Research just released has shown that while our nation’s largest city receives nearly a third of the country’s tourism spend, Kiwis aren’t taking full advantage of the city as a destination.

Despite nearly 40 percent of Kiwis having visited Auckland in the last year, only 13 percent of Kiwis would place Auckland in their top three New Zealand destinations, leaving it in eighth place, tailing behind tourist hotspots Northland and Coromandel, as well as the cities of Wellington and Nelson.

Research results suggest that Auckland is not seen as a leisure destination, with only 15 percent of New Zealanders having visited the city for a holiday or weekend break on their most recent trip, with most attributing their stays to visiting friends or family (35 percent), attending an event (30 percent), or passing through on the way to somewhere else (12 percent).

AVANI Hotels & Resorts, which commissioned the research, is encouraging Kiwis to think again, and experience the undiscovered side of Auckland. To celebrate the launch of its first New Zealand hotel, the AVANI Metropolis Auckland Residences, AVANI will be encouraging its guests to explore the city via #KEYSTOTHECITY.

Fronted by lifestyle expert, blogger, and Auckland local Makaia Carr, #KEYSTOTHECITY offers guests staying at the hotel insider knowledge on all of the city’s hottest places to visit and off-the-beaten track spots, connecting them directly with locals via Facebook Messenger in a world first. With over half of Kiwis finding Auckland difficult to get around, AVANI hopes to make things easier, with #KEYSTOTHECITY acting as a virtual guide – at guests’ fingertips 24 hours a day.

“At AVANI we believe guests should be able to live like a local,” said Kira Klein, general manager marketing at AVANI Hotels & Resorts. “Auckland is a great destination for a city break, offering everything from beaches to hiking, great shopping, and a world class food scene, so we’re excited to be helping our guests unlock these experiences, encouraging them to live like locals and discover all of the great things the city has to offer.”

Nearly a third of Kiwis visiting Auckland spend just one night in the city, which suggests visitors aren’t getting out and exploring everything the city has to offer. Despite its renowned West Coast surf beaches and crystal-clear waters on the East Coast, just 6 percent of Kiwis rate Auckland as having New Zealand’s best beaches, and despite the lush waterfalls and trails of the Waitakere Ranges, only 2 percent of Kiwis associate Auckland with nature. Even with Waiheke Island on the doorstep, Auckland’s wine culture is underappreciated, with only 3 percent citing Auckland’s wine as their first choice.

Perhaps it is unsurprising that Auckland is underrated when you consider that nature, outdoor activities, and beaches are New Zealanders’ top priority when selecting a holiday destination; not features which are automatically associated with a big city. #KEYSTOTHECITY wants to dispel this myth.