AIR New Zealand is talking to several UK-based operators with a view to developing a special tour that will follow in the path of the Olympic torch on its journey to Sydney, site of the Olympics 2000 games.



For the first time in its history, the Olympic Flame will travel from Athens on a route throughout Australasia. The 10,625-miles relay will take in 14 Pacific Islands including the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Samoa before continuing on to New Zealand where it will stop at Queenstown, Christchurch, Wellington and Rotorua, reaching Auckland on June 8 2000.



The torch will set off from Ayers Rock on a 100-day tour to its destination, the Homebush Olympic Stadium, Sydney. Although the ANZ tour is still in development, a spokeswoman for the airline confirmed there will definitely be packages on offer in the UK by the end of the summer.



“These will be elite packages because we will probably use one aircraft but they will not be too expensive. It is likely to cost a few thousand pounds,” she said.



The tour will be based on flights from London to Auckland from where it will continue to the South Pacific. It is likely to last up to six days. Around 300 places will be available to be sold through a select group of specialist agents.



The move is part of ANZ’s strategy of events marketing, to capitalise on several major attractions in the coming months including the America’s Cup and the rugby union World Cup.