Dr John Guthrie MNZM - Head Judge

In 2018 John retired after 30 years in the Department of Marketing at the University of Otago where he specialized in business strategy, retailing and sports marketing. John became a Member of the NZ Order of Merit in 2018 for his services to sport and the community. He currently runs his own marketing consultancy company in Dunedin. John has been a judge on the Queenstown Awards six times – starting in 2009. Every year he is ‘blown away’ by the extraordinary range and quality of businesses in Queenstown.

Linzi Ebbage-Thomas

Linzi owns an Organisational Development Consultancy, DevelopNZ. Offering executive leadership coaching, workshop facilitation and consultancy for a number of local, national and global organisations. She is also an owner and Director of PURE NZ Ice Cream bringing joy to dining tables around New Zealand.

 She has a background in hospitality – having built and run a Lodge in Wānaka. Winning awards is part of her heritage from being a finalist for hosted accommodation in the NZ Tourism Awards through to gold medals for ice cream, sorbets, and gelatos.

 Linzi is an experienced governor – currently sitting on the Board of the Cancer Society for Otago & Southland and the New Zealand Board for So They Can.

Sonali Mendis

Sonali is a passionate educator with over 18 years of experience from Industry. Currently, Sonali holds the position of Programme Manager for Tourism & Travel at the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT)’s Queenstown Campus. She has a wealth of experience from the fields of human resources, administration, operations, event management and education. She is passionate about continuous learning and research and is an active contributor to SIT’s research outputs. Currently, Sonali is in the process of publishing her research on sustainable tourism and will apply her findings to assist tourism businesses in New Zealand to gain a competitive advantage.

Mat Woods

Mat is currently the Chief Executive at Destination Queenstown (DQ). Prior to joining DQ, Mat was head of sales & services at Cardrona Alpine Resort (CARL) and Treble Cone and was involved in the acquisition of Treble Cone, securing the rights to develop into the SOHO Basin. Mat moved from CARL to join the parent company RealNZ as GM of Experience Whakatipu to oversee the Queenstown operation of the TSS Earnslaw, Walter Peak, Jet Boating and Water Taxis. 

Mat has a strong background in governance, He is currently a Director at Sport Otago Regional Tourism NZ and Racers Edge in Wānaka. Recently he was on the board of Snow Sports NZ and the Chair of Lake Wānaka Tourism.

Before joining the tourism industry, Mat had extensive experience in outdoor adventure sports retail, he was the managing director of R&R Sport before selling to The Warehouse Group, merging R&R Sport with Torpedo 7.