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General

Not using chat? Learn why you’re losing customers without even knowing it

Facts about travellers:

1.     Travellers want answers to their questions immediately

2.     If travellers have questions they’re uncertain and not going to book until they’re answered.

3.     Chat is now the most popular form of communication

Yonder can help solve this problem with a tourism specific chatbot

Virtual assistants can answer questions immediately, if trained and built well.  They’re not going to answer 100% of questions but they’ll answer a lot.  Each business gets around 20 commonly asked questions – maybe people haven’t read the website, they’re looking for extra re-assurance, or maybe they just didn’t understand something.  The chat is another way to engage and ask a question. The virtual assistant is there to provide answers, or acknowledge someone when it doesn’t know and then gets the details of that person for you to respond later.

Yonder’s experience is 35 – 65% success rate at answering questions immediately, depending on complexity of the business.

The benefits of a virtual assistant:

If each of those conversations takes:

5 minutes staff time,

a potential $200 booking,

and you maybe 5 chats per day

then even in the low case of 35% success rate responding immediately then 50conversations a month get immediate answers which equates to:

over 3hours of staff time saved

$12,000 influenced sales in that month.  

That is a great return on investment!  And it’s from existing website traffic, no extra marketing spend.

Why choose Yonder’s virtual assistant?

Yonder builds tourism specific virtual assistants, it’s the sole thing they focus on.  They have built unique AI technology which means tourism businesses can be up and running quickly. Their AI is based on hundreds of thousands of conversations, which one tourism business by itself could never achieve.  That means they can deliver best in class results.

General Top Things To Do

Things to do in Ohakune

Great outdoor activities around Ohakune, Central Plateau Region, NZ

There are many things to do for individual travellers and families travelling through Ohakune, New Zealand, such as skiing in winter, mountain biking, canoeing/kayaking, hiking and climbing.  Ohakune is a great place to play and explore both in summer and winter. In winter hitting the slopes of Mt Ruapehu is necessary, however, there is still lots of thing to do in Ohakune that does not involve skiing.

Skiing

Ohakune sits at the base of Mt Ruapehu and in winter is the closest town to the Turoa Ski Resort. It’s a happening little town in winter as people flock to try out the great back country bowls and even hike to the summit to ski down the whole mountain. For children the ski area is well set up with magic carpets and gentle slopes and childcare available on site if the children become tired!

If you want to go skiing you can find places to hire skis here.  On good days the town is heaving so don’t miss out! Catch the bus from Ohakune township or drive up and park in one of the top car parks.

Biking

Biking over the viaduct as part of the Ohakune Old Coach Road trail, amazing!

As well as skiing Ohakune offers individuals and families great options in bike paths and trails around the town. For the avid adventurers Ohakune is a great location to start the Bridge to Nowhere Bike trail (fitness and MTB experience a must). For travellers and families that want to see the New Zealand country side, history and have some fun then the Ohakune Old Coach Road is a definite must. If you have little children with you then the local pump track for little bikers is great and lots of family fun or hire kids bikes and take the family along for an adventure!

Hiking

If you are not keen on the skiing in winter or biking, which can be done all year round, then tie up your hiking boots and head out on some great walks around the National Park with the spectacular Mt Ruapehu in the background! The Mangawhero Forest Walk begins by crossing the Mangawhero River from which it gains its name. Running over a bed of red tinged rocks, this river starts high up Mount Ruapehu and descends over two giant waterfalls, carving its way through the debris of previous eruptions. It’s an hours walk and well worth the effort!

Canoe and Kayaking

1-5 day Wanganui river canoe trips with Yeti Tours

While in Ohakune and so close don’t forget to head to Yeti Tours and book a day or two on the Whanganui River. Freedom hire your own canoe or join a guided tour which takes you down the Whanganui River into the heart of New Zealand back country. If you overnight on the two nights or more day trips then you experience kiwi camping or Department of Conservation Huts and explore the great kiwi outdoors!

Climbing

For the travellers who want to stay closer to the Ohakune township then head into the climbing wall at Vertical Climbing. This is a purpose built climbing wall for all ages and is great on both summer and winter days!

Have fun in Ohakune and make sure that you take your picture with the giant carrot!!

 

 

Top Things To Do

Family Things to do in Turangi

Things to do in Turangi

Family Things to do in Turangi, Great Lake Taupo, New Zealand

Family things to do in Turangi are plentiful in both summer and winter.Things to do in Turangi and the areas close by include climbing walls, white water rafting, hikes, trout fishing, mini putt, hot pools and biking. Only 45 minutes away from Turangi is the Whakapapa ski field which is great for families in winter and a fun trip sightseeing to the Knoll Ridge Café in summer. If your family is a little older you might also like to complete the Tongariro Crossing (recommended for children aged 14 +).

 

White Water Rafting

Great fun white water rafting down the Tongariro River in both summer and winter.

Running beside Turangi is the Tongariro River, famous for its trout fishing and white water rafting! Head to the Tongariro River Rafting Company. With many years of experience they can take you down anything from grade 2 to grade 4 rapids. The family grade 2 is great for children aged 3 years and older and a real family adventure! The grade 3 is more suited to older children aged 10 years and over.

Trout Fishing & Viewing

Taking your children trout fishing is another experience that you can easily organise and take part in while visiting Turangi! There are some local guides who can help you out or just take your children to go and watch the local fisherman, you can find them all along the Tongaririo River Trail Walk/Cycle Way. Only 5 minutes out of Turangi Township heading South is the Tongariro National Trout Centre where you and your family can get up close and personal with the trout that are released into the Tongariro River. Feeding the trout is a highlight and the information about the breeding scheme is interesting and informative.

Mountain Biking

Family Biking the Tongariro River Trail, an easy grade 2 loop track.

Mountain biking the Tongariro River Trail is great fun and so easy to access from the centre of town where you hire bikes from. This is a mellow grade 2 trail which is wide and well surfaced. It starts from the Turangi township as the river exits into Lake Taupo on the Northern end of town. Follow along the beautiful clear waters of the Tongariro river, stopping to spot trout along the way. Pedal away from Turangi along the river until you’ve had enough then turn around or do the loop ride which is approximately 15km long and suitable for the whole family. If you would like a guided tour of this track from a local guide then you and your family can learn about the history of this great River and its surroundings!

Pukawa, Kuratau & Tokonou

Continuing to explore the surrounding hot spots in Turangi check out Pukawa and Kuratau in the summer. These two little Bays, only 15 minutes West of Turangi are amazing for some summer swimming and a must when looking for family things to do! Heading to or from these bays make sure to stop at the Tokonou Thermal Hot Pools. These are great value for the family and don’t miss the little thermal walk next to the hot pools which has boiling mud and steaming mud!

Mini Putt

Heading back into the middle of Turangi there is a great mini putt course that is always popular with both families and couples! The layout is great and easily accessible from anywhere in town. From here you can also walk or drive 2 minutes to the climbing wall Vertical Assault Turangi. This is a fantastic family activity as they have walls for both the timid and adventurous children and adults!

Hikes

Heading back out into nature one the the family things to do in Turangi is to take the kids and check out heaps of the great hikes/walks that are around the area. From the Tongariro River Trail to the Pukawa Bays Walks there is a walk for every level and interest from scenic to historic! Spot the predator traps that are out and about. These traps are set to catch the pests that attack the New Zealand native kiwi. Spot the endangered blue duck only found in New Zealand.

The only problem with Turangi for family things to do is the choice! You need to stay for at least a few days to see and experience everything that makes this little town tick!

Recommendations

Places to Stay:

Tongariro Lodge

Tongariro River Motel

Places to Eat:

Lakeland House Restaurant

Tongariro Lodge

Mountain Biking

How to ride the Great Lake Taupo bike trail

Great Lake Taupo Cycle Trail

The Great Lake Taupo Bike Trail has had significant investment in recent years.  There are a bunch of different ways to ride the Great Lake Taupo Bike Trail.  Official websites describe flexibility to cycle it in every direction or stage (there are 3 sections), many businesses offer an endless number of shuttle options.  But all of those options make my head hurt!

Here are my well researched tips on how to ride the Great Lake Taupo bike trail. 

I’ve broken it down to 3 different flavours:

  1. Ride the Eastern sections – Intermediate to advanced riders, half a day
  2. Ride a single section –  Beginner to intermediate riders, half a day
  3. Smash out the full trail in a day – Advanced or fit riders, full day

1. Recommended ride for intermediate – advanced riders – 34km

Start – Orakau carpark (30km from Taupo).  Start riding at around 9.30

Orakau to Kawakawa Bay:  10km -1h. 

Kawakawa Bay to Kinloch  K2K:  9km – 1.5h

Kinloch for lunch.

Kinloch to Whapaipo – W2K:  13 km – 2h

Finish – Whakaipo Bay (13km from Taupo).  At your car/shuttle by 3pm

Total distance:  34 km

 

Logistics:

Option 1:  Park your own car at Whakaipo.  Catch a shuttle to Orakau carpark

Option 2:  Shuttle from Taupo – Orakau.  Shuttle Whakaipo to Taupo.

Do you have a bike?  Just arrange a shuttle from FourB

Do you need to hire a bike?  FourB also provide a range of regular and electric mountain bikes

 

Recommended ride for beginner to intermediate riders – 20 km:

Start – Orakau carpark

Finish – Kinloch – 20km

Distance – 20km

 

This trail is mostly downhill.

 

Full trail

Start – Waihaha (45mins drive from Taupo)

Ride the 25km from Waihaha, take the boat across to Kawakawa or Kinloch

Kawakawa Bay to Kinloch  K2K:  9km – 1.5h

Kinloch to Whapaipo – W2K:  13 km – 2h

Finish – Waikapo

Distance:  54 – 63km  – 6-8 h riding

 

Logistics:

You’ll almost certainly need a shuttle to get you to Waihaha.  You could either meet in Taupo or at the finish at Waikapo (probably easiest so you can be more flexible with time).

You’ll need to arrange a boat trip with your bikes, any Operator can do this.  Around $75-100 depending on # people.

Variation:  You can shorten this trip a bit by finishing in Kinloch instead of Waihaha.  But honestly, you’re so close to finishing the whole trail in one, just do it!

 

Other options:

Western side only – start and finish at your car at Waihaha

This is a cost effective day trip of the western side, it’s easiest to start and finish yourself at Waihaha, which unfortunately means riding back on yourself.    Rent your bike in Taupo and throw it in the back of your car (if you’ve got room!).

Western side only – start at Waihaha and finish at Kinloch

This is an expensive option just to get a boat ride with a mountain bike.  You’ll need a shuttle from Kinloch to Waihaha ($50+ per person) and $75-100pp for the boat ride.

Cycle back to Taupo instead of catching a shuttle?

It’s pretty boring and chances are you’re knackered after the long ride.

 

Where to hire bikes and get shuttles?

Hire a bike in Taupo.

FourB will bring the bike to you with their shuttle.  They hire out electric mountain bikes, which would be a great option for less fit or experienced riders to keep up with (or even overtake) the group.

Taupo Mountain Bike Hire Huka Falls are the only Operator hiring out Full Suspension bikes, which would be a dream to ride on this sort of track.

Find a bike to hire and book a shuttle

More information:

The Taupo website has more information about the trails.

Equipment Mountain Biking

Choosing a Bike Helmet in New Zealand

Mountain Bike helmet selection

Getting the right bike helmet could save your life!

All bike helmets sold in New Zealand and Australia must meet a government approved safety standard, so you can rest assured that no matter what you buy from a legitimate retailer, it will be safe.

(With thanks to Torpedo Seven for the following article on choosing a bike helmet)

Bike helmets are an absolutely essential piece of gear when you are riding a bike, not only because it is illegal not to wear one in New Zealand, but because bike helmets could save your life if you are in an accident. 

Bike Helmets come in three basic styles; street style, road and mountain. Different styles have features specific to their riding situation. All helmets are designed to protect a riders head from impact at the same time as being both lightweight and comfortable to wear. 

 

Helmet Construction:

The differences: There are 2 main types of bike helmet construction, hard shell & in mould construction. Entry level mountain bike helmets consist of a foam liner that is taped or glued to a hard shell exterior. This type of construction makes the helmet slightly heavier with fewer venting options.

The majority of medium to high end bike helmets will have an in mould construction. This means the interior liner of the helmet is built into the hard outer shell while it is still in the manufacturing mold. Therefore, creating one piece of material with a hard outer. In mould helmets are lighter, stronger and have more venting options.

There is generally no difference between the two options in terms of protection and overall safety.

The benefits: The main points of difference is hard shell construction bike helmets have a cost benefit (cheaper to buy), and in mould helmets have a weight and ventilation benefit. However, with the added benefits of in mould you can expect to see a higher price tag associated with the technology.

Helmet Construction Materials

There are also some lesser known technologies making there way in to bike helmet construction, the most prominent of those is the use of Koroyd (honeycomb material) in combination with EPS foam (in mould). The use of Koroyd in the construction of bike helmets allows manufacturers to drastically cut weight and volume, without compromising protection. 

Key Features of a Helmet

Liner: Most inner helmets are made of expandable polystyrene (EPS) foam, designed to dissipate the force of impact. EPS foam liners are an industry standard for action sports, have a low-profile and are lightweight. Higher end helmets are made out of lighter and stronger materials, therefore the more expensive the helmet, the more force it will absorb when your head takes a knock.

Shell: The outer component of a bike helmet is typically made of composite materials like fibreglass, or very hard plastics such as polycarbonate or ABS. The hard shell is designed to spread the force of an impact over a broader area

Ventilation: Vents are designed to keep you cool and comfortable while you’re riding. Road cycling helmets typically have a large amount of vents to enhance wind flow over your head and keep you cool. Having a large amount of vents also makes the helmet lighter.

Strap: Trail bike helmets usually have thicker straps for rough terrain, and road helmets have lighter and cooler straps. The strap should be comfortable, adjustable and easy to take on and off.

Weight: Higher end helmets are made out of lighter and more expensive materials. The lighter the helmet, the more comfortable it will feel when you are out riding.

Fit System: Some helmets will come in one size, compared to others that will come in S, M, L etc. All bike helmets will have an adjustable fit system to enable each size to fit a range of head sizes. That way you can adjust the fit of the helmet to your individual head size. Entry level helmets have a basic fit system with less range of adjustment. Higher end helmets will have an adjustable dial at the back of the helmet, which allows for a more precise fit. 

Finding the correct fit is essential! All helmets will have a size guide range that refers to your head circumference. If you are unsure of your size, be sure to take a simple measurement and refer to the size guide.

To discover the best way to get the correct fitting helmet, take a look at this video on bike helmet fitting. Although the soundtrack is a bit crazy, the video brilliant. 

https://youtu.be/QEeOqe8XPDU

 

When to Replace Your Helmet

Bike helmets are designed to absorb the impact when you hit your head. Therefore if you take a tumble and hit your head, your helmet will become damaged. Helmets are only good for one crash. You should replace your helmet after any significant impact, even if the helmet appears completely fine. 

If you’ve been crash-free, the general recommendation is to replace your helmet after five years use. This is because your helmet will weaken overtime, through exposure to sunlight and pollution. 

Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking Rules in New Zealand

Mountain biking rules in New Zealand

Know the mountain biking rules in New Zealand so you stay safe and have an epic time!

New Zealand’s mountain biking trails range from easy to epic, with special sights and scenery that take riding adventures to a whole new level. Knowing the Mountain Biking Rules in New Zealand means better fun and safety for you on your holiday!

The following MTB code was developed by the New Zealand MTB Association (NZ MBA) in liaison with key stakeholders and DOC. It’s aim is help everyone enjoy the incredible mountain biking opportunities that exist in New Zealand.  It’s a simple set of mountain biking rules in New Zealand that everyone should be able to keep-to, easily.

The Mountain Biking Rules in New Zealand

Always wear a helmet

It’s the law in New Zealand a helmet is required while riding a bike.  But a helmet also protects you and your brain in case of a collision.  It’s nice being alive right?

Respect others

Stay in control. So you can safely avoid others and keep yourself intact. We all love to go fast, but consider who/what might round the corner and be sure you could stop in time.

Give way to walkers

Use a bell or greeting when approaching others. Most negative feedback from walkers on shared-use tracks concerns being surprised by bikers approaching without warning. If you’re heading round a blind bend then simply give a quick blast to let people know you’re there.

Ride shared-use tracks in small groups. 

A ‘bike-train’ with a dozen riders displaces other users. 6-8, or less, is a better number and possibly less impactful on the environment too.

Respect the rules

Only ride MTB and shared-use tracks; stay off closed tracks – including those that are seasonally closed to protect the surface or minimise conflict with other users. Land managers are generally pretty reasonable so talk with them about issues or ideas you may have. If you’re in any doubt, then ask a local, contact the Department of Conservation (www.doc.org.nz) or your local bike shop.

Be prepared

Take food, water, tools, First Aid and warm clothes. Plan for the unexpected such as a change in the weather, an accident or getting lost and late. Conditions in New Zealand can change quickly, that’s why we’re known as having 4 seasons in one day. Be sure to have the right gear with you. If you’re worried, then head to leapbooking.com and use the chat function to ask any questions you might have.

Be sure to get a weather forecast for the area you are biking. Head over to www.metservice.com to get a good local, New Zealand based forecast.

Obtain permission from private landowners before you set out.

Leave gates as you find them either open or closed to keep stock where they are intended to be.

Respect the track.

Don’t skid, cut corners or make new lines. Skidding creates water channels and causes erosion. Use both brakes to slow down without skidding as you approach a corner. Cutting corners is cheating and damages fragile ecosystems. If there is one thing we get serious about in New Zealand, it’s protecting our eco-system. Why? Because it’s one of the youngest in the world and it’s really rather fragile.

Avoid riding in the mud and rain. 

Both bikes and walkers damage soft, wet tracks.

Clean your bike to prevent spreading weeds like gorse and didymo. this might seem petty, but it comes back to protecting our eco-system, as these plants can wreak havoc.

Take rubbish home.

Rubbish in the outdoors, like banana skins, old tubes and snack wrappers, detracts from everyone’s experience.

Respect public access easements.

Some mountain bike rides travel along public access easements through private land. All easements and tracks are well marked. Please do the following to ensure others can enjoy the same privileges:

Stay on the public easement track.

Leave gates as you find them.

Do not disturb stock – cycle slowly through livestock areas.

 

On the road

You won’t always be off-road so when you find yourself using the roads in New Zealand, please take care and follow these guides:

  • Follow the road rules – stop for red lights and at pedestrian crossings.
  • Ride predictably, in a straight line and signal your intentions clearly in advance.
  • Ride no more than two abreast and only where safe and appropriate.
  • Try not to slow the flow of traffic – where practical pull over to let vehicles pass.
  • Courtesy works – a wave and a smile to other road users will help foster a more positive attitude to cyclists.