Understanding visitors' experiences in Kaikoura using photographs of landscapes and Q method

Fairweather, John R.
Swaffield, Simon R.
Simmons, David G.
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::140201 Agricultural Economics
The primary objective of this study was to develop an understanding of visitors' experiences of the Kaikoura landscape using photographs of landscape and Q method. The literature on landscape perception shows that there is a range of paradigms extending from the expert to the experiential, and that there is a need to focus on the latter. Therefore, this study examines: the way individuals represent their subjective experience of landscape through the selection of a particular array of photographs; verbal explanations of their choice; and the social and cultural significance of those representations. The results concur with other research on landscape perception showing that 'naturalness' is an important component of preferred experiences. However, they also show that this preference is expressed in different ways, largely reflecting the cultural context of the visitor. The particularity of the responses highlights the need for locally grounded contextual understanding in order to interpret variations around and within generic themes. The results also show that Q method has significant potential for landscape research, especially for research that seeks to combine the experiential and socio-cultural paradigms.