You cannot drive long in New Zealand until you come across a building that is labeled an i-Site.
What is an i-Site?
An i-Site is a licensed tourist information center. They range from small centers to substantial buildings with large gift shops. Their website states that iSites “help to ensure international and domestic visitors are doing and spending more while they travel around New Zealand.”
Ownership of i-Sites
New Zealand Tourism is a government department that owns the i-Site brand and allows companies to operate under the i-Site brand. Not all tourist information centers are i-Sites. Each i-Site is individually owned and operated. Local governments run many, some are volunteer-based non-profits, and outside organizations run some.
i-Sites receive some funding from the national government. Additionally, some i-Sites also receive funding from local governments. i-Sites also make money on their gift shop and through the bookings that they arrange.
Locations of i-Sites
There are over 90 i-Sites that operate on the north and south island. Each year a few more i-Sites open and over ten operate in the same building as DOC visitor centers. Some are volunteer-run and have limited hours, but paid employees robustly staff others.
- Local knowledge on food, lodging, shopping, and activities.
- Transportation bookings
- Tour bookings
- Accommodation bookings
- Information pamphlets from the government and private companies
- Some have meeting boards
- Most offer free WiFi
- Weather and tramping conditions
- Many have gift shops
- 45% of international visitors use an i-Site
- On average $1 of i-Site funding produces $8.70 of GDP
- i-Sites account for $298.5 million of visitor spend per year. $109.3 million of the spend is estimated to have not been spent if i-Sites did not exist
- The economic effects of i-Sites equate to supporting 2,200 full-time job equivalents
What is your favorite New Zealand i-Site?