8 Sep 2011
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With just days to go to the first match of Rugby World Cup 2011, the REAL New Zealand Festival has hit the magic number - more than 1000 events and experiences stretching the length and breadth of the country and all showing aspects of New Zealand life.
REAL New Zealand Festival Director Briony Ellis says she is absolutely delighted at how the Festival has come together, saying the number of events has now topped 1100 and Kiwis have "risen to the challenge. This is our Festival. It celebrates who we are as New Zealanders," she says.
"If it's quintessentially Kiwi, then chances are you'll find it in there - from food and wine to theatre; Rugby events to art exhibitions; sport and recreation; business innovation, sheep shearing, Maori culture and music. "
Briony says almost every community in New Zealand is involved and the Festival enhances people's Rugby World Cup 2011 experience offering events and opportunities to "follow the Rugby the long way around.
"So if you're following Australia, you have the last pool play match in Nelson on October 1 and then we expect you would be heading to Wellington for the Quarter Finals, but you have a week in between games - plenty of time to head to the West Coast for the Whitebait Festival or to Blenheim for Marlborough Wine and Cuisine at Brancott Vineyard."
Briony says experience planners on the REAL New Zealand Festival website provide easy ways for anyone to put together personalised itineraries based either on where and when they are travelling, or on the team they are following.
"We want people to stay longer, go further and see and experience more of the real New Zealand."
Briony has been delighted with some of the creative ideas which event organisers have come up with. "I love Rugby, Haka and Hangi in five locations on the East Coast - it's a chance for anyone to come along, play a game of rugby with the locals, learn the haka and enjoy a hangi."
She adds that the REAL New Zealand Festival is for New Zealanders as well. "We know of at least three groups - and there will be more - who have converted a bus and are hitting the road to travel between matches and will be taking in plenty of Festival events along the way."
New Zealand 2011 Office Director Leon Grice says among the REAL New Zealand Festival are more than 250 REAL New Zealand Showcase events which are open to the public. "This represents the largest expo of business innovation and capability in our country's history. Together with Festival events, the full programme presents the complete picture of life in New Zealand."
The REAL New Zealand Festival is run by the New Zealand 2011 Office (NZ 2011) as one of three key programmes which have focused on getting New Zealand and New Zealanders behind RWC 2011 to show international visitors a great time while showcasing New Zealand's uniqueness.
For more information on the REAL New Zealand Festival, visit www.realnzfestival.com