Tourism New Zealand has announced Australian star Megan Gale as its first ever ambassador to promote cycling to the Australian market.

The international model, designer and actress has signed on to promote tourism and The New Zealand Cycle Trail (NZCT).

A new social and digital campaign using images of Gale on the trails will deliver the message that the Great Rides are suitable for all ages, cycling tastes and levels.

Tourism New Zealand director of marketing Andrew Fraser said it’s exciting to welcome Gale as a new cycling ambassador as New Zealand makes a big play to target Australian cyclists.

“We know from past experience of working with celebrities that their influence through popular culture, particularly social media, is enormous.

“Megan’s influence and family connection to New Zealand will no doubt increase awareness and preference for New Zealand as a world-class cycling destination.”

Gale is one of Australia’s highly regarded talents with a career spanning over two decades. Her experience spans multiple business endeavors, including a swim and homewares designer and her latest role in award-winning action blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road.

In 2015 she cycled the Otago Central Rail Trail and The Timber Trail, accompanied by locals including Olympic gold medalist Sarah Ulmer, cross-country cycling Commonwealth Games silver medalist Sam Gaze and celebrity chef and writer Annabel Langbein.

“We are seeing many Australians travel to New Zealand specifically to enjoy our diverse trails and expect to see this number rise,” Fraser said.

“Holiday visitors that participate in cycling spend more and stay longer than average visitors – a core focus of our activity to drive value to the New Zealand tourism industry and wider economy.”

Gale said she is proud to be the ambassador for Tourism New Zealand.

“New Zealand is in my blood – my mother is part Maori so my connection to New Zealand has always been strong and the opportunity to promote New Zealand as a destination and its Great Rides is incredibly exciting.

“I love cycling for both fitness and relaxation so combining it with travel is the perfect mix. The best part is you can explore the country from an entirely different angle – it’s like riding through a postcard.”

The Government and local communities have been committed to developing the Great Rides, investing $80 million last year into developing The NZCT for both experienced and leisure cyclists.