Tourism promotion reaches new heights as 'yellow-eyed penguin' out to entice Chinese tourists to Dunedin

New Zealand tourism promotion has reached a whole new level with a Dunedin woman donning a yellow-eyed penguin costume at the beachfront and launching a social media competition to entice Chinese tourists to her city.

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Teresa Chang from the Dunedin Shanghai Association is a woman on a mission. Source: Seven Sharp

Seven Sharp found Teresa Chan of the Dunedin Shanghai Association decked out as a penguin and hiring a surfboard, all to the amusement of a group of young Chinese people.

It turns out Chinese holidaymakers aren't huge fans of Dunedin even though nearly 317,000 of them came to New Zealand last year.

"I love Dunedin and it's a real pity that a lot of Chinese tourists come to New Zealand and go only to Queenstown, to Rotorua," Ms Chan said. 

So the part-time penguin is taking drastic measures to drum up interest, calling on others to don costumes too and represent Dunedin in a social media competition.

Ms Chan said Dunedin has many attractions that could interest Chinese tourists - amazing historic buildings, wildlife and one of the oldest universities in the Southern Hemisphere.

Given students' creativity and enthusiasm, and a lot of Chinese students being in Dunedin now with knowledge of Chinese social media, language and culture, she had the idea of using all that to promote Dunedin to Chinese tourists.

"The most important thing is to get the Chinese tourists to understand all the little things that we have in Dunedin and in New Zealand, all the little things that you can get on social media that you can't see just in a photo," Ms Chan explained. 

"So I think social media is wonderful for that. And I hope the students - Chinese, Kiwi students - or tourism businesses get together and put in entries for our Chinese social media competition."

Asked is the end goal a direct flight from Shanghai to Dunedin, Ms Chan said, "That would be great in the long run."