New Zealand wins with 'The Biggest Loser' visit
13 Apr 2011
New Zealand is shaping up to be the big winner from exposure to a massive audience after top rating American TV show The Biggest Loser chose to shoot their latest episodes in the country.
The picturesque South Island tourist resort of Queenstown and Auckland’s city of sails were the destinations selected for contestants to try out the legendary outdoor pursuits that give New Zealand its reputation for fun and healthy living.
Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand hosted the crew of the hugely popular NBC show in February, and both Kiwi-based episodes air in the US this month.
Nearly 10 million viewers will watch The Biggest Loser contestants leap off the tallest building in the southern hemisphere and swing hundreds of feet above a famous alpine river, but there will also be a very down-to-earth message in the programmes - the softer side that illustrates the life-changing aspect of the New Zealand tourism experience.
Once in a lifetime trip
NBC says the show’s remaining nine contestants were flown to Auckland by Air New Zealand for a "once-in-a-lifetime trip that captured the thrilling adventures and incredible beauty of New Zealand".
The audience experiences the adventure through the eyes of contestants who accomplish physical feats they had never dreamt they could do before going on the show.
Viewers are also exposed to the soft adventure aspects of the country and witness the emotional impact the New Zealand experience has on the contestants.
Soon after arriving in Auckland the contestants meet their first major challenge - running up 51 flights of stairs in the 192m / 1076ft high Sky Tower - the southern hemisphere’s tallest building.
They were then challenged with opting for the quickest way back down by jumping off the tower in a controlled ‘base-jump’ where they reached speeds of 83km/h / 52mph in an 11-second fall - a popular adrenalin-filled activity undertaken by thousands of tourists every year.
Auckland beach run
The sky jump proved to be overwhelming for some contestants but further challenges awaited. Auckland is surrounded by water and stunning beaches and The Biggest Loser contestants became familiar with the local terrain as they completed a 5K challenge New Zealand-style.
They had to race through water, up huge sand dunes and across the beach in a bid to win a helicopter ride to Waiheke Island - a wine-famous, lifestyle-rich island of the Hauraki Gulf, just a short ride from Auckland city.
Contestants were also put through their paces on the water when they chartered an America’s Cup racing yacht with SailNZ on Auckland Harbour. New Zealand has the highest boat ownership per capita in the world, and Auckland is known as the ‘City of Sails’.
At the end of their Auckland visit contestants had a weigh-in to reveal who had struggled to lose weight, and who hadn’t, while travelling and adjusting to life in a different country.
New Zealand has a strong culinary culture and is renowned for healthy, organically-grown produce, abundant seafood, quality meats and locally produced gourmet foods. While on location the contestants were never far from fine restaurants, popular bistros and cafés serving legendary Kiwi-style coffee.
In the second New Zealand episode, the remaining eight contestants on The Biggest Loser head to Queenstown, known as the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ and famed for its scenic glaciers, majestic mountains and crystal clear waters.
While the resort is big on soft adventure and attracts year-round visitors for fun, family holidays, golfing, cycling, hiking, skiing and snowboarding, wine and food-focused experiences and luxury breaks - it has also built a world-wide reputation for extreme sports and contestants were put to the test on the most thrilling tourist activities.
Some contestants experienced bungy jumping at Kawarau Bridge - site of the world’s first commercial bungy operation - which, with a 43m / 141ft drop into the dramatic Kawarau Gorge, remains one of New Zealand’s most popular bungy destinations.
Canyon swinging time
Other contestants experienced Queenstown’s Canyon Swing - where riders sit in a harness that leaves their arms and legs hanging free as they fly through the air at speeds of up to 150km/h / 93mph, swinging 110m / 360ft above the Shotover River.
River boarding provided another challenge, with the winning contestant getting the coveted prize of immunity plus a helicopter ride to spectacular Milford Sound, called the eighth wonder of the world by Rudyard Kipling.
One team of contestants tackled rock climbing - another hard adventure but also one with an alternative, softer option that caters for people of all fitness levels.
And in a Kiwi-style ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ elimination, another contestant was sent home after a weigh in at the end of their Queenstown experience.
The Biggest Loser producers say all contestants left New Zealand having overcome fears, accomplished personal and physical challenges and experienced thrilling once-in-a-lifetime activities.
Lose yourself in New Zealand
As a result of the show’s visit to New Zealand, Americans have been offered the chance "to lose themselves in New Zealand" with a special travel offer.
They can experience the best of New Zealand’s scenery, fun activities and unique culture, just like members of The Biggest Loser, with a deal that includes a round-trip airfare with Air New Zealand and 10 nights’ accommodation in Auckland and Queenstown.
Travellers can also book the same adventure and leisure activities as the contestants including jet boating, hiking, sailing - softer adventures as well as the adrenalin-charged experiences that will have viewers on the edge of their seats during the New Zealand episodes.
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