When an earthquake of 6.3 magnitudes struck Christchurch on February 22nd, I was shocked, like the rest of the world. I was glued to the New Zealand Herald website and couldn’t believe the devastation I saw. My first thought was to my friends and their families in Christchurch and Lyttelton. Fortunately, none of them were hurt, they were shaken but all fine. As more pictures and video footage emerged, I saw a completely different Christchurch. I couldn’t recognise some of the busiest streets in the CBD anymore. The Cathedral lay in ruins. The Twittersphere was a-buzzing about missing people, and Facebook pages were created by Cantabrians offering those whose homes were destroyed a roof over their heads. A fine example of how social media can do a lot of good in such disastrous situations. And there I was, writing my blog about New Zealand but sitting in Germany, exactly on the other side of the world, thinking of what I could do to help. I have been running my blog since January 2011, and even though it is my first attempt at contributing to the already mature blogging scene, I could not see any other way of lending a hand, and that’s when I stumbled upon a social media campaign:
Blog4NZ is a worldwide blogging event to support New Zealand tourism in the wake of the Canterbury earthquake and took place between March 21-23, 2011. People ask themselves, how can I help? Well, this is how: travel to New Zealand. Blog4NZ harnessed the reach and ease of access to the web to unite travel bloggers worldwide and communicate one key message: New Zealand is a great place to travel and very much open for business. The four people organising this fantastic event are:
- Jim McIntosh from Holes in My Soles
- John Reese from the French Way Travel Blog
- Craig Martin from the Indie Travel Podcast
- Dan Roberts from Travel Generation
Thank you for making these 72 hours of kiwi content generation possible!
I signed up immediately. I had to ramp up my content production and build my pipeline, ready to publish videos, pictures, and articles representing the best New Zealand has to offer. Not easy when New Zealand is such a diverse country with so many great things to see and do, and especially not when you’re in the midst of moving to another continent (from Germany to Canada). But I managed to produce 10 posts that included some of my best experiences in New Zealand. And here is the content I specifically created for Blog4NZ:
- Waitangi Grounds: marae, waka, and history aplenty (with video)
- North Island adventures: snowboarding on Mt Ruapehu (with video)
- Dancing on ice in a sub-tropical jungle: Franz Josef Glacier (with video)
- Beautiful Taupo, full of surprises! (with video)
- New Zealand’s best coastal views (with video)
- Curio Bay: serenity, surfing and sea lion adventures (with video)
The event also gave me the chance to launch a section on my blog dedicated to content in German, something I had planned on doing in the near future. Germany is New Zealand’s biggest visitor market in Europe after the UK and sees German-speaking Switzerland and Austria as presenting significant opportunities for growth. Blog4NZ thus had me hurry up and produce four pieces of content for a German-speaking audience:
- German edition: Sternegucken am Mount John, Lake Tekapo (mit Video)
- German edition: Queenstown für kleine Geldbeutel
- German edition: Working holiday in Neuseeland: alle wichtigen Informationen auf einen Blick
- German edition: Northland’s beste Pinkelpausen
I also shared articles on New Zealand I had written previously that were pertinent to promoting New Zealand as a travel destination within the Blog4NZ event. There are only so many articles one can write and videos one can edit in 72 hours!
My personal experience of Blog4NZ has been an overwhelmingly positive and energised one. To see so many quality articles, professional photos and personal video content has not only inspired all the participants but surely many future travellers to New Zealand as well. I would like to thank everyone for their support with comments, re-tweets, follows and communication to support the efforts of the Blog4NZ campaign. It has been a pleasure to connect with everyone and to be part of Blog4NZ!