Premier South Island tourism company Southern Discoveries has been named Operator of the Year 2015 at the Tourism Export Council of New Zealand Awards (TECNZ).

Delivering exceptional tourism experiences in Queenstown and Fiordland, Southern Discoveries is a joint winner of the award, which was announced in Dunedin at the annual awards ceremony on Monday night.

Inbound tour operators selected the winners from several hundred tourism operator members who offer a wide range of tourism products throughout New Zealand.

Southern Discoveries director of sales and marketing Julia Savill said the win was an “exciting” validation of the company’s work in the wholesale sector.

“It’s fantastic recognition of our work,” she said. “Our client partnerships are incredibly valuable and this award is the ultimate endorsement.

“Our recent investment in specialist staff demonstrates our efforts to train and educate our travel seller partners, meaning they can better sell our products.

“We’re going through exciting changes to our product offerings, and this award tells us that we’re on the right track.

“It also makes sure we stay on this path so that we continue to deliver the best experience to our customers.”

Ms Savill said the award was a true reflection of the “outstanding work” of the company as a whole and said she would like to thank Southern Discoveries’ inbound partners and TECNZ for the recognition.

“We value our relationships with those who can promote and sell us offshore and look forward to working together towards a successful summer season ahead.”

The TECNZ Operator of the Year award is a prestigious and much-sought after award recognising excellence and outstanding visitor experience.

It’s the second time Southern Discoveries has taken home the award, after winning in 2011. Operating in both Queenstown and Fiordland, the company offers a wide range of cruises and tour options across Lake Wakatipu and into Milford Sound.

In Milford Sound, trips include the Scenic, Nature, Encounter Nature and Discover More Cruises, plus a kayaking experience through the fiord’s beautiful waters. The company also operates the Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory, New Zealand’s only floating underwater observatory, and Te Anau-based coach service Go Milford Day Trip.

Southern Discoveries’ newest addition – Spirit of Queenstown – cruises across spectacular Lake Wakatipu, and offers farm experiences at Mt Nicholas High Country Farm.

The company continues to develop its offering, striving to deliver the very best customer experience. There is also ongoing product development in Queenstown, with work underway on a new cycling experience at Mt Nicholas High Country Farm.

By employing more staff, including multi-lingual frontline consultants and offshore sales team members, Southern Discoveries has been able to engage more than ever with its distribution channels.

“We’ve been included in increasing numbers of wholesale/inbound campaign initiatives, and more partnerships are being developed with suppliers throughout New Zealand,” said Julia.

“Inbound tour operator engagement is at its greatest level and only growing across all markets.”


Picture captions:

1/ Spirit of Queenstown cruises in front of The Remarkables

Spirit of Queenstown in winter
2/ Spirit of Milford in front of Mitre Peak

Nature Cruise (1)


For further media information please contact:

Julia Savill
Director of Sales and Marketing
Southern Discoveries
03 441 8231

Fi Wilkins
Southern PR
03 441 1117

About Southern Discoveries
Southern Discoveries operates four vessels at Milford Sound ranging in capacity from 35 to 400 passengers, and offers the widest range of trips and experiences in the fiord.

The company operates Scenic Cruises, Nature Cruises, Encounter Nature Cruises, Cruise and Kayak Milford Sound and the Discover More Cruise which incorporates a visit to the Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory.

It owns and operates the Blue Duck Café in Milford, three information centres in Te Anau and Queenstown, and Te Anau-based coach service Go Milford Day Trip. Southern Discoveries also own a shareholding in Milford Sound Lodge.

The company operates Queenstown Lake Cruise which provides day and charter cruises on Lake Wakatipu for up to 35 people and it owns 50% of KJet, Queenstown’s original Jet boat operator.

Southern Discoveries newest addition, Spirit of Queenstown, launched in December 2013 and operates exclusive cruises to Mt Nicholas High Country Farm on the western shores of Lake Wakatipu. Visitors can choose from a range of excursions including a Scenic Cruise on Spirit of Queenstown, or an authentic Farm Experience at Mt Nicholas to meet to the working farm animals, get up close to merino sheep and get off the beaten track into the landscape for short walks to spectacular vantage points. Carrying up to 120 passengers, Spirit of Queenstown is also available for private hire and charters.

Southern Discoveries ongoing commitment to conservation is through the Sinbad Sanctuary Project in conjunction with Fiordland Conservation Trust and Department of Conservation.