened off in Queenstown, the Southern Lakes and Fiordland.''

The ''pinch point'' was accommodation shortages in Queenstown and the Wakatipu Basin.

''Accommodation's become a real issue. It's becoming harder for wholesalers [of tours] to secure accommodation,'' he said.

Fewer people were taking tours, and many of those arriving in the district were spending less time there, he said.

However, numerous Queenstown construction developments had 1000 beds in the pipeline and other developers were seeking building consent.

''We'll continue to grow,'' Mr Lauder predicted.

Accommodation was also a major issue for Real Journeys staff and online short-term rentals were displacing long-term renting.

''That's become a double-edged sword for us,'' he said of AirBnB catering to tourists, but soaking up the rental housing stock.

Some of Real Journeys' staff can live and work aboard the larger vessels. There is land-based accommodation in Milford Sound and at Walter Peak a ''staff village'' is being moved and expanded, to eventually double accommodation to 50 people.

Mr Lauder ruled out Real Journeys entering the wider accommodation-provider market as a stand-alone developer.

All in the family

The Hutchins family still control Real Journeys. Les and Olive's son Bryan is a long-time board director, along with his son Nick, and there are five independent directors, plus a one-year director programme in place for other family members.

Les Hutchins garnered numerous awards for his dedication to conservation efforts.

In 1973, he was named a founding member of the Guardians of the Lakes, and has spent 12 years on the New Zealand Conservation Authority.

In 1998, he was awarded an Order of the British Empire, he was a founding patron of the New Zealand National Parks and Conservation Foundation, and in 2002 was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to conservation.

Mr Hutchins died in December 2003 and Olive recently retired in Queenstown.

The Hutchins were instrumental in breaking the government monopoly on tourism boats operating in Fiordland in 1970, fighting construction of the Manapouri power station, and were successful in fighting the raising of Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri.

The Hutchins bought TSS Earnslaw - which the government was considering scuttling in Lake Wakatipu - in 1969, Mr Lauder said.

Asked if Earnslaw was still viable and cost effective - it will be 107 years old next year - Mr Lauder conceded its annual running costs were ''significant''.

However, it carried 250,000 passengers annually and featured widely in any form of Queenstown marketing.

''It's always bungy and the Earnslaw images that people see when there is any story about tourism,'' he said.

Looking forward

Despite the soft tourism environment at present, Mr Lauder has a bright outlook for the next five years.

''There will be good global growth over the next few years, 5% to 7% [annually], especially from [increased] airline travel.''

About 35% of clients were from China, 40% combined Australian and domestic, 10% the United States and the balance from Europe, Japan, South America, Germany and other Southeast Asian countries.

He believed South America and India were the emerging tourism markets.

India, in particular, ''would be good for New Zealand'', as its national holiday period was the shoulder season here, he said.

At the height of the mid-September to mid-May season, the overall daily operations often host 5000 guests, including daily meals being prepared at Milford Sound and Walter Peak Station for about 2000 people.

''During the past five years, we've seen revenue triple ... this year there's 1.5million guests across the entire group,'' he said.

While ''off season'' downtime is essential to survey and maintain its large fleet of boats and vessels, the 2013 purchase of Cardrona, valued at close to $40million at the time, serves to keep cashflow ticking over, as that operation employs about 700 part and full-time staff during the ski season.

During the past five years, Real Journeys had bought eight complementary companies.

''Yes, there's been a big growth phase by acquisition ... but the hurdles are getting higher,'' Mr Lauder said.

Real Journeys would be going into a period of consolidation for the year ahead ''and will be a bit more conservative''.

It is a testament to the Hutchins family and present management's commitment to conservation that Real Journeys' most public accolades quietly lie in conservation achievements and awards.

The company at a glance

Recent awards 

  • November 2018:  Ranked 18th out of 20 on the annual Deloitte Master of Growth Index, and subsidiary Go Orange ranked 37th on the Deloitte Fast 50 Index.
  • 2018 (also 2017, 2016): TripAdviser — Certificate of Excellence for nine separate excursions.
  • 2017:  Peoples’ Choice winner NZ Tourism Industry Awards.
  • 2017:  Supreme Winner, 20th Diversity Awards NZ.
  • 2016-17:   Grand Pacific Tours Award — Best Hotel for Escorted Coach Tours.
  • 2016:  Viator Travel Awards — Top-rated Award.
  • 2015-16:  Grand Pacific Tours — Best Hotel for Luxury Coach Tours.
  • 2015  (also 2013): Tourism Export Council — Tour Operator of the Year.
  • 2008 (also 2007, 2006):  Tourism Export Council — Operator of the Year.Conservation commitments Leslie Hutchins Conservation Foundation — $1 passenger levy raises more than $50,000 annually for research into dolphins, protecting endangered birds, track work, education camps, wilding pine eradication.
  • 2018:   Cooper Island  Restoration Project, $85,0000 raised at last Conservation Ball.
  • 2016:  Conservation Ball raised $65,000 towards Dept of Conservation and its Dusky Sound Conservation and Restoration Project.
  • 2015:  Joint Doc and Real Journeys cruise raised $7500 towards  Dusky Sound Conservation and Restoration Project.
  • 2015:  Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust benefits by more than $15,000 from Doubtful Sound cruise.
  • 2015:  Walter Peak Charity event raises $35,000 towards Doc Kakapo Recovery Team.
  • 2015:  $10,000 per year donation towards whio blue duck recovery.
  • 2015:  Removal of 90ha of wilding Douglas fir at Walter Peak.

Acquisition trail 

  • 2002: Fiordland Travel Ltd operates all tourism excursions under Real Journeys brand, and changes company name to Real Journeys Ltd in 2006.
  • 2004:  Stewart Island Experience established and ferry services to Stewart Island started.
  • 2010:  100% acquisition of Fiordland Wilderness Experiences kayaking business.
  • 2012:  Real Journeys buys vessel Tasman Explorer, effectively taking ownership of Fiordland Explorer Charters.
  • 2013:  Real Journeys launches Go Orange brand combining Fiordland Wilderness Experiences,   Tasman Explorer  and  Milford Haven  (previously operated by Real Journeys,) into another independent business.
  • 2013:  Buys Cardrona Alpine Resort and a 155ha property at Walter Peak, which had previously been leased.
  • 2015:  Real Journeys buys the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch
  • 2016:  Real Journeys takes 100% ownership of Queenstown Rafting; NZ’s largest white water rafting operator. Also purchases Kiwi Discovery coach and skifield service company, to operate under the Go Orange brand.
  • 2016:  Real Journeys in joint venture with Rakiura Maori Trust for the Wild Kiwi Encounter at Stewart Island.
  • 2018:  Acquisition of Queenstown Rafting (2016) included the rafting base and Cavell’s Cafe at Arthurs Point, which was remodelled, plus installation of a micro-brewery, establishing Canyon Food & Brew Co.
  • 2018:  Go Orange expands, buying Lake Wakatipu Water Taxi and Ferry business.

Source: Real Journeys

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Travel and Leisure says: " Donna Thomas has explored many corners of North and South Islands in search of hidden gems. She can help birdwatchers see the endangered yellow-eyed penguin or send avid trekkers on guided hikes to secret waterfalls in Paparoa National Park. "

Real Journeys - Queenstown

Experience Fiordland National Park, a designated World Heritage area, and Queenstown with Real Journeys. They are a locally owned and operated company that has been sharing this incredibly beautiful part of New Zealand with travellers for 50 years.

Fiordland National Park located in South West New Zealand is the largest national park in New Zealand covering nearly 1.2 million hectares. As one of the world’s greatest wilderness areas Fiordland National Park is characterised by steep, jumbled topography, rugged coastline, dense rainforest and a challenging climate.

The exceptional beauty of this landscape has long been recognised with Fiordland National Parks creation in 1952 and being declared a World Heritage Area in 1986. (World Heritage is a global concept where natural and cultural sites of world significance - places so special that protecting them is of concern to all people are identified.)

In 1990, Fiordland was linked with three other national parks, Mount Aspiring, Westland/Tai Poutini, and Aoraki/Mt Cook, to form an expanded World Heritage Area of South West New Zealand. It acquired the Maori name of Te Wahipounamu (the place of greenstone).

Much of Fiordland National Park is inaccessible by road, however, the Milford Road, considered to be one of the finest alpine drives in the world, provides access to Milford Sound - the most famous of the fiords. Milford Sound is at the mountainous northern end of the national park and is renowned for Mitre Peak. The image of mile high Mitre Peak soaring above its sheltered waters has been a symbol of New Zealand’s wild and scenic character for the best part of a century.

Doubtful Sound is the second most accessible and visited fiord in Fiordland National Park. The route to Doubtful Sound includes a cruise across Lake Manapouri and a coach trip over Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove at the head of Doubtful Sound. This fiord is the second largest of Fiordland National Park’s fourteen fiords and it is three times larger than Milford Sound. Doubtful Sound is known not only for its breathtaking scenery, but also for its abundant wildlife - bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and penguins.

The best way to experience the vast and remote Fiordland National Park is by taking a cruise on Milford or Doubtful Sounds.

Other highlights in Fiordland National Park include a variety of well established walking tracks, including a one day guided walk on the world famous Milford Track, the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, and other outdoor activities such as fishing, golf etc.

Te Anau, located on the shores of Lake Te Anau (the largest lake in the South Island of New Zealand), is the gateway to Fiordland National Park. This attractive township has a full range of accommodation options, a variety of restaurants, retail outlets and other services. It is located approximately 2.5 hours drive south of Queenstown.

Queenstown, in the Central Otago region of New Zealand, nestles beside the sparkling waters of Lake Wakatipu and at the foot of the imposing Remarkables Range. The resort is readily accessible by road and air. It has an international airport with flights directly to and from Australia and other key destinations in New Zealand - Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington and Christchurch.

Queenstown is one of New Zealand’s most popular resorts offering visitors a vast array of attractions and activities all year round. These include action packed thrills, sporting activities, wine trails, galleries, museums, shopping, a variety of restaurants and bars and so on. Queenstown is known for the regular sailing of the beautifully restored vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Farm . The TSS Earnslaw has long been a feature of Queenstown with a history dating back to 1912.

Across Foveaux Strait from Bluff at the bottom of the South Island lies Stewart Island, one of New Zealand's largely undiscovered eco-adventure destinations. Readily accessible by ferry or aircraft, Stewart Island attracts nature lovers from around the world for either a one-day excursion or a more leisurely stay.

With its network of stunning bays, inlets, golden sand beaches and bush clad mountains; Stewart Island combines a spectacular mix of inspiring landscapes.

Stewart Island Experience runs regular ferry services with daily departures between Bluff and Oban, on board our comfortable catamarans. The crossing takes one hour. There are coach and flight connections from Invercargill, Queenstown and Te Anau. Car storage is available at our Bluff Visitor Terminal.

Activities and attractions include cruising to Paterson Inlet, taking a trip to Ulva Island Wildlife Sanctuary to view the many birds and flora, or simply exploring Oban and gaining an insight into the community, history and environment.

As 85% of the island comprises the Rakiura National Park, it is the ideal place to see kiwi in their natural habitat. There are many eco-friendly activities available on and around Stewart Island - from viewing the wildlife, to walking, boating, fishing, diving, kayaking, or simply relaxing.

Ready to create your perfect New Zealand Vacation?

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A Word from our customers

My wife and I visited New Zealand from March 16 to May 3, 2013. We created a list of things we wanted to do, and gave it to Donna Thomas to work on. She suggested a few additions and deletions, and set up an itinerary for us that included lodging, rental cars, ferrys, internal flights and activities. After a little negotiation, using both email and telephone, we agreed on details. Donna and her associates were very accommodating and knowledgeable during this entire process.

We were extremely satisfied with all but two of our accommodations and in those two cases, the issues were not something a travel agent would be responsible for. Several of the proprietors knew Donna personally and spoke warmly of her. Concerning activities, those that had not been on our list but suggested by Donna turned out to be very well worth doing. All of the value-added items a travel agent can bring to the table were provided, with elan, by New Zealand Travel.

A local New Zealand travel agency will work with Donna's clients during their in-country travels, if necessary. When my wife injured herself fairly early in our sojourn, this resource became very valuable to us. The agent was able to recommend specific physicians with appropriate expertise, and they were very helpful -- prior to seeing the first one, we were on the verge of returning home but ended up completing the trip as planned.

The bottom line is that we are totally satisfied with all aspects of New Zealand Travel's service to us. We recommend them, without reservation, to anyone considering a trip to New Zealand.

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Milford Sound Cruise - RealNZ

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Milford Sound Cruise from Queenstown or Te Anau

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Premium Milford Sound Cruise Including Lunch

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REALNZ (Milford Sound) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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Milford Sound Cruise - RealNZ

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Milford Sound Cruise from Queenstown or Te Anau

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Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

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RealNZ - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)


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Enabled by tourism, our vision is to be a leading conservation business. We are committed to the future of sustainable tourism while honouring our past. Our guest centric attitude is fuelled by our promise to deliver Aotearoa’s most unforgettable experiences.

Here at RealNZ we encourage people to be themselves, respect the environments we operate in and respect each other. We are committed to empowering people, so they can have a voice, be heard and be present.

Our people and our experiences stretch across our most remote islands and fiords to our snow-capped maunga; we are a diverse group of people, and our passion to share incredible environments and experiences with guests drives us every day. Join us on our mission to conserve nature, share our history and culture and have fun every step of the way.

If you’re looking for opportunities within our ski team, please visit: employment.cardrona.com .

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Russia's Nuclear Deterrent Command Center Imperiled by Winter Freeze—Report

A Russian nuclear deterrent command center in Moscow has been imperiled by power outages that have impacted more than one-quarter of the region's cities amid freezing temperatures, a Russian Telegram channel has reported.

The VChK-OGPU outlet, which purports to have inside information from Russian security forces, reported that the 820th Main Center for Missile Attack Warnings—part of the Russian Space Forces, a branch of the country's Aerospace Forces—near Solnechnogorsk in Moscow is without power.

It serves as the space forces early warning network against potential ballistic missile attacks.

The development comes as Russians are reported to be suffering from power outages in their homes in the Moscow region caused by technical issues at plants amid subzero temperatures.

On January 4, a heating main burst at the Klimovsk Specialized Ammunition Plant in the town of Podolsk, which is about 30 miles south of central Moscow. Since then, tens of thousands of Russians are reported to have no heating in their homes.

Affected areas include the cities of Khimki, Balashikha, Lobnya, Lyubertsy, Podolsk, Chekhov and Naro-Fominsk, a map published by a Russian Telegram channel and shared on other social media sites shows.

Other Russian media outlets reported that in Moscow, residents of Balashikha, Elektrostal, Solnechnogorsk, Dmitrov, Domodedovo, Troitsk, Taldom, Orekhovo-Zuyevo, Krasnogorsk, Pushkino, Ramenskoye, Voskresensk, Losino-Petrovsky and Selyatino are also without power.

The Telegram channel said that at the 820th Main Center for Missile Attack Warnings, "the crew...is on duty around the clock."

"It is here that the decision on a retaliatory nuclear strike is executed," the channel said.

Newsweek could not independently verify the report and has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry by email for comment.

Power outages have also been reported in Russia's second-largest city, St. Petersburg, in the country's western Voronezh region, in the southwest city of Volgograd, and in Rostov, which borders Ukraine, a country that Russia has been at war with since February 24, 2022.

On Sunday, two shopping malls in St. Petersburg were forced to close because of problems with light and heating, reported local news outlet 78.ru. Hundreds of other homes in the city have had no electricity, water or heating for days amid temperatures of -25 C (-13 F).

Russian authorities have also been forced to compensate passengers of a train that ran from Samara to St. Petersburg (a 20-hour journey) without heating during -30 C (-22 F) temperatures. Videos circulating on social media showed carriage windows frozen over. A passenger also said the toilet didn't work during the trip because of frozen pipes.

Do you have a tip on a world news story that Newsweek should be covering? Do you have a question about the Russia-Ukraine war? Let us know via [email protected].

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A Russian Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launcher parades through Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in central Moscow on May 9, 2022. A Russian nuclear deterrent command center in Moscow has reportedly been imperiled by power outages.

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40 facts about elektrostal.

Lanette Mayes

Written by Lanette Mayes

Modified & Updated: 02 Mar 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Elektrostal is a vibrant city located in the Moscow Oblast region of Russia. With a rich history, stunning architecture, and a thriving community, Elektrostal is a city that has much to offer. Whether you are a history buff, nature enthusiast, or simply curious about different cultures, Elektrostal is sure to captivate you.

This article will provide you with 40 fascinating facts about Elektrostal, giving you a better understanding of why this city is worth exploring. From its origins as an industrial hub to its modern-day charm, we will delve into the various aspects that make Elektrostal a unique and must-visit destination.

So, join us as we uncover the hidden treasures of Elektrostal and discover what makes this city a true gem in the heart of Russia.

Key Takeaways:

  • Elektrostal, known as the “Motor City of Russia,” is a vibrant and growing city with a rich industrial history, offering diverse cultural experiences and a strong commitment to environmental sustainability.
  • With its convenient location near Moscow, Elektrostal provides a picturesque landscape, vibrant nightlife, and a range of recreational activities, making it an ideal destination for residents and visitors alike.

Known as the “Motor City of Russia.”

Elektrostal, a city located in the Moscow Oblast region of Russia, earned the nickname “Motor City” due to its significant involvement in the automotive industry.

Home to the Elektrostal Metallurgical Plant.

Elektrostal is renowned for its metallurgical plant, which has been producing high-quality steel and alloys since its establishment in 1916.

Boasts a rich industrial heritage.

Elektrostal has a long history of industrial development, contributing to the growth and progress of the region.

Founded in 1916.

The city of Elektrostal was founded in 1916 as a result of the construction of the Elektrostal Metallurgical Plant.

Located approximately 50 kilometers east of Moscow.

Elektrostal is situated in close proximity to the Russian capital, making it easily accessible for both residents and visitors.

Known for its vibrant cultural scene.

Elektrostal is home to several cultural institutions, including museums, theaters, and art galleries that showcase the city’s rich artistic heritage.

A popular destination for nature lovers.

Surrounded by picturesque landscapes and forests, Elektrostal offers ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and birdwatching.

Hosts the annual Elektrostal City Day celebrations.

Every year, Elektrostal organizes festive events and activities to celebrate its founding, bringing together residents and visitors in a spirit of unity and joy.

Has a population of approximately 160,000 people.

Elektrostal is home to a diverse and vibrant community of around 160,000 residents, contributing to its dynamic atmosphere.

Boasts excellent education facilities.

The city is known for its well-established educational institutions, providing quality education to students of all ages.

A center for scientific research and innovation.

Elektrostal serves as an important hub for scientific research, particularly in the fields of metallurgy, materials science, and engineering.

Surrounded by picturesque lakes.

The city is blessed with numerous beautiful lakes, offering scenic views and recreational opportunities for locals and visitors alike.

Well-connected transportation system.

Elektrostal benefits from an efficient transportation network, including highways, railways, and public transportation options, ensuring convenient travel within and beyond the city.

Famous for its traditional Russian cuisine.

Food enthusiasts can indulge in authentic Russian dishes at numerous restaurants and cafes scattered throughout Elektrostal.

Home to notable architectural landmarks.

Elektrostal boasts impressive architecture, including the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord and the Elektrostal Palace of Culture.

Offers a wide range of recreational facilities.

Residents and visitors can enjoy various recreational activities, such as sports complexes, swimming pools, and fitness centers, enhancing the overall quality of life.

Provides a high standard of healthcare.

Elektrostal is equipped with modern medical facilities, ensuring residents have access to quality healthcare services.

Home to the Elektrostal History Museum.

The Elektrostal History Museum showcases the city’s fascinating past through exhibitions and displays.

A hub for sports enthusiasts.

Elektrostal is passionate about sports, with numerous stadiums, arenas, and sports clubs offering opportunities for athletes and spectators.

Celebrates diverse cultural festivals.

Throughout the year, Elektrostal hosts a variety of cultural festivals, celebrating different ethnicities, traditions, and art forms.

Electric power played a significant role in its early development.

Elektrostal owes its name and initial growth to the establishment of electric power stations and the utilization of electricity in the industrial sector.

Boasts a thriving economy.

The city’s strong industrial base, coupled with its strategic location near Moscow, has contributed to Elektrostal’s prosperous economic status.

Houses the Elektrostal Drama Theater.

The Elektrostal Drama Theater is a cultural centerpiece, attracting theater enthusiasts from far and wide.

Popular destination for winter sports.

Elektrostal’s proximity to ski resorts and winter sport facilities makes it a favorite destination for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities.

Promotes environmental sustainability.

Elektrostal prioritizes environmental protection and sustainability, implementing initiatives to reduce pollution and preserve natural resources.

Home to renowned educational institutions.

Elektrostal is known for its prestigious schools and universities, offering a wide range of academic programs to students.

Committed to cultural preservation.

The city values its cultural heritage and takes active steps to preserve and promote traditional customs, crafts, and arts.

Hosts an annual International Film Festival.

The Elektrostal International Film Festival attracts filmmakers and cinema enthusiasts from around the world, showcasing a diverse range of films.

Encourages entrepreneurship and innovation.

Elektrostal supports aspiring entrepreneurs and fosters a culture of innovation, providing opportunities for startups and business development.

Offers a range of housing options.

Elektrostal provides diverse housing options, including apartments, houses, and residential complexes, catering to different lifestyles and budgets.

Home to notable sports teams.

Elektrostal is proud of its sports legacy, with several successful sports teams competing at regional and national levels.

Boasts a vibrant nightlife scene.

Residents and visitors can enjoy a lively nightlife in Elektrostal, with numerous bars, clubs, and entertainment venues.

Promotes cultural exchange and international relations.

Elektrostal actively engages in international partnerships, cultural exchanges, and diplomatic collaborations to foster global connections.

Surrounded by beautiful nature reserves.

Nearby nature reserves, such as the Barybino Forest and Luchinskoye Lake, offer opportunities for nature enthusiasts to explore and appreciate the region’s biodiversity.

Commemorates historical events.

The city pays tribute to significant historical events through memorials, monuments, and exhibitions, ensuring the preservation of collective memory.

Promotes sports and youth development.

Elektrostal invests in sports infrastructure and programs to encourage youth participation, health, and physical fitness.

Hosts annual cultural and artistic festivals.

Throughout the year, Elektrostal celebrates its cultural diversity through festivals dedicated to music, dance, art, and theater.

Provides a picturesque landscape for photography enthusiasts.

The city’s scenic beauty, architectural landmarks, and natural surroundings make it a paradise for photographers.

Connects to Moscow via a direct train line.

The convenient train connection between Elektrostal and Moscow makes commuting between the two cities effortless.

A city with a bright future.

Elektrostal continues to grow and develop, aiming to become a model city in terms of infrastructure, sustainability, and quality of life for its residents.

In conclusion, Elektrostal is a fascinating city with a rich history and a vibrant present. From its origins as a center of steel production to its modern-day status as a hub for education and industry, Elektrostal has plenty to offer both residents and visitors. With its beautiful parks, cultural attractions, and proximity to Moscow, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this dynamic city. Whether you’re interested in exploring its historical landmarks, enjoying outdoor activities, or immersing yourself in the local culture, Elektrostal has something for everyone. So, next time you find yourself in the Moscow region, don’t miss the opportunity to discover the hidden gems of Elektrostal.

Q: What is the population of Elektrostal?

A: As of the latest data, the population of Elektrostal is approximately XXXX.

Q: How far is Elektrostal from Moscow?

A: Elektrostal is located approximately XX kilometers away from Moscow.

Q: Are there any famous landmarks in Elektrostal?

A: Yes, Elektrostal is home to several notable landmarks, including XXXX and XXXX.

Q: What industries are prominent in Elektrostal?

A: Elektrostal is known for its steel production industry and is also a center for engineering and manufacturing.

Q: Are there any universities or educational institutions in Elektrostal?

A: Yes, Elektrostal is home to XXXX University and several other educational institutions.

Q: What are some popular outdoor activities in Elektrostal?

A: Elektrostal offers several outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and picnicking in its beautiful parks.

Q: Is Elektrostal well-connected in terms of transportation?

A: Yes, Elektrostal has good transportation links, including trains and buses, making it easily accessible from nearby cities.

Q: Are there any annual events or festivals in Elektrostal?

A: Yes, Elektrostal hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, including XXXX and XXXX.

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Whakatipu Queenstown

Experience the best of Whakatipu Queenstown through a wide range of activities from vintage steamship cruises , farm tours and long lunches at Walter Peak to jet boating and whitewater rafting .

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Walter Peak Independent Cycling

A spectacular alpine resort with magnificent scenery, Queenstown is set on the shores of crystal clear Lake Whakatipu and is a four season destination.

A trip aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw is one of the town’s iconic experiences – much more than a lake cruise, this is a trip back in time, a vantage point for some of the world’s most spectacular scenery, plus your ticket to a working sheep station. 

Disembarking at Walter Peak High Country Farm there are many ways to experience a traditional New Zealand way of life.  You can choose to interact with animals in a Farm Tour , head into the high country with a Horse Trek or explore further afield on the back roads with the Independent cycling options.

Most tours include a superb morning or afternoon tea at the Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant and time for a wander around the glorious lakeside colonial gardens. You can stay for a sizzling Gourmet Barbecue Lunch or make a special dinner trip culminating in an expansive evening meal. If you are looking for a superb restaurant in Queenstown, the Colonel's Homestead Restaurant is more than just dining but an experience in itself!

The TSS Earnslaw is a ‘must do’ activity in Queenstown, and you’ll surely be disappointed if you don’t plan to stay a while at her destination.

Queenstown is the perfect place to base yourself and explore the local areas - we offer a range of activities and tours from Queenstown to Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Te Anau and Stewart Island.

TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship cruising into Queenstown Bay

TSS Earnslaw and Queenstown

Getting to Queenstown

The town of Queenstown is well connected by air and by road.

You can fly into Queenstown from all the main centres domestically – Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Internationally, Queenstown is connected to Australia with direct flights from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Queenstown is served by major airlines all year round – Air New Zealand, Qantas and Jetstar. 

Driving to Queenstown by road is pretty spectacular. You can drive yourself, take a bus or join a coach tour. By road it takes around 6 hours to get to Queenstown from Christchurch. 

Queenstown History

Visited by Maori in search of Pounamu and food from the 11th Century, the first European settlers came in search of grazing land in the 1850s.

Gold discovery in 1862 sparked a prospecting rush and within a year, Queenstown was a permanently settled mining town with a population of several thousand. It is said that Queenstown was so named when a local gold digger declared the town ‘fit for Queen Victoria’.

Lake Whakatipu was the area’s transport artery and in 1912, the TSS Earnslaw was launched at Kingston on the southern tip of the lake.

After the gold industry declined, the population shrunk until the 1950s when the town’s reputation as a holiday destination began to take hold.

In 1970, Te Anau company RealNZ – then known as Fiordland Travel – bought the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw as the town’s tourism appeal began to spread internationally.

Adventure tourism credentials became established throughout the 1980s. In 1984, Queenstown Milford Sound coach connections were established. In 1987 aircraft connections between the two destinations began.

In 1988 Bungy Jumping from Kawarau Bridge truly launched Queenstown as the adventure tourism capital of the world.

Queenstown is now well known as one of the world’s great year round tourism resorts popular with people from all over the world.

Queenstown lies at latitude 45 degrees and within the rain shadow of the Southern Alps. It enjoys a temperate maritime climate including four distinct seasons:

  • Spring (September – November): Average temperatures between 3°C and 20°C
  • Summer (December – February): Average temperatures between 10°C and 25°C
  • Autumn (March – May): Average temperatures between 3°C and 20°C
  • Winter (June – August): Average temperatures between -2°C and 8°C

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