by Sarah J.F. Braley | October 08, 2015
Peter Jackson's Hobbit films -- filled with rolling green hills and untouched vistas -- brought New Zealand into the world spotlight. Now, a flurry of construction projects under way are poised to attract the attention of meeting and event planners. 

Christchurch Updates

A new convention center is being built in this city of nearly 400,000 residents, to open in 2017. The facility -- which initially will host events for up to 1,500 and soon grow to fit 2,000 -- will be part of a district on the banks of the Te Papa Otakaro/Avon River. Also planned for the area are hotels, riverside dining and retail space.

One related project: InterContinental Hotels Group is developing the 200-room Crowne Plaza Christchurch across from the new center, a conversion of an existing commercial building that will offer meeting space of its own. An opening date is yet to be announced.

Debuting in April is the Breakfree on Cashel Christchurch, with 263 guest rooms. To be managed by the Mantra Group, the property will feature a contemporary restaurant and bar, a breakfast room, a conference room for up to 80 people and two boardrooms seating 20 each. The hotel, formerly the All Seasons and the largest property on South Island, closed after the devastating earthquakes of 2011.

Newly opened is the 44-suite Ramada Christchurch.  

Auckland News

This city at the top of North Island likely is getting its own convention facility. The New Zealand International Convention Centre received support this past December from Tourism New Zealand, but a solid timeline for the project, which would accommodate groups of up to 3,500 and include a new 300-room hotel, has yet to be set. Meanwhile, the city's existing SkyCity Auckland Convention Centre can host groups of up to 1,700 and is part of a complex that includes the 316-room SkyCity Grand Hotel and the 323-room Sky­City Hotel.

Air Service

In December 2014, Air New Zealand moved its North American operations to the refurbished Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. The carrier operates twice-daily flights between Auckland and Los Angeles, as well as daily service between Auckland and London.