For the first time the Spring Seminar on Emergency Medicine was held in New Zealand when 125 delegates and their partners and children spent four days in Rotorua in September 2013.

New Zealand is a great option for Australian meetings as it’s easy to get to; no visas, language, driving license issues. Rotorua in particular was a wonderful location – it has everything!

Denby Collinge, Conference Magic

Emergency medicine traces its development as a specialty in the United Kingdom back to 1952 when the first consultant was appointed at Leeds General Infirmary. In 1967, the Casualty Surgeons Association was established and in 1970 the first emergency medicine residency programme in the world began at the University of Cincinnati in the United States. Emergency medicine involves the care of adult and paediatric patients with acute illnesses or injuries that require immediate medical attention. In Australia and New Zealand, specialist training in emergency medicine is overseen by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM). The Peripheral Hospitals Emergency Medicine Conference (PHEMC) is a non-profit organisation devoted to teaching and learning in emergency medicine. Since 2002, PHEMC has been producing and delivering innovative education in the form of two annual conferences including the Spring Seminar. PHEMC collaborates with ACEM, the Australian Society of Career Medical Officers (ASCMO), and Australian Society of Emergency Medicine (ASEM) to ensure that its conferences are at the forefront of scientific education and also relevant and accessible to all emergency medicine practitioners.

For the first time last year the Spring Seminar was held in New Zealand. PHEMC’s first conference was held in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales in 2002. Now an annual conference, the Spring Seminar is aimed at providing state-of-the-art information to all emergency clinicians, primarily for those outside the main city centres. It also aims to provide stunning locations, which have previously included Port Douglas, Launceston, Broome, Byron Bay and Alice Springs. In Rotorua the conference was held in late September, 2013 at the Millennium Hotel, which can hold 350 theatre-style or 400 reception-style. Together with professional conference organiser Conference Magic, PHEMC – through a local committee - hosted 125 delegates and almost as many partners and children. More than half of the delegates (52 per cent) travelled from Australia to the destination after conference organiser Denby Collinge was hosted in Rotorua by Tourism New Zealand and the Rotorua Convention Bureau, where the city’s conference capabilities were highlighted.

A welcome reception at Skyline Rotorua offered visitors spectacular views of the lake and city with Mt Tarawera in the background, and kicked off the conference. The venue can host 500 people and is also home to Rotorua’s famous luge and gondola. Meanwhile it was the Blue Baths which played host to the conference gala dinner. The Spanish Mission-style Blues Baths, set in the city’s Government Gardens, once operated as a public bath house from 1933 until 1982. In 1999, after 17 years of abandonment, the baths were restored to their former glory allowing glamour and style to reign there once more.

Optional activities outside the conference room included mountain biking with Planet Bike, and a visit to Te Puia. Situated in the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, Te Puia’s 60 hectare site is home to the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, a live kiwi enclosure, the world-famous Pohutu Geyser, and more than 500 geothermal pools. Delegates lost themselves in Amaze Me, a 1.4km hedge maze and small animal enclosure. At the Agrodome there were unique farm tours and animal shows to be enjoyed while adrenalin junkies had a go at Agroventures for some freefall Xtreme, jet boating, bungy jumping and other adventure activities. Wildlife including kiwi, fish and birds were on show at Rainbow Springs while Off Road NZ offered all sorts of driving expeditions, from go-karting and 4WD experiences to monster thrill rides. Delegates also took advantage of vouchers for the Polynesian Spa and Rotorua Museum.

Ms Collinge said the conference was a great success. “New Zealand is a great option for Australian meetings as it’s easy to get to; no visas, language, driving license issues. Rotorua in particular was a wonderful location – it has everything! Spectacular scenery (that New Zealand is renowned for), adventure activities abound, great food and wine, history and Maori culture in a compact easy to experience bundle. Wafts of sulphur quickly disappear from the minds and noses of everyone. The local service providers are friendly, professional and completely passionate about their products going above and beyond the usual.”