Thermal Explorer Highway Regional Events Fund

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  2. Thermal Explorer Highway Regional Events Fund
Event funding support and capability building in the Thermal Explorer region.

The Thermal Explorer Regional Events Fund includes the Waikato, Rotorua, Taupō and Ruapehu regions and is managed collectively through the Event Investment Panel (eight representatives from the four regions).

A total of 50 events being staged across the Waikato, Rotorua, Taupō and Ruapehu regions have been offered funding.

  • Waikato – 19 events
  • Rotorua – 17 events
  • Taupō – 10 events
  • Ruapehu – 3 events
  • Multiple regions – 1 event

Events receiving funding support are a mixture of new and existing covering diverse interest areas such as business, sport, fitness, trail running, cars, music, and culture.

In total, the events are predicted to attract approximately 370,000 people, with two-thirds being visitors from outside each host region. Some events have three-year funding agreements while others received one-year investment to boost their development.

The Panel are also focussing on developing events sector capability across the Thermal Explorer regions with a series of roadshow events held in 2023 and being planned for 2024. For more information please review the below important links and timeline.

Upcoming Activity

September / October 2024

Thermal Explorer REF Roadshow events:

Join the Thermal Explorer REF team at the September / October 2024 Roadshow.

  • Details: Workshops will be held in Waikato, Rotorua, Taupō and Ruapehu with a focus on capability building initiatives. Registration details will be updated here as dates and venues are finalised.

Industry Updates


New Zealand Event Awards – 2024 entries now open!
Since 2014, the NZEA NZ Event Awards has celebrated the best and brightest in New Zealand’s world-class events sector. Consistently growing in scale and recognition, these awards recognise excellence, innovation, and leadership across the full breadth of the sector including event producers, sponsors, suppliers, and individuals.

  • Entries open from 8 April to 5 May 2024 for events that took place between 11 April 2023 & 7 April 2024
  • For more information click HERE

Eventing the Future Conference – 27 & 28 August 2024
The Eventing the Future 2024 conference is heading to Palmerston North! This vibrant city plays host to a number of big events, with its huge arena, bespoke conference centre, the New Zealand Rugby Museum and other smaller venues. In 2024, NZEA will be combining the conference with the NZEA New Zealand Event Awards (Awards Gala Dinner will take place on 27 August 2024), allowing guests to come together across two days to network, learn and be inspired.

  • There are various ticket options to suit your areas of interest, or budget.
  • For more information click HERE

EVANZ Manaaki Mentoring Programme
The EVANZ Manaaki Mentoring Programme aims to provide a supportive professional development connection between association members at different stages in their career. A mentor may share with a mentee information about his or her own career path, as well as provide guidance, motivation, emotional support, and role modelling. A mentor may help with exploring career development, setting goals, developing contacts, and identifying resources.

  • Applications for mentees opened 1 April 2024 and will close Friday 10 May 2024, with three places available in Year 2.
  • For more information click HERE

For more information

Lead Entity for the Thermal Explorer Highway Regional Events Fund (REF):
Hamilton & Waikato Tourism

If you would like to register to receive updates and information about the Thermal Explorer Highway REF, please subscribe here


The Thermal Explorer Regional Events Fund is part of the $50 million Regional Events Fund announced by the New Zealand Government in September 2020 as a result of COVID-19. The purpose of the fund is to stimulate domestic tourism and travel between regions through hosting of events, which is intended to replace expenditure from international tourists. Please visit for further information.

The purpose for the Thermal Explorer Regional Events Fund is a contestable fund that will be utilised to focus on developing, securing or enhancing new and existing events to become long term sustainable “iconic” or “anchor” events for the regions; and to support capability development of the event ecosystem in the four regions of the Thermal Explorer area.