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Cheaper domestic air travel boost for Hanmer Springs

Earlier this year three of the region’s tourist attractions - Aoraki Mt Cook, coastal Kaikoura, and Hanmer Springs - were named in the top 10 list of the AA’s 101 Must Do’s for Kiwis.

Lower fares on domestic airline routes provide an opportunity for Christchurch and Hanmer Springs to capitalise on its growing reputation as a short-break destination for Kiwis, local tourism leaders say.

They are excited by the opportunities offered by this week’s announcement that Pacific Blue budget airline founded by Sir Richard Branson is taking on Air New Zealand and Qantas with a new domestic air service and cheaper fares.

“As airfares drop people will be more inclined to just jump on a plane and head away for the weekend. If you’re living in Auckland or Wellington then what better place to escape to for a few days than Christchurch,’’ says the new chief executive of Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism, Christine Prince.

“You can finish work on Friday, hop on a plane, and within just a couple of hours be dining on some the region’s best food at one of the restaurants along Oxford Terrace Strip or enjoying a glass of wine at one of the cool new bars in the Lichfield Lanes.”

“With petrol prices still rising it might be cheaper and more pleasurable to fly to Christchurch for a couple of days than to spend hours driving along congested motorways to get to your holiday destination,’’ Christine Prince says.

Once here visitors are spoiled for choice. The city’s vibrant café and bar scene, art galleries, museums and boutique shops will delight those seeking an urban edge, while within an hour of Christchurch you can find some of the best wineries in the country as well as great alpine and coastal resorts. Canterbury has 14 ski fields, all within easy distance of the airport.

“Cheaper domestic airfares will give people a chance to enjoy what’s on their doorstep,’’ Christine Prince says. “They don’t have to travel abroad to enjoy world-class visitor attractions.’’

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