Lakes Business July 2023

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LAKES BUSINESS MONTHLY Issue 31 – July 2023 No business like snow business

Winter 2023 - the buzz is back

While summer might now pull in more visitors, Queenstown Lakes will always be an iconic winter destination.

e ski elds and all things snow remain a huge economic driver for the district, and 2023 is expected to be the season winter tourism nally returns to its regular rhythm following the pandemic.

For the July edition of Lakes Business, we’ve spoken to ski eld managers, tour operators, retailers, business owners, entrepreneurs and other local stars to see what’s new and what they expect from the season.

Sue Fea’s written about what’s anticipated to be a record breaking in ux of Aussie tourists, with ski bookings booming from across the ditch, bolstered by the events sector, with sold-out Snow Machine festival, Winter Pride and Winter Games NZ all bringing thousands into town.

Paul Taylor has spoken to NZSki’s Paul Anderson and RealNZ’s Laura Hedley about their plans for Coronet Peak, e Remarkables, and Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone respectively, and caught up with former Cardrona boss Bridget Legnavsky, who now runs Sugar Bowl Resort in the US. Sue’s also had a chat with Snow Farm boss Sam Lee, while Jess Allen has interviewed Cardona Valley businesses about what makes the village so special in winter.

And if you ick through the pages, you’ll also nd interviews with Outside Sports founders Judy and John Knight, business consultant and podcast host Jane Guy, the team at Ginger Bear brewer Crimson Badger, survival specialist Logan Lore, and many more. Happy reading!

Bookings boom for Queenstown

Leading Australian ski package wholesalers say Queenstown Lakes is in for a “record breaker” ski season with the in ux of Aussies this winter, with one reporting double the bookings compared with 2019.

Yield is up signi cantly too with customers spending almost 40 percent more on their ski holiday than in 2019.

Mountain Watch Travel Managing Director Quentin Nolan estimates at least 30,000 to 40,000 Aussies are heading to Queenstown this winter on ski holidays, up 15 to 20 percent compared with 2019.

Sno’n’Ski Holidays Managing Director Dan Walker says his company alone is bringing well over $A5million into Queenstown with about 3500 guests booked.

Both say they would be bringing more if there was accommodation available. “We’re limited by accommodation,” Nolan says.

It’s incredibly hard to nd accommodation for combo holiday packages during the week of his company’s destination Snow Machine Festival in September. e festival will see two stages set up on Coronet Peak and e Remarkables with another downtown. “It’s the biggest snow event in New Zealand right now.” Nolan is also discussing with QLDC the possibility of another downtown stage to hold some free community events.

Walker says Sno’n’Ski Holidays has seen “a NZ sales boom” for 2023.

“More importantly they’re spending more money” Walker says. While Australian

July 2023 | Issue 31 LAKES BUSINESS
Snow Machine Aussies hit The Remarks last year

passenger numbers are down 13 percent on 2019, customers are spending 37 percent more, with the average spend around $1600 covering a seven-night Queenstown skiing holiday.

“We’re really hoping Air New Zealand reinstates the Brisbane-Queenstown direct services,” he says. “A daily service would add another 170 seats a day.” ere’s been strong demand for Virgin Australia and Qantas on the Brisbane - Queenstown direct services.

Despite increased airfares which are up about 30 percent compared with pre-Covid, we’re still seen as great value with Canada costing $AUD4000 just in airfares. “Even at $A900, we’re telling people if they see that price to book it.” e exchange rate is still favourable for Aussies too.

Australians remain the largest single market for the NZ tourism industry as a whole. ey spent $1 billion in the rst quarter of 2023, followed by USA visitors ($518m) and UK visitors ($383m).

Destination Queenstown CEO Mat Woods:

“We’re very excited about the busy winter season ahead. e Australian school holidays started on June 24 and NZ holidays a week later. It’s no surprise to see the strong demand o the back of an incredible winter last year. At this stage, our forward outlook indicates visitation is spread more evenly over July and August than previous years and September is also looking strong with a good range of events and activity. It’s great to hear the local mountains are fully sta ed for the season. e connectivity from East Coast Australia directly into Queenstown makes it extremely convenient for Aussies to visit Queenstown and experience an exceptional winter holiday.”

According to the latest estimates, around 300,000 Aussies are expected to y into New Zealand this winter. at’s 90 percent of pre-Covid levels (345,000 in 2019). While customers are being advised to pre-book activities and restaurants before they travel, Walker says they’re more concerned about potential tra c problems now that NZSki has discontinued its hotel pickups. “ is has resulted in a huge spike in car hire bookings,” he says. “We’re concerned about the tra c in Queenstown, as part of the overall guest experience. However, local suppliers made it work last year with very positive feedback overall, so I’m sure they’ll do it again.”

New Zealand attracts the 3-4 star market, choosing to save money and stay ‘local’ again this year. “Queenstown’s tting the budget,” he says. e numbers heading to Japan this winter are also “mind blowing.”


• Queenstown Lakes residents account for one of every ve skier days.

• Most visitors during the ski season are domestic, mostly from Auckland and Wellington.

• Australian visitors primarily come from the East Coast: New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

• Two-thirds of Australian skiers and snowboarders are beginner level.

• Most stay in serviced apartments and short-term holiday rentals.

• Visitors stay on 5.7 nights on average and 63% plan to return within 12 months.

• e four ski areas - e Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone - have a combined estimated daily capacity of 17,000 skiers.

*Source: Queenstown Visitor Experience Survey April 2022 – March 2023

New Zealand’s gain is a loss for Australia with operators experiencing a signi cant decrease in domestic visitors to the Australian ski elds

“A day skiing at Perisher costs $220 whereas, while Earlybird deals at NZSki, Cardrona and Treble Cone got the daily cost down to $99,” says Nolan.

Accommodation is the big sticking point for Queenstown, they say. “ e July (Australian and NZ) school holidays have been mostly booked for about three months and August is also getting di cult,” he says.

Novotel Queenstown Lakeside general manager Jim Moore says he’s expecting to be “close to full” for peak dates. “I don’t believe we’re full on any dates yet, but we expect to be. Late June, July and into August we expect to be extremely busy.” Bookings so far are “very solid”, up ve to ten percent on last year.

Rees Hotel CEO Mark Rose says school holidays are on the full side, but not completely, and will be “incredibly busy”. “It’s no busier than 2019, but de nitely a higher yield.”

e Australian market is the hotels largest market in all but one month this year.

NZSki CEO Paul Anderson says bookings are well up and people should get in super early if they want a car park during the school holiday periods and on fresh powder, bluebird days. Anderson is urging guests to be prepared and book rentals in advance with such a busy season ahead.

An online booking system has been introduced for NZSki buses rather than a rst in, rst served basis. “We had some reasonably sizeable queues last year.”


Planning for the future, managing the present

Anderson says it will reduce that by more than 1000t per annum by partnering with Meridian Energy, which supplies 100% renewable electricity.

It also plans to o set 400t by purchasing carbon credits from Carbonz, which come from native vegetation blocks in the Otago Region. NZSki has been planting trees for a number of years on and around the mountains. ey will eventually begin to sequester carbon, taking over from the credits.

NZSki’s main source of emissions is diesel fuel. It plans to reduce this by investing in its transport eet, teaching and tracking fuel e cient driving techniques, encouraging bus use and carpooling, and using SnowSAT technology to measure snow depth on the main trails and target snowmaking only where it is needed, and trialling hybrid groomers. It will also recycle all waste oils from hospitality and maintenance operation and reduce waste to land ll through aerobic digestion of food waste and reusable tableware.

“It’s a bunch on individual initiatives that all add up. We’ve invested in dishwashing capacity over the last couple of years, for example, which allows us to remove the consumables [plastic kitchen ware. etc.]”

Remarks & Coronet Peak

Change remains the one constant for NZSki as the Queenstown ski elds operator swings into Winter 2023.

As Lakes Business went to press, the company was waiting to hear whether it had been successful in its bid to replace the Shadow Basin chairli at e Remarkables next summer.

It wants a 40-year concession from the Department of Conservation to operate in the conservation area. A decision on the $15 million project was expected by the end of June.

Beyond Shadow Basin, there’s the long-term plan to extend into the next valley, e Doolans, potentially via a 230-metre tunnel, doubling the size of the ski area.

In recent years, it has replaced the Sugar Bowl chairli at e Remarks (2020, costing $17m+) and the Coronet Peak Express (2019, costing $20m) across the basin at Coronet Peak, while Curvey Basin chairli and e Remarks base building are less than 10 years old.


Elevation: 1943m, 468m vertical drop

Skiable Area: 385 hectares

By contrast, 2023 could be considered something of a fallow year. But there are still dozens of minor and not-so-minor adjustments to operations, says chief executive Paul Anderson.

at includes the landmark decision to reduce its emissions by 50 percent this year, as Queenstown Lakes pushes towards its 2030 Carbon Zero target.

“We’re really excited and proud to be able to come out with this pretty bold move this year,” Anderson says.

“I’ve always said to our crew we want to be doing really good tangible initiatives that improve e ciency and lower emissions, so things like our investment in snowmaking, the latest grooming technology and our public transport buses.

“With Destination Queenstown coming out with their ambition . . . we attended a workshop and recognised we’re well placed to take a leadership position on this.”

NZSki has been measuring its greenhouse gas emissions for the past two years. It produces 3000 tonnes of GHG emissions each year.

Anderson says the plan has had an “amazing level of buy in from sta , who are really motivated by it”. Destination Queenstown chief executive Mat Woods, a keen skier and one of the driving forces behind Carbon Zero 2030, is also delighted.

“To see a commitment like this in year one, from one of our big players, that’s just huge,” Woods says. “Sometimes it can be harder for a big company to make the move, so hopefully this will encourage other businesses to begin the process.

“2030 is still some ways down the track, so even taking small steps, such as getting rid of single-use cups for example, will start the ball rolling.”

Other projects this year include further major investment in snow making, including more guns at the bottom of Coronet Peak and upgrading the equipment elsewhere.

“Over the years, the technology has got better, so it means we can make more snow in marginal conditions,” Anderson says.

Coronet Peak, which gets about two metres of snowfall


Elevation: 1649m, 462m vertical drop

Skiable Area: 280 hectares

Li s: 2 high-speed six-seater chair, 2 quad chairs, 4 surface conveyor li s including a double-covered conveyor

Terrain: 30% beginner, 40% intermediate, 30% advanced

Operating Hours: Daily from 9am - 4pm

Li s: 2 high-speed six-seater chairs (one with Gondola cabins), 1 highspeed quad chair, 1 T-bar, 4 surface conveyor li s

Terrain: approx. 14% learners, 33% intermediate, 25% advanced, 27% Expert

Operating Hours: Open daily 9am to 4pm. Night Ski on Wednesday & Friday 21 June – 1 September and the three school holiday Saturdays in July.

Daily First Tracks 8 - 9am 3 July – 17 Sept

July 2023 | Issue 31 LAKES BUSINESS
NZSki CEO Paul Anderson

each year, now has 211 xed guns and seven portable, while e Remarks, which gets 3.7m, has 148 guns. ere have also been various trial improvements up the mountains and changes to the bus system.

Gridlock peak tra c along Frankton Road means a change to buses to e Remarkables. ey’ll be bookable from the CBD from 7.30am-9.30am, but then only operate from the Frankton interchange. e buses will then take everyone back into town at the end of the day.

“ ey were getting stuck in the tra c, reducing the number of people we could take up the mountain.”

NZSki has also faced some criticism for dropping the season bus pass, which appears to run counter to its plan to encourage more bus use. is year, all season pass holders will get a 10% discount on the $25 daily bus fare instead.

“When we reviewed the usage of the transport season pass last year, on average, people weren’t getting value for money. We had a few people using it a lot, but a lot not using it much at all. We thought it was fairer to apply the discount across every ride day that people took.”

NZSki has also added another two buses to its eet this year, bringing the total to 33 including mini-buses, and has another two-four-wheel drive buses on order for next year.

“We de nitely continue to ensure that the capacity is there for people to make the choice to take public transport up the mountains.”

e ski elds have a full complement of around 1000 sta this year.

“Last year, we went into the season still looking for quite a few sta . is year, the workforce is available, Immigration New Zealand has sorted out its processes and we’ve seen a return of working holidaymakers, but the challenge has been housing in Queenstown.”

Anderson says he’s heard anecdotally of a number of ski instructors who’ve gone elsewhere a er not being able to secure accommodation.

e company has bought Sir Cedrics Tahuna Pod Hostel, on Henry Street downtown, and has converted it to sta accommodation, providing 72 beds, with another 24 to come. It also has seven other houses on Gorge Road and Fryer Street.

“It’s a legitimate cost of doing business in Queenstown now,” he says. “Over the next couple of years, we’d like to get to the level where we housing about 250 of our sta . About 500 are long-term locals anyway.”

Some of the seasonal sta from e Remarks 2022 are featured on season four of Bravo reality show Snow Crew, which began screening last month.

“It’s a behind the scenes on what it takes to operate a ski eld,” he says. “We had a reasonably good look at it [before it aired]. ere were certainly some interesting things but I think it’s great to see the personalities of the awesome people who work for us coming through.”

Cardrona & Treble Cone

RealNZ-run Cardona Alpine Resort is also working behind the scenes on its next big chairli project.

e ski eld, over the Crown Range about halfway between Queenstown and Wānaka, in May submitted fresh plans for a six-seater Express down into Soho Basin.

e plan is for a 1.2km Dopplemayr li , with associated towers and a heli-pad, opening up a vast area of skiable terrain, and linking to the top of Captain’s Basin.

Plans to expand into Soho Basin, in partnership with renowned Queenstown developer John Darby, were announced back in 2018. Since then, Cardrona has installed the Willow’s Quad on that southern face of Mt Cardrona, adding 65ha, and the Express would open up at least another 100ha.

“It’s like a whole nother Captain’s, essentially, which would be great,” Cardrona & Treble Cone GM Laura Hedley says, “a very exciting project.

“We’ve had consent for a li into Soho for quite a while, since we took on the lease. We needed to do a couple of variations, mainly around the [chair] parking building and the towers, but it’s essentially the same idea. We’ll nd out in the next wee while whether we can pop that li in. We’re all hoping for it.”

Hedley says there’s no rm date on when construction might begin on the project.

“We’ve just got to go through that process of making sure it’s the right time for the company and in the right place, all that sort of stu .”

e major change across Cardrona and TC this year is the introduction of dynamic pricing, commonly seen


Elevation: 1860m, vertical drop 600m

Skiable area: 400 hectares

Terrain: 25% Beginner, 25% Intermediate, 30% Advanced, 20% Expert

Li s: 1 express Chondola – 8-person gondola cabins, 6-seater chairs, 2 quad express chairli s, 2 quad xed chairli s, 3 surface conveyor li s (1 covered), 1 platter tow li

at ski elds the world over. Essentially, visitors will pay more on busy days, with the aim of managing numbers on the mountains.

“We limited the amount of season passes we sold, no fewer than last year, but we didn’t want to sell more, and also limited the early bird multi-day passes. ose are the two exible come-any-day ones.

“Now we’re selling more in-season passes, were asking people to pick a day or a mountain. So, there’s more pre-planning going into a ski trip but that hopefully means we can manage capacity and everyone gets a better experience when they are there.”

at will work out better for many locals, who tend to pick up a full season pass at the cheapest price, the early bird special.

Both ski elds have a full complement of sta this year, with international sta returning. It means all the F&B stands will be open, and Cardrona’s retail store will also reopen, following last year’s re.

Like NZSki, RealNZ has moved to accommodate more sta , taking on the lease of Base Backpackers in Wanaka.

“ at’s given us nearly 120 beds, which really takes a lot of pressure o that local housing environment,” Hedley says.

e other focus is the dozens of freestyle, race and social events on the mountains, such as the Winter Games NZ, which this year includes the Junior World Championships.


Elevation: 1960m, vertical drop 700m

Skiable area: 550 hectares, longest run 4km

Terrain: 10% Beginner, 45% Intermediate, 45% Advanced

Li s: 1 express 6-seater, 1 quad xed chairli , 1 platter tow li

Cardrona & Treble Cone GM Laura Hedley

Snow Farm numbers double with limited facilities

In the last ve years visitation to Cardrona Valley’s Snow Farm has doubled, as the boomers generation head to the hills for some gentler cross-country skiing.

Snow Farm sports 55kms of groomed trails over 300ha, o ering 69 beds in its four backcountry huts, including the new Musterer’s Hut, which opened last year with 36 beds. irty-four years ago Cardrona Valley runholder John Lee had just sold his Cardrona Ski Area with a vision for Snow Farm as NZ’s rst cross country ski area which opened in 1990.

“Dad always believed the baby boomers were coming through and alpine skiing was not a lifetime sport, knees give out and there are more potential injuries,” says Sam Lee, Snow Farm’s general manager “Cross country skiing is the golf of snow sports, suitable for anyone aged from three to 90.”

“We’re now seeing that vision come to fruition with a new popularity in the sport,” he says.

While alpine skiing remains tremendously popular, Lee says some have become frustrated with their ability to access the alpine elds, especially with car parks lling up several hours before the li s start a er a big dump.

“People’s time and money is precious and Snow Farm’s an a ordable alternative attracting mostly locals at $50 a day, $109 with lessons and rentals.”

More skiers are also accessing the internationally renowned Snow Farm from Queenstown and further a eld as it increases in popularity.

“We’re seeing more people trying snow shoeing. at’s also doubled in the past year,” says Lee.

Operated under the Pisa Alpine Charitable Trust (PACT), since 2012 as a not-forpro t cross-country ski area, the trust was required to return Snow Farm’s base building to its owner and neighbouring business, Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground in October last year.

Le with no base the trust is now fundraising to build a new Snow Farm facility and operating from basic Portacom buildings and shipping containers for this season. As a result it’s unable to run the café or shelter the usual numbers this season, but Lee says the trust is hoping to reach its $1.5m fundraising target by later this year so building can get underway in summer.

To date $430,000 has been raised with the bulk coming from the Otago Community Trust and Central Lakes Trust. “We’ve had a really positive response from private donors with an estimated $20,000 coming in from them. People are reaching into their bank accounts, which all helps, but we really need a large benefactor,” says Lee.

A trust submission to the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s Dra Annual Plan attracted more than 100 submissions in favour of the council making some contribution or providing the necessary toilets and infrastructure for the facility.

Lee says one of the greatest challenges this season is managing people’s expectations. With cross country skiers used to turning up at the café and buying hot drinks and

food, they’re trying to get the message out that this year will be di erent, he says. Operating from one large Portacom building on loan from Naylor Love, there will be limited indoor seating alongside the rentals area.

“People are usually understanding if they know what to expect but we need to ensure they’re aware they have to bring lunch, time it right, and know that they can drive 12kms down to the Cardrona Hotel for hot chips.”

“Our previous co ee cart really brought the community together with a family atmosphere and while we’re working with various co ee cart providers, we can’t leave the trucks up the mountain. It’s too cold, however, we’ll do all we can to run barbecues and o er that grass roots community vibe.”

e limitations aren’t putting school groups o . “We’ve got schools coming from Canterbury, even Wellington this year, and high schools doing cross country skiing for NCEA.”

Shotover Primary School has also booked its usual hut with batches of overnight students coming up to enjoy the experience.

Snow Play o ers a snow experience for those who want a tube slide, snow ght or snowman building. “Some people just want to experience being on snow.”

Snow Farm huts have been more than 80 percent booked out since early June, even with the extra capacity, and it’s still an immensely popular experience for youth groups and local schools.

Snow Farm also supports a plethora of charities and trusts.

July 2023 | Issue 31 LAKES BUSINESS
Cross country skiing in some of NZ’s most spectacular scenery at Snow Farm Samuel Lee, Alyse Lee with son Archie. Credit: Geoff Marks

Businesses in Cardrona Valley ready for winter

e picturesque quaint village of Cardrona is just 20 minutes from Wānaka or 40 minutes from Queenstown, and is more than just a drive-by. A prime location for all your pre- and post-mountain fun, it’s made up of some fabulous businesses, many of which report a change in the vibe around the seasons. While the general consensus seems to be that the summer months are actually busier, it’s certainly a lot of fun in the winter.

e Cardrona Hotel is synonymous with the area and a popular tourist destination year-round. First established in 1863, it’s one of Aotearoa’s oldest hotels and one of only two buildings that remain from the gold rush era. You’ll nd it bursting with apres-skiers most winter a ernoons. Cade ornton is one of the hotel’s owners and says that their preparation for the winter is pretty mega and includes increasing sta numbers by 10-15 for the season.

“Unlike the ski eld, the hotel’s there all year,” says ornton. “We come o a huge summer season, which now is bigger than our winter seasons – which are still incredibly huge. I love the winter because it’s just such a positive happy time. I think in the summer, everyone’s in the region to experience everything, whereas in the winter they really only come to ski or snowboard and so everyone shares a common interest. It gets a lot more people talking and the sta buzzed. We just have to gear up for huge volumes at certain times of the day.”

e stunning Cardrona Distillery was thought up by Desiree Reid in May of 2013 and the build was backed by an overwhelming amount of local support. e site produces single-malt spirits from scratch using their bespoke equipment. e Cellar Door serves up delicious food and the hours don’t change with the seasons; open seven-days-a-week from 9.30am until 7pm. In the mornings Reid says they see people popping by to grab a bacon butty and hot drink, while in the a ernoons their apres cocktails are a popular option.

“Summer and winter are as busy – I’m not sure if it’s the same crowd coming to experience Cardrona and all its glory in the four seasons or if the crowd is di erent,” says Reid. “We enjoy the local and New Zealand guests, but we’re also looking forward to welcoming our Australian neighbours back over and beyond. It seems

that with the borders being well-and-truly open, we’re having guests from further a eld again, which is great.”

Cardrona Valley General Store serves as a saving-grace for locals and visitors alike. Since its opening in 2017, those living and staying in the area no longer have to drive the 25+kms to the nearest shop for essential items. e store, which is owned by Margaret Bowes, showcases local goods and produce. Bowes says while winter is great, summer is greater for her business, but she does see big rushes of people in the a ernoons.

“I’m busier in the a ernoons with people coming o the mountain – the mornings, too, but a lot of people want to get up the mountain quickly and they don’t want to stop, they just want to get going,” says Bowes. “From about three o’clock I start seeing a lot of skiers coming in, because the village lls up with people staying here. ere are a lot of people coming in who want to pick up bits to take home. ere’s de nitely an excitement around the skiing with people coming o the mountain all enthusiastic. We’re just across the road from the pub, so we get that really fun apres ski vibe going on. It’s a fun time.”

Cardrona Valley has certainly quietened down since the boom of the Otago gold rush, but business owners have been kept busy. With the shoulder season for the region appearing to get shorter each year, and borders fully open again, it’s shaping up to be a bumper winter for the village.

Distillery ready for Winter General Store, positioned right across from the hotel, sees its business lift in the afternoon over winter Cardona Hotel staffs up to cater to the afternoon rush during the ski season

Ready, Sett, Go!

Queenstown-based Crimson Badger are ramping up for their busiest winter yet in their sixth year of operation. ey’ve been busy badgers over at e Sett as the business continues to grow and demand for their popular mulled products does too. is year, they’re introducing a new non-alcoholic o ering in addition to the mulled wine and mulled Ginger Bear, which will be o ered up the mountains and at various establishments throughout town.

Winter is the busiest season for the business thanks to their warm o erings. roughout season their mulled range has proven to be a favourite – starting out with mulled Ginger Bear before adding mulled wine to the mix and now, Humble 0% Mulled Apple Crumble.

“It started to grow slowly like everything else, we started to order more and more, and saw growing demand for the units. is year has been surprising in the demand we’ve had for mulled Ginger Bear, mulled wine, and Humble 0% Mulled Apple Crumble,” says founder Wesley McAllister.

e initial idea behind launching a mulled Ginger Bear was sparked when McAllister was approached by NZSki’s head of food and beverage at the time to create a warm version of the drink in an easy-to-pour unit. He went to work and came up with the mulled boxes you’ll now see.

“ is winter, we decided to try something new and build on the success of our existing mulled o erings,” says head brewer Harvey Hill. “We wanted to take a slightly di erent tack and appeal to a di erent corner of the market with our non-alcoholic o ering. It’s a break from the norm, and it’s delicious – it’s like sipping a lush liquid apple crumble.”

e unique mulled units that pour their o erings are all hand-cra ed by the team. ese devices allow bars and restaurants to serve piping hot beverages from a standard keg, making them a desirable option for businesses.

“A lot of work goes into the preparation for these, whether that’s constructing new units, maintaining existing ones, or producing the winter-speci c

products – it’s no small task. e vast majority of the units are installed within Queenstown and nearby surrounds, however, there are one or two lucky customers from further a eld that we have worked out arrangements with so they can have these options too, including Mt Hutt. As we continue to grow, we’re looking at ways we can branch out to more locations as demand is proving to be increasingly high.”

Crimson Badger has built a strong reputation within Queenstown and Wānaka, and both Wes and Harvey feel humbled to see how popular their o erings are. eir goal is always to innovate and make things as easy as possible. “ e convenience of just being able to order a standard keg of one of our products and dispense it through the unique system is the height of convenience for a lot of customers.

“ e fun thing about making these mulled products is that they’re di erent every year, and every year we take it as a new challenge to improve. We’ll take previous recipes, look at how we can tweak and build

on them by modifying the additions in a way which complements the base product. For instance, the base wine for our mulled wine changed this year – there’s a lot of wine out there and we wanted to pick the perfect one, then we had to adjust the spices and modify the process to best suit what we’re working with – it really gets the creative juices owing,” says Hill.

McAllister and the team are looking forward to the future and continuing to grow. ey’re continuing to expand production at e Sett and are fortunate to have a small but strong team to keep up with demand. “We’re extremely lucky, and it’s awesome to have the crew that we do, so I really couldn’t have asked for more,” says McAllister.

You can nd out more about where to nd the mulled o erings at Crimson Badger’s social pages or at

July 2023 | Issue 31 LAKES BUSINESS
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The idea for mulled Ginger Bear was sparked when NZSki’s head of food and beverage approached McAllister

Logan Lore - Digging in for charity

Fresh from assisting the latest in ux of high-end executives, including Australian corporates keen to push their mental and physical boundaries high in the southern snow-capped backcountry, Ben Logan is now looking to create a new programme that will raise the bar and generate funding for charities.

A former elite triathlete, health and survival specialist, Wānaka-based Logan and his highly quali ed team of instructors take individuals, business groups and families into the wilderness for some lifechanging challenges and bonding.

Logan’s business Logan Lore has been operating for seven years working with business teams and clients to teach high-performance, mental resilience, endurance and how to overcome challenges. Eating outdoors around the camp re is all part of the experience.

Clients come away empowered with a clear perspective, new purpose and new reference points of performance, says Logan. “ ey’ve discovered they can go higher than they thought they could.”

With corporate business courses, especially from the Australian market, taking o during the past year, Logan’s launching a new expedition aimed at raising money for much-needed charities.

A large chunk of his clients are men in need of a soul-searching escape into the mountains, many with tremendous net worth, says Logan. “ ese are fantastic people to work with all with drive and commitment to succeed, so we’re launching a new course with the aim of raising a substantial amount of money for charity,” he says.

e programme is aimed at company team building with each team having to raise a gure they set themselves for a nominated charity with the full sum paid out once they complete the performance and survival expedition with Logan Lore.

“Teams will comprise mostly of people who can raise big money and they only partake in the course if they’ve raised the money prior to the courses commencement,” says Logan. “ at money can then be used to create change through those charities.”

e idea behind the concept is that those taking part will have to give something of themselves, demonstrating their commitment and passion for their chosen charity, he says.

“ ey’ll have to really dig deep for the cause, completing a challenging expedition, proving their dedication to that charity.

“ ey’ll have to work for it and be purposeful about nding those funds.”

He’s already talking to several corporates about the concept, both from NZ and overseas.

Logan’s hoping some of the charities will support kids.

“We want to create a tremendous amount of money for organisations, especially those that provide health bene ts or experiences for kids.”

His business has seen strong growth in top echelon corporates coming to do his expeditions, usually three days in the alpine backcountry, anywhere from Snow Farm to Glenorchy.

Expeditions for elite sportspeople like professional rugby teams, the NRL and Olympians are also popular with some high-pro le names who’ve undertaken huge challenges in the mountains.

While the courses are open to all, most clients are men, wanting to push the boundaries and discover a new empowerment as they overcome outdoor survival tasks set before them.

“We provide challenging experiences that have transferrable bene ts to personal, family and business life.”

Surprise scenarios can be extremely testing for teams. “If they’re from warmer climates they can nd themselves driving old school, manual four-wheel drives in snow. ese are people who drive expensive, upmarket vehicles on highways who have usually never driven in snow.” For some people these challenges will be more di cult, but the whole team works together to help them overcome, says Logan. “It’s about opening up and being vulnerable.”

Building a stretcher, snow cave or snow shelter,

navigation, traversing are all situations that teams face, the biggie – icy cold water immersion is usually saved for the nale a er a long hike in snow.

Ice cold water immersion can be very confronting with most men believing they will last 10 to 20 seconds, but many emerging elated a er 10 to 20 minutes, says Logan. “If done properly this not only o ers tremendous health bene ts but builds great commitment and resilience, and develops critical thinking and mindset training, which all help manage stress.

“We take teams to hidden alpine lakes and it’s always a surreal and magical day, especially for Australians who despise the cold.”

He says it’s hugely rewarding seeing participants overcome challenges way outside their comfort zones and head away freshly-charged and empowered to take on whatever comes their way.


Outside Sports A Queenstown outdoor retail success story

What started in the mid-1990s as a means for two outdoor sports lovers to live in Queenstown has become one of the region’s most successful outdoor retail brands.

Professional international triathlete John Knight and teacher wife Judy boldly opened their rst store at the top of Queenstown Mall in 1995.

“We’d been living in Boulder, Colorado, with John competing a lot in Europe,” says Judy. John reached sixth in the World Series Ironman Triathlon in the early 1990s but the use of EPO performance enhancing drugs was becoming rampant and he was competing against top triathletes who were taking them. “ ere’s also a fairly limited timespan to push yourself like that training every day.”

“We really wanted to live in Queenstown and needed a business idea.” ey saw a gap in the market in Queenstown and teamed up with Dunedin Recycled Recreation (later R&R Sports) owner Craig Wanty as a third shareholder. “At that time there was only Bill Lachiny’s Ski Shop, Brown’s, and maybe Alpine Sports. Our point of di erence was a sports store focused on skiing during winter and full-on biking in summer.”

Wanty brought the industry experience and supplier contacts while John brought the sporting expertise and knowledge with a PhD and Masters in Physical Chemistry.

Outside Sports opened the day a er son Benji, now 28 and a buyer for the brand, was born.

e store resonated with the local market and soon expanded taking over the next-door sheepskin store, inheriting its champion saleswoman Liz Wallace.

Icebreaker was also established in 1995 and Outside Sports became one of the brand’s largest New Zealand accounts. “Jeremy Moon came around with his little suitcase. John saw the bene ts immediately being a farmer’s son. Icebreaker grew into a huge brand for us.” Marmot was another big brand that sold well with a comprehensive outdoor footwear range. “We became the biggest outdoor tters in NZ.”

In 2001 a second so er, more lifestyle fashion brand store was launched – Outside Adventure further down Queenstown Mall while the main store continued to focus on more technical apparel.

A store in Arrowtown was opened but when the landlord upped the rent for both their Queenstown and Arrowtown stores they relocated to a new purpose-built, three-level store beside Fergburger in Shotover Street. “As a minor shareholder in that building, we were going some way to safeguard against astronomical rents.”

“A few months a er opening Fergburger arrived, which was fantastic for foot tra c,” says Judy. “ at did amazing things for our turnover.” However, eventually that too drove up the rent to an unmanageable level. “We were trying to be absolutely world class. It was a huge building over three levels, but it was just too hard with that rent,” she says.

Fortunately, they’d sold out of their minor shareholding by the time the Global Financial Crisis struck in 2008. ey eventually looked further up Shotover Street and formed a collaboration with Trojan Holdings and John Martin on a new purpose-built store which opened in 2015 and is still the home of Outside Sports.

“It’s an incredible building, stunning architecture, a timeless building. A lot of insights came from John who’d visited similar stores in Europe.”

Less foot tra c made the rst few years extremely challenging, she says. However, with neighbouring stores like Torpedo 7, R & R Sports and Small Planet arriving the area developed a cluster of outdoor enthusiast stores.

In 2003 Te Anau’s John Greaney bought into Outside Sports Queenstown and in 2009 they rolled his Te Anau Sportsworld business into Outside Sports Te Anau. Wānaka followed, teaming up with Peter King of Good Sports there.

Prior to the Covid lockdown they’d been gearing up to launch a Tekapo store. e deal was signed pre-Covid, so they pressed on. at opened at Waitangi weekend 2021.

“ e Covid years were incredibly challenging,” says Judy. “We just battened down the hatches. We knew once the country opened it would pay its way.”

eir Queenstown Airport store, initially exclusively Icebreaker then the best of Outside Sports, was equally challenging. However, they retained sta and trimmed operating hours.

It’s the loyal longtime locals that have shaped their business, however, increasingly, locals are avoiding downtown Queenstown so the store is more reliant on international visitors while Queenstown Central in Five Mile caters to a loyal locals market.

July 2023 | Issue 31 LAKES BUSINESS
Judy and John Knight at home in the Wakatipu The current purpose-built Outside Sports store in Shotover Street The original….Outside Sports at the top of the Mall

New Zealand’s Ice Hockey season is well underway and local team SkyCity Stampede have had a strong start. e adored mascot, e Beast, is back for the rst time since pre-Covid, and several new players are taking to the rink this year. ey’re battling it out with four teams across Aotearoa to take home the Birgel Cup.

e team is made up of a mix of local and international players and this season they have welcomed previous Dunedin player and Ice Black, Dylan Devlin and two imports from America, Brendan Walkom and Je Solow. Each team in the league is entitled to have two import players, which are o en American or Europeans due to the di erence in seasons between hemispheres.

Dylan was with Dunedin’s Phoenix under for 10 years and played in over 105 games. e desire for a lifestyle change prompted a move to Queenstown –the good thing about the sport is that most of the guys know each other, especially between Queenstown and Dunedin as a lot of younger players play for Dunedin because they go to university there. Dylan was Dunedin’s top goal scorer so it’s good to see him in a yellow and blue jersey.

Je and Brendan are both American imports. Je (defence) is from Naples, Florida and Brendan (forward) is from Pittsburgh. Both have tted nicely into the team and culture. ey most recently played in the English Elite League – Je was playing for the Glasgow Clan and Brendan for the Bees. He was a top scorer and a crowd favourite. e SkyCity Stampede

The beast is back in town

are really pleased to be able to sign them as - both have made a big impact on the team and results so far.

e team management has changed this season with Nate Hedwig and Lee Summer coming on board.

“Nate was one of the original superfans of Stampede,” says Lee Summer. “He was once the guy you’d see in his canary yellow suit, shouting from the crowd. I’m sure he would say himself it’s been a transition from being that guy on the side lines into a team manager role. He’s also very handy with the equipment side of things as he’s a hockey player himself.”

Lee states that “although I don’t have a hockey background, I got involved due to a friendship with one of the defensemen on the team who is also an Ice Black. Just in conversation one day, it came up that they were looking for a team manager and I mentioned that I’ll put my name forward. So, that’s how it came about – just knowing some people.”

Another exciting development this year is the return of e Beast, SkyCity Stampede’s mascot. e Beast is a young guy, new to Queenstown from ailand who saw an ad on Facebook and fancied doing something di erent. It’s great to have e Beast back, he’s a good crowd favourite.

SkyCity have reintroduced ‘Shoot e Puck’ which is being played in between two of the periods. Two members from the crowd are selected to come out onto the ice to try and shoot a puck through a couple of small holes in the goal from about halfway - $100 cash is up for grabs each game!

We couldn’t put on the best sporting and entertainment event in Queenstown without the support of the many volunteers that generously give their time and of course e Queenstown Ice Arena. All of this is coordinated by the incredible Team Coordinator Nicky ompson. Each game requires around 20 volunteers over several di erent positions. We are fortunate to get tremendous support from other teams throughout the club including Wakatipu Wild and younger aged group teams, but would welcome interest from anyone.

If you’re ready to cheer on the SkyCity Stampede, want to check out the 2023 Hockey schedule, purchase tickets, or nd out more about the team and what’s going on go to


Five minutes with Bridget Legnavsky at Sugar Bowl Resort, USA

“It’s a competitive environment in the US, with Epic owning so many of the resorts and Alterra the rest. We don’t have the horsepower they have, so need a really capable team.”

Legnavsky has spent the rst nine months in the job building out that team, recruiting and promoting. “I just love the team I’m working with. We’re on re and heading down the track of rebrand and a massive resort development.”

ere have also been regular trips into San Francisco for meetings with the board and also investors.

“ ere’s an incredibly intelligent group of people down in the Bay Area, who you get to spend time with, which was quite attractive for me in terms of my own growth, learning and this part of my career.”

Legnavsky has found the business world in the US as a whole to be more political than the transparent, independent New Zealand business culture.

“In New Zealand, you make your rules, stick to them, you don’t bend them, that’s how we are as a culture. So, when you come into the US, you start that way, but you have to think about all the nuances. I’ve never been in an environment where every nuance, no matter how little it seems, is really relevant, and really important to consider in your decision making.”

e work culture is also di erent. “People work all the time, seven days a week, and only take two to three weeks o a year. And you’re always on call. With this high-performing board environment, over-communication is the expectation and everything is super action-orientated.”

Asked if she’s thought about applying for the RealNZ top job, recently vacated by Stephen England-Hall, Legnavsky doesn’t give a direct ‘no’, but says she plans to see out the Sugar Bowl project, which could take three to ve years.

She misses Wānaka “like crazy” she says, and does plan to return this year - “we’ll spin around the ski resorts looking for sta to come up and work for us in winter.”

“Way, way too much snow”. at’s how Bridget Legnavsky describes her rst season at Sugar Bowl resort, in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s a statement that would probably prompt her former colleagues, at Cardrona Alpine Resort, to play the world’s smallest violin. More than 20 metres of the white stu fell during the winter.

“I mean, it sounds great, doesn’t it,” Legnavsky says. “But when you think about skiing, you only need a certain amount of snow to ski on, right. You don’t need 20 metres under your feet.

“So, this season was really tough, it was almost a crisis, like dealing with a constant ood. We’re in the process of a resort development plan, for the gondola base area, and just the thinking that has to go into how to handle 20m of snow - where are you going to blow it, where are you going to put it, and the costs.

“We need a whole team of people to clear the roads, car parks, doorways, and then when it melts in the summer, you nd out how much is broken underneath, the decks, roofs, chimneys. It’s outrageous.”

A er 30 years in Wānaka snowsports industry, including as GM at Cardrona from 2014, and a stint as RealNZ’s chief experience o cer, Legnavsky swapped NZ for the US in September last year, becoming president and CEO of Sugar Bowl.

Sugar Bowl was California’s rst ski resort, established in 1939 by famous Austrian skiing champion Hannes Schroll. He was partly bankrolled by Walt Disney, a er whom one of the peaks is named. It became a popular party and ski spot for Hollywood stars, including Marilyn Monroe and Errol Flynn, who’d stay in its modernist lodge.

ere are now 200 homes in the village, which is completely snowbound in winter, and the homeowners also own the resort itself. e only way in or out is the gondola or by foot. It is one of the last independent resorts in the US, about twice the size of Cardrona, with 1000 hectares and 15 chairli s, and a ‘comfortable carrying capacity’ of 5500 guests per day.

“ e mandate for me was really simple, and quite inspirational, which is why I took the job,” Legnavsky says.

“It is to make sure Sugar Bowl remains relevant, current and cool, based on what makes it unique, which is its character- lled independence, so that the villagers, their families, season pass holders and day pass holders want to keep coming.

July 2023 | Issue 31 LAKES BUSINESS

Let’s talk about this

Women’s business coach, podcaster and blogger Jane Guy has interviewed more than 80 women since her Queenstown Life podcast relaunched three years ago.

It began as a lockdown project, a way to relieve the pressure from her day job with NGO Central Lakes Family Services.

“We were dealing with a lot of family violence through lockdown, and it was really stressful,” says the well-known Queenstowner.

“I’d interviewed lots of people in the community before, recording them for a podcast on my blog, so I thought ‘why not resurrect it?’. ere were people all around the world stuck in their houses, what a perfect time to just have some conversations.”

e podcast is a collection of women’s voices that o en aren’t heard as the ‘work world’ is so male orientated.

Jane’s now interviewed everyone from American rock stars to comediennes, entrepreneurs, business pioneers, investment experts, artists, scientists and politicians, including musician Amanda Palmer, Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson, Yu Mei founder Jessie Wong, Collective Hub CEO Lisa Messenger, and New Zealander of the Year Dr Siouxsie Wiles.

“Interviewing Siouxsie was an amazing window into what she was dealing with. Every few minutes her phone would go o , because something would change in the world. She was writing new commentary every 10 minutes.

“And Amanda Palmer was another highlight, because I’d loved her for years, and my sister was obsessed, and I managed to get her but was really nervous. But she was great, and we speak to each other every day now.”

e podcast has also become something of a time-capsule, capturing, for example, what it was like to live in New York during lockdown, or through the Black Lives Matter protests.

“It was just the opportunity to see how people were coping with it all.”

Jane employs a super-casual style through the interviews, putting people at ease with her self-deprecating Northern charm and disarming, non-formal approach to questions and topics.

“I think it’s a skill to make people feel comfortable really quickly, and it leads to more open, honest and interesting conversations.”

e podcast has a work focus, with women sharing their business journey and best advice, tips, tricks on investing, entrepreneurship and all things nance, and Jane also regularly delivers monologues on various topics.

And all this informs and underpins her other work as a business coach. She’s recently gone out on her own and launched her coaching company, Queenstown Life Coaching.

“It’s a relatively new thing in New Zealand, whereas in America, everyone in business has a coach,” she says. “I got one a couple of years ago and it completely changed my life and my business. It just changed my approach, from passivity, from sitting around and waiting, to actually asking for what I want.”

“I focus very much on mindset. It’s not therapy but if you’re blocked and you want something but don’t know how to get it, it helps to have someone shine a spotlight and help you uncover what’s holding you back, to peel back the layers.”

As for the podcast, that will continue, hopefully with its near-100% success rate of landing interviewees. Only one person has eluded Jane, so far.

“I emailed Jacinda about 400 times, but her PA was like, ‘she’s a little bit busy at the moment’, but a girl can try. She’s still on my list to get.”

Queenstown Life podcast is available on Apple and Spotify. Jane can be contacted through or Instagram for all coaching enquiries. Sponsored

Prepare yourself to be in peak performance for the snow

When it comes to preparation for snow sports, health should be a priority. Physical fitness, nutrition, sleep, rest, stretching and warm up are all essential to prevent injuries and enhance performance. Regular exercise will help to improve cardiovascular endurance, strength and balance. You can nd speci c exercises related to your sport that will help you better prepare for the season. Listen to your body and know when to rest so that you can be alert and focused to avoid injury. Warm up your muscles to help your muscles and stretch to improve your exibility to reduce risk of injury.

Skiing and snowboarding put signi cant stress on various parts of the body, including the spine, joints, and muscles. Achieving peak performance is a goal shared by many skiing and snowboarding. At Queenstown Health, we identify and address any underlying issues a ecting your body’s biomechanics, such as imbalances or suboptimal movement patterns. We do this by identifying potential areas of weakness, and provide guidance on proper warm-up exercises, stretching routines, and techniques for injury prevention. By incorporating these strategies into your tness routine, you can minimise the risk of injuries and enjoy a safer and more enjoyable experience on the mountains. e integrated approach at Queenstown Health ensures that patients receive comprehensive care tailored to their speci c needs, facilitating a quicker return to the slopes.

Queenstown Health’s multidisciplinary team of chiropractors, physiotherapists, acupuncturists and a sports masseuse, o er specialised services to ensure optimal preparation and rehabilitation. Chiropractors focus on aligning the spine and promoting overall musculoskeletal health. ey utilise gentle adjustments and spinal manipulations to alleviate joint restrictions, reduce pain, and enhance nerve function. Chiropractic care can be especially bene cial for skiers, as it helps improve spinal stability, joint mobility, and overall body coordination. By ensuring proper alignment and joint function, chiropractors contribute to injury prevention and enhance the body’s ability to cope with

the physical demands of skiing. Some of our chiropractors have their international sports certi cate. While some work with the Stampede and have worked alongside side professional athletes. I am currently working with the local womens Rovers football and Wild Ice hockey team.

Physiotherapists in Queenstown play a vital role in ski preparation and injury prevention. ese highly skilled professionals assess and address musculoskeletal imbalances, providing personalised exercise programs to improve strength, exibility, and balance. rough targeted interventions, physiotherapists help skiers enhance their technique, minimise the risk of injury, and optimise performance on the slopes. Whether you’re a seasoned skier or a beginner, a physiotherapy session before hitting the slopes can signi cantly improve your skiing experience. e physios have worked with international sports and are currently working on side the chiropractors with the local ice hockey and football team.

Acupuncture- As an ancient Chinese healing art, acupuncture has gained recognition worldwide for its e ectiveness in managing pain, promoting healing, and restoring balance within the body. Skiers who su er from chronic pain, muscle strains, or joint in ammation can bene t from

acupuncture sessions o ered in Queenstown. By stimulating speci c acupoints, acupuncture can alleviate pain, reduce in ammation, and enhance overall well-being. Additionally, acupuncture can aid in stress reduction, allowing skiers to approach their skiing adventures with a calm and focused mindset. Akinori has worked with high end skiers and snow boarders previously, as well as the All Blacks.

Massage therapy is an essential component of ski preparation and post-ski rehabilitation. Skiers o en experience muscle tension, fatigue, and soreness, which can hamper performance and increase the risk of injury. Sports massage at Queenstown health help to relieve muscular tension, improve circulation, and promote recovery. Regular massage sessions not only enhance relaxation but also facilitate faster healing, enabling skiers to bounce back quickly and enjoy their time on the slopes. Emily has worked with the All Blacks, to help with their overall performance and management of the team.

Whether you are looking to prevent injuries, recover from skiing mishap or simply maximise your enjoyments on the slopes, the health practitioners are here to support you on your journey this season!

July 2023 | Issue 31 LAKES BUSINESS
C HIROPRACTIC PHYSIOTHERA P Y MASSAGE ACUPUNCTURE Don’t get left on the sidelines....get your skates on and see the team at Queenstown Health CHIROPRACTIC -PHYSIOTHERAPY - MASSAGE Experienced therapists who will take the aches and pains out of your winter! Phone 442 8190 QUEENSTOWN - ARROWTOWN - FRANKTON

T Galleria by DFS: Winter fireworks is the first step in support of Queenstown’s spirit

T Galleria by DFS opened in downtown Queenstown in the former O’Connells Mall late last year with what General Manager Mario Gabriel calls “excellent timing”. He’s shed light on the rst eight months of T Galleria by DFS, its future and connection with the vibrant Queenstown community. According to him, the store’s opening came at an opportune time marked by travel return and optimism, presenting an opportunity to contribute to Queenstown’s positive energy.

DFS opening not only inspired other businesses to expand in the CBD but also helped instil con dence in others to invest in elevating the level of service to both residents and visitors, especially coming o a few years of challenging uncertainty.

Discussing the unique concept of T Galleria in Queenstown, Mario says its design stands out within the DFS family as the rst resort-style Galleria in recognition of Queenstown’s uniqueness and character.

However, he’s quick to emphasize that the real source of pride is in the local DFS team and their unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional customer experiences.

From the beginning, Mario has looked to establish and reinforce T Galleria’s intention of nding meaningful ways to contribute to Queenstown’s experiences as well as supporting the town’s long-term vision.

One such step is the revival of a beloved community celebration, the DFS Winter Fireworks which were on June 30, marking the start of the winter school holidays. e event celebrated Queenstown’s togetherness while supporting the ambitious goals of the Love Queenstown initiative towards regenerative tourism.

Re ecting on CBD street upgrades in Queenstown, Mario says he admires the town’s resilience and adaptability.

“Queenstown has surpassed expectations by diversifying its o erings beyond tourism, creating an ecosystem that continues to attract value businesses and residents. e town proved once again that it has what it takes to navigate less than ideal times.”

Mario says there are understandable misconceptions about the DFS T Galleria brand, but is keen to set the record straight. “We cater to so much more than dutyfree shoppers and travellers,” he says. “Since opening, locals are a signi cant and growing portion of customers we have the privilege to serve.”

While admitting there are still lessons to learn and room to grow in meeting the expectations of visitors and locals, he says the retailer continues to expand and diversify o erings to meet these unique preferences and needs.

Asked about the inspiration behind the DFS Winter Fireworks event, Mario’s eyes light up. He says the Love Queenstown community fund, dedicated to supporting climate, conservation, and biodiversity projects, played a pivotal role.

“We were determined to create an event in support of Queenstown’s long-term vision.”

rough a set of fortunate circumstances, the decision to reinstate the reworks was made, with Love Queenstown the ultimate bene ciary. Mario says he is extremely grateful to local residents Wayne and Betty Perkins who generously donated their Million Dollar Cruise for a VIP reworks cruise experience, and Eichardt’s Private Hotel with experiences and silent auctions prizes.

Although the event was organised at short notice, Mario is keen to emphasise that it marks the beginning of what DFS intends to be a cherished tradition. “Being able to contribute to our community is always a privilege,” he says. Feedback from other businesses and local residents, including o ers of support, has been truly humbling. He commends the numerous local businesses that have eagerly contributed items and experiences for a Love Queenstown auction, embodying the spirit of unity.

For Mario, with his diverse background in international ve-star hotels, independent developments and now the world of retail, being involved in projects is what brings him the most joy. Building brands, developing experiences, and working with diverse teams is a true passion.

He loves building a new team that creates unforgettable experiences which resonate with customers and the community, regardless of the industry.

“Queenstown goes beyond its breathtaking natural beauty. It’s the place to dare and create, and the genuine warmth of its people is what truly makes it a magical place. It’s a constant contribution we all make, like being a good neighbour, host, parent or custodian of the place.”

Sponsored General Manager Mario Gabriel


$3.5 million for First Table

Queenstown tech rm First Table has announced a “signi cant investment” from Invest South, bringing its total recent capital raise to $3.5m.

Invest South is the second major wholesale investor to back the hospitality booking tech company, following Mainland Angel Investors. e capital raise, launched via online investment marketplace Snowball E ect in March, has also attracted 325 other individual investors. It has smashed its $1.5m minimum target.

First Table CEO Mat Weir, who founded the company back in 2014, plans to use the money to strengthen its position in New Zealand and accelerate overseas growth.

“ ese partnerships a rm the strength of the opportunity and con dence in our team despite these challenging times for raising capital,” Weir says. “We’re excited to put this investment to work and execute our plan to become the leading hospitality technology platform not just in New Zealand, but globally.”

Queenstown House Prices

Queenstown has again reported home values rising, against the nationwide downward trend. Values increased 2.4% in the May quarter, while the rest of the country experienced an average decline of -3.4%. House price decline nationally has started to slow and the average value in 11 of the 16 biggest urban areas fell including -2.3% in Auckland, -2.6% in Wellington and -2.5% in Christchurch.

Local QV registered valuer Greg Simpson commented: “We note that there is currently reduced sales volumes and uctuating but still positive value growth for residential property overall. e Queenstown Lakes District has selling prices that are above other districts and this is likely to continue given the recovery of the tourism industry and the general shortage of housing in the main centres of Queenstown and Wanaka.”

Busy Season Ahead

A busy winter season is expected ahead for the region with Queenstown Airport forecasting domestic and international passenger levels slowly returning to close to 2019 numbers. While Queenstown Winter Festival won’t be returning, the DFS Winter Fireworks were held on 30 June and Matariki Arrowtown lights will be held on 14 July. e slow start to the season certainly hasn’t put a halt to the festivities with bustling streets and an abundance of events on the horizon.

Startup Education Scholarships

New education initiatives backed by Callaghan Innovation and entrepreneur education platform Startup NZ is giving a new batch of enterprising New Zealanders the opportunity to fast track their venture ideas. Startup NZ programme founder and trustee for Startup Queenstown-Lakes, Richard Liew, believes this is a game-changer in understanding Kiwi innovators and scaling up their entrepreneurial skills. 60 successful applicants will receive free admission to the Startup NZ entrepreneurs programme, an online learning hub introducing the basics of business building methodology.

Pet Holiday Destination

Queenstown is home to the third highest number of holiday bookings with pets in the country. Airbnb has seen a signi cant increase in nights booked at their listings with pets (almost 50 percent). Christchurch tops the list of pet holiday destinations with Auckland coming in second. Airbnb’s data shows that Kiwis are seeking pet-friendly stays away from bustling cities this winter, wanting their furry friends to get among the great outdoors. “We know people love travelling with their pets and for many, their four legged friends are an extension of the family,” said Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb’s Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand.

July 2023 | Issue 31 LAKES BUSINESS
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