Wildlife and conservation projects ‘flying high’ for heli company

Two wildlife and conservation projects are flying high thanks to Heli Glenorchy.

A connection between a seventeen-month-old Labrador and traps to prevent a hedgehog invasion in New Zealand’s native bush seems somewhat unlikely.

But they’ve been brought together in the frontline battle against natural disasters and the extinction of native species.

Three-year-old scenic flight company Heli Glenorchy is ‘giving back’ to Glenorchy’s treasured environment by donating flight time to New Zealand’s renowned search and rescue service LandSAR and the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust’s predator control operations.

They’re helping the Trust ‘bring back the birdsong’ in the Routeburn and Dart valleys and helping Zara the Labrador to ‘fly’ to real-scenario training locations in the depths of the mountains.

For trainee SAR dog Zara, heli hours that any pilot would envy are important to her training.

She’s been trained from a puppy by NZ LandSAR Search Dogs volunteer and dog handler Vladka Kennett to search in wilderness and avalanche environments.

With her annual assessment due late-August, Vladka says it’s extremely important that Zara has frequent access to snow training and exposure to flying so she becomes comfortable and confident in the air.

“To have local community support is invaluable to us, not only for access to “real scenario” training locations but for volunteers to get to know each other before working together in real events,” she says. “This, of course, includes pilots and on-ground crew.

“The Head of the Lake is backcountry and heliskiing terrain and can only be accessed by helicopter.

“Thanks to Heli Glenorchy’s support, we can regularly visit the hangar to do routine obedience and search training and jump on and off ‘the chopper’ if needed.

“Time is crucial in an avalanche situation, so it can save lives if we can just grab the dog and a pack and jump on the heli right here.”

Meanwhile, flight time donated to the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust will be auctioned on TradeMe, with scenic flights going to the highest bidder.

Trust Executive Officer Geoff Hughes says the funds raised will go towards predator control in the Routeburn and Dart Valleys.

“Most species at risk in the Routeburn and Dart valleys nest in places that predators find easy to access, so it’s our job to save native species from becoming extinct,” he says.

“Hedgehogs have been spotted in Blanket Bay and if they arrive in Glenorchy they could cause destruction to ground-nesting bird nests.

“The money raised could be spent on buying hedgehog traps by the Buckler Burn or help serve and maintain the 601 traps installed at the new Dart and Rees rivers trapping project.

“As a self-funding charitable trust, we’re ever so appreciative of Nick and the team for the funding and support.”

Heli Glenorchy also works with the Department of Conservation (DOC) servicing local walking tracks, in addition to commercial work including heavy lifting, firefighting and most recently assisting with the reconstruction of Kaikoura.

Its recent work has seen the company be recognised with a Qualmark silver rating for its sustainable practices.

Heli Glenorchy director and chief pilot Nick Nicholson is delighted to ‘give back’ to Glenorchy’s treasured environment.

“It’s the raw nature and remote terrain that makes our business possible so it’s nice to be working closely with the Glenorchy community,” he says.

“Our support to the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust is complementary to the work we do with DOC, and New Zealand’s search and rescue service is essential to get behind as it’s a safety net for anyone exploring the backcountry during winter.

“Achieving a Qualmark silver rating is fantastic and supports the movement we’re going through for our Safety Management Systems framework.

“The recognition and constructive feedback we’ve received from Tourism New Zealand will help with future growth in all aspects of the company.”

Video footage of NZ LandSAR Search Dogs volunteer and dog handler Vladka Kennett and Zara can be found here.

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VisitorPoint secures AA Travel & Tourism contract

A New Zealand brochure distribution company has secured a national contract with the largest visitor guide publisher in the tourism industry.

Effective from today (Monday August 13), AA Travel & Tourism will outsource the warehousing, distribution and merchandising of its market-leading AA Traveller brochures, guides and directories to VisitorPoint.

VisitorPoint is New Zealand’s only national distributor of tourism information, having distributed brochures throughout New Zealand for more than 30 years.

AA Traveller’s 25 publications cover accommodation, activities and maps, and special interest areas including cycle trails, food and wine and golf.

The publications, targeted at domestic and international travellers, will be distributed to designated AA distribution stands and locations through VisitorPoint’s comprehensive national network of 37 merchandised distribution circuits.

New brochures, guides and directories published by AA Travel & Tourism will also be in VisitorPoint’s remit.

The contract is a result of AA Travel & Tourism’s review of storage, distribution and merchandising for its print products, and will secure significant cost savings and productivity improvements for their business.

Delighted to add AA’s full contract warehouse services to the company portfolio, Kelly Harland of VisitorPoint says it’s an exciting time for the team.

“The agreement is an extension of our long-standing relationship with AA Travel & Tourism, and we’re excited to see it flourish,” she says.

“To date, we’ve been managing exclusive displays in the Queenstown and Auckland markets, but nothing on this scale.

“The collaboration not only strengthens the offering to our network of outlets, but it enables us to offer the most comprehensive library of collateral to the travel and tourism industry all in one place.”

With the announcement, comes the employment of a new staff member.

Having worked with AA Travel & Tourism for over ten years as distribution manager, Eileen Philpot brings her expertise and knowledge to VisitorPoint as national distribution assistant, providing continuity of service and support to outlets stocking AA guides.

AA Travel & Tourism General Manager Greig Leighton has congratulated VisitorPoint for its robust processes and expertise in packing and delivery of product.

Outlets will now order direct from VisitorPoint’s trade website (www.visitorpointonline.com) from Monday August 13.

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Millbrook Resort starts work on $50million development

Four years of planning, appeals, hearings and zone changes have finally come to fruition for Queenstown’s Millbrook Resort.

The multi-award-winning resort has been granted resource consent for a $50m development that will see it develop a neighbouring farm into a new golf course interspersed with 42 sections for high-end residential homes.

The development will add nine new golf holes to Millbrook’s current world-class 27-hole offering, enabling the resort to operate two full 18-hole courses.

Initial site clearance is underway and, under a separate consent, work has almost been completed on shifting the Arrow Irrigation Pipe to a new location to make way for the development.

Groundworks include a raft of ecological and landscape enhancements, the first land titles should go live in late 2020, and once the new golf course is constructed and ‘grown-in’ it should be playable by 2021.

Millbrook Director of Property and Development Ben O’Malley says the net was cast “far and wide” for project tendering, with the main earthworks contract going to Grant Hood Contracting from Ashburton.

Highly-experienced turf specialist company TIC Golf Projects Ltd has been awarded the main golf course construction project, the same company that developed the resort’s Coronet Nine course, along with a golf course irrigation installation contract.

Millbrook is still working through detailed design on works such as roading, reticulated services and the resort’s distinctive schist stone walls.

In the initial earthworks phase, half a million cubic metres of material will be moved within the site. A ‘zero cut to fill’ balance means all work will be carried out with material contained within the farm area, with topsoil stripped and stored before being re-spread once earthworks are complete.

Mr O’Malley says Millbrook has been working alongside the Friends of Lake Hayes and the Otago Regional Council to support their initiative to discharge off-peak water from the Arrow River irrigation race to Mill Stream (which runs through Millbrook into Lake Hayes).

“They believe this will help enhance the water quality of Lake Hayes and we have the means to provide them the link between the Arrow Irrigation Company pipe and Mill Stream,” he says.

The ORC is part-way through a plan change process that will see a minimum flow placed on the Arrow River, from which Millbrook currently sources its golf irrigation water via the AIC.

The minimum flow process would pose a risk to Millbrook’s golf operations, as it’s sand-based tees and greens, installed to meet international PGA specifications, require daily watering.

“To guard against this risk we’re also constructing a 30million-litre water storage lake on the farm land,” says Mr O’Malley.

The new 36-hole format at Millbrook s been described as a ‘game changer’ for the resort, effectively adding 100% golf capacity with two fully operational 18-hole courses that can be operated simultaneously.

It’s being welcomed by the growing number of Millbrook Country Club members who will be able to play an ever-changing private members’ course on a daily basis, as well as another for tourists and locals.

It’s also good news for the long-term future of the New Zealand Open, currently hosted at Millbrook in conjunction with The Hills golf course.

The Open has always planned to move to a three-course model, similar to international Dunhill Links and AT&T events, and having two courses available at Millbrook would enable this goal to be achieved.

Ben O’Malley says the resort is “ecstatic” to be getting underway with the development.

“It’s been over four years since we first bought the former Dalgleish Farm land with the dream of adding to the resort,” he says.

“There’s been a lot of hard work from our consultants and planning team to get to this point, but now it’s all coming to fruition it’s simply fantastic.”

The land has provided a fantastic opportunity for the golf course team, as well as lending itself to the development of two discretely and geographically-separated residential neighbourhoods.

The large upper plateau contains 24 sites boasting elevated panoramic views over fairways and pastoral lands to the wider basin. The lower slopes are home to a further 18 sites with north-facing outlooks over an enhanced Mill Stream and the last of the stunning new golf holes. Most of the sites are expected to sell for over $1million each.

Parts of Mill Stream will be widened to create larger waterways and enhanced wetlands. The new development will retain a rural, agrarian style with over 20 hectares of working farmland retained for grazing and retention of a historic woolshed.

The original 1860’s farmhouse will also stay on the land, with some sympathetic additions.

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New Zealand’s first smart hotel opens in Queenstown

mi-pad Queenstown, New Zealand’s first fully ‘smart’ hotel has opened its doors in the heart of Queenstown.

 

MIPAD Holdings Ltd has opened mi-pad Queenstown, a next generation, energy-conscious hotel experience for the smart traveller and the ultimate marriage of technology, sustainability, comfort and convenience.

 

The six-storey hotel features 57 stylish and well-appointed rooms with the latest in-room tech, multiple ‘social spaces’ and an impressive rooftop terrace.

And the key to mi-pad Queenstown is that there is no key.

 

Guests booking their stay download the hotel’s personal app ‘mia’ and their smartphone becomes a room key, meaning physical check-ins (or check outs) are a thing of the past.

 

Mia also has a range of other tricks up her sleeve, with the app enabling guests to set temperatures and mood lighting in their room (even remotely), request room service or alert hotel staff that they don’t want to be disturbed.  

 

Access to the hotel is available 24/7 thanks to the technology. Once guests are settled in, mia transforms into a personal digital concierge, delivering the latest information on events, activities or offers and encouraging them to experience the best of this stunning destination.

 

The $15m John Blair-designed hotel is in the heart of Queenstown, less than a two-minute walk from the vibrant centre with its hundreds of bars, restaurants and activity operators set on the shores of stunning Lake Wakatipu.

 

The mi-pad hotel concept is the brainchild of Queenstown property developer Lewis Gdanitz and is the fruition of three years of hard work.

 

“mi-pad is the result of 15 years of research, travelling the world and finding the places that did accommodation really well,” he says.

 

“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to deliver a property that’s unlike anything else on offer in New Zealand, operating on a premise of affordable luxury delivered using the latest technology.

 

“I’m also very proud of the eco-conscious initiatives we have in place for every aspect of the operation.”

 

MIPAD Holdings Ltd is a joint venture between Lewis and experienced hotel investment and development company TJK NZ Ltd, owner of luxury boutique hotels The George in Christchurch and Regent of Rotorua.

 

TJK NZ CEO Stephen Borcoskie said the company had a proud pedigree of leadership in, and commitment to, the New Zealand hotel industry.

 

“Our goal is to always exceed customer expectations by excelling in service delivery, and we’re thrilled to be entering the Queenstown market which consistently leads the way in delivering world-class experiences and lifelong memories to visitors from around the globe.

 

“It makes perfect sense to open a unique property like this in Queenstown.”

 

Hotel manager Kylie Hogan has 20 years’ experience in international resort management.

“We’re offering an innovative, connected hotel experience for smart travellers who’d prefer to spend their hard-earned dollars on experiences rather than pay over the odds for accommodation,” she says.

“We appreciate that they want to keep in touch with family, friends, or colleagues whether they’re here to ski their hearts out, check out bike trails, enjoy some world-class golf or award-winning wines.

“mia’s the key to all of that, the complete package for guests who want to have fun like a local.”

The hotel hasn’t forgotten the basics of ensuring guests get a great night’s sleep, with Queen beds, clever storage options, smart TV’s and bathrooms featuring organic products and top-of-the-line hair styling tools.

Guests can have as much or as little interaction with mi-pad staff and other guests as they like, including the option to share experiences, photos or messages through mia’s private chat group.

A floor-to-ceiling ‘social wall’ in the hotel’s entrance lobby also features mia’s latest updates and guests shared experiences.

Although there are snacks and breakfast options available within the hotel, mi-pad’s owners made a conscious decision to keep F&B services to a minimum to encourage guests to savour the town’s renowned eateries.

But if they prefer to order-in or BYO, the hotel’s best kept secret is its huge rooftop terrace with an outdoor fireplace, plentiful seating and wraparound 270-degree views of Lake Wakatipu and surrounding mountains.

The terrace is exclusively available to guests and is the perfect spot to enjoy an outdoor dining experience or luscious wine with some of the best views in town.

To unlock the key to the full mi-pad experience, book online at www.mipadhotels.com

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