Economic impacts of The WILD on the Queenstown Lakes economy

This report has been prepared for The Wild For Nature Charitable Trust by Benje Patterson. Its purpose is to estimate the economic impacts on the Queenstown Lakes economy from spending by trail runners who attended the WILD’s inaugural 2023 pioneers’ edition.

The WILD is a multi-day trail and mountain running celebration, which includes a variety of events centred on New Zealand’s trail running mecca, Arrowtown. Events range from the 9km Beast of Beetham to the 85km V5000.

The full report can be downloaded here.

At its heart, this report helps answer the following questions:

  • How many people visited Arrowtown and the rest of Queenstown Lakes because of The WILD?
  • How long did participants stay and what did they spend in the Queenstown Lakes economy while attending The WILD?
  • What legacy effects will the event leave that boost Arrowtown’s reputation and could lead to repeat visitation?

Key findings

On average each visiting athlete brought with them about one supporter on their visit to Queenstown Lakes . In total there were approximately 460 supporters who accompanied visiting athletes participating in The WILD.

  • Visitors for The WILD stayed an average of 3.4 nights and spent $316 per day. In comparison, the average visitor to Queenstown Lakes is estimated to stay 2.7 nights and spend $279 per day.
  • Around 85% of WILD visitors stayed in paid accommodation.
  • Two thirds of participants (66%) stayed in Arrowtown, with the remainder staying elsewhere in the district.

It is estimated that total expenditure across all visiting WILD participants and their supporters during their time in Queenstown Lakes was $1.0 million.

  • The participants’ survey showed that 90% of visiting WILD participants intend to return to Arrowtown again in the next few years, while 98% will recommend to friends and family to visit.
  • When asked whether The WILD influenced their perception that Arrowtown is an adventure destination, 63% of visitors agreed that the event had influenced that perception, with a further 35% saying they already loved Arrowtown and nothing had changed.

About the economist and ultra runner behind the report

This report’s author, Benje Patterson, is an Arrowtown-based economist and Chair of the Arrowtown Promotion and Business Association. Benje has over a decade of experience analysing economic activity within regions and within the past couple of years has been involved in more than a dozen projects related to tourism, sport and recreation. These have included projects quantifying the economics of skiing in Queenstown-Lakes, as well as biking in Queenstown-Lakes and Rotorua. Outside of his professional work in the economics of sport and recreation, Benje is one of New Zealand’s top ultra runners and competed in The WILD (2nd male in the V5000).

The full report can be downloaded here. Please get in touch if you are interested about understanding the economic impacts of an event in your area, or the potential economic opportunities from tapping into trail development for biking, running, and walking.