Young Landscaper of the Year and national awards medal bonanza for Southern Landmarx

Queenstown landscaping company Southern Landmarx had a glittering night at the Landscapes of Distinction Awards in Christchurch over the weekend.

Queenstown landscaping company Southern Landmarx had a glittering night at the Landscapes of Distinction Awards in Christchurch over the weekend.

Not only did they bring home an outstanding three gold and three silver medals for two Cromwell-based landscape projects, but their Operations Manager Tama Ritter won New Zealand Young Landscaper of the Year.

Southern Landmarx directors Jaye and Joe Nutting paid tribute to the “hard work and determination” shown by Tama in winning the national title.

“We’re all extremely proud of him after he came to us seven years ago knowing nothing about landscaping, but he’s worked his way up from an apprentice to the top,” said Jaye.

Tama, 28, said he had found his day of practical tests, a speech and interviews, up against 12 other competitors, “a bit nerve wracking and daunting.”

He won two Outstanding Achievement awards in Career Development and Communications before he was named the overall winner at the gala dinner presentation.

“It was such a surprise to hear my name being called out and it still hasn’t really sunk in, to be honest,” he said. “But I see it as confirmation of how far I have come in the industry, and it’s the cherry on top of all the hard work over the years.

“I love landscaping because it isn’t just one skillset, it’s such a wide variety of work. Each project has new and interesting challenges.

“You take a ‘blank’ landscape around some awesome houses and then the visual aspect of what we add is huge. It’s like dressing the house so it’s shown off to its full advantage, maximising the landscape and its surrounds.”

Southern Landmarx faced stiff competition from a record number of entries from all around New Zealand for the landscape awards.

The company won an impressive two gold medals in landscape construction and landscape horticulture for its Clutha River Views entry, as well as a silver for design. It also won a gold medal in landscape construction for its Dunstan Vista residence along with two silvers for design and horticulture.

Jaye and Joe said it was a “fantastic acknowledgement” of the hard work that had gone into the two properties by their 16-strong team.

“We also want to acknowledge the vision and dedication of the owners and their collaborative approach which has enabled us to do so well across these three key residential landscape categories,” said managing director Joe.

“We’re thrilled to win these awards which recognise and celebrate the high-quality design and construction of our work, and our ability to use plants that have been locally raised and ‘hardened off’ in our Cromwell-based Burn Cottage Nursery.”

Joe said the Clutha River Views project was a “particularly inspiring” garden to work on due to the owners’ desire to incorporate an historical element into a new build, integrating elements of their past home to which they had an emotional attachment following the Christchurch earthquakes.

The Dunstan Vista project was inspired by family, meeting not only the needs of the clients but their grandchildren. For that reason it incorporated an expansive lawn for the children to play, a pool area for the heat of summer and a unique, peaceful seating area away from the main home where the owners could relax while soaking up the views.

For more information about Southern Landmarx go to www.slx.co.nz

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Lake Hawea sections hit the market at Longview

One of the most eagerly-awaited developments in the ‘hot’ Queenstown Lakes property market has hit the market this week.

One of the most eagerly-awaited developments in the ‘hot’ Queenstown Lakes property market has hit the market this week.

Universal Developments has released the first tranche of sections at Longview in Lake Hawea, meaning offers can be made now.

Just 55 bare sections are being released on the 35ha development for 2021, on a stunning piece of land that’s just three minutes from the Lake Hawea water’s edge and a short drive from Wanaka.

Section prices start at $239,000 and are being marketed as ideal for first-home buyers, many of whom are struggling to get on the property ladder in the current market, retirees and those looking for the perfect holiday home.

Lake Hawea is renowned for its recreational opportunities including boating, mountain biking, kayaking and walking. Access to Wanaka’s world-renowned ski areas is less than an hour’s drive away.

The Wanaka and Lake Hawea areas are among the fastest growing in the country – just recently a plan to develop a massive film park on the outskirts of Wanaka was hailed as a “game-changer”. Silverlight Studioshas been given Government approval to apply under special Covid-19 legislation for a fast-tracked consent application to build film studios, production offices and a film and technology school.

Harcourts Wanaka agents Eamon and Riki Young say that in a fast-moving property market, buying land off the plan might just be the smartest way to make the most of record low interest rates and stake a claim in the Queenstown Lakes real estate market.

With some of the most affordable sections and packages in the Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes districts, the area is being seen as a future satellite township for Wanaka and Eamon Young believes it won’t take long for land to be snapped up.

Affordable land and home packages will also be available with a range of local building companies lining up to work on options for buyers ranging from $499,000 to $549,000, $599,000 and $650,000, all under the ceiling for the Home Start Grant. There are also packages above the $650,000 figure.

Ten group homebuilders will each have a show home in a dedicated precinct at the subdivision.

“We’re already seeing strong interest in the initial release, and as it’s first-come first-served, those quick off the mark can choose their section and get underway with building their dream home,” says Eamon.

Longview has consent in place for a childcare centre and for a commercial building containing a licensed café, offices and commercial tenancies. It also features two large reserves and children’s playground.

Titles on the first sections are expected in April 2022. All enquiries can be directed to [email protected].

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Millbrook Resort forges ahead with investment in new development

Queenstown’s Millbrook Resort is forging ahead with substantial investment plans as it works towards opening nine new golf holes later this year.

Queenstown’s Millbrook Resort is forging ahead with substantial investment plans as it works towards opening nine new golf holes later this year.

In a boost to New Zealand golf tourism, a $4million-plus infrastructure investment is aimed at enhancing the five star resort’s guest experience in preparation for the launch of its 36-hole golf offering.

In addition to the resort’s existing 27-holes, the new nine golf holes recently constructed will make Millbrook one of only two golf courses in New Zealand to offer two distinctly different 18-hole courses.

Golf construction works start March 2021 on a new practice putting green near the golf shop and reception building, along with the reconfiguration of tees on the Remarkables No. 1 hole. This work makes way for the construction of new golf cart storage barns and cart wash-down facilities.

A 25m-wide tree lined boulevard will be created between the new cart barns and golf shop, which has been designed as a shared space for pedestrians, golf carts and vehicles from the reception area towards The Spa, Health & Fitness Centre and the new Coronet golf course.

The golf shop will also receive major alterations and renovations including French doors opening out onto a new deck towards the starters area, and new retail fit-out.

An improved arrival court adjacent to the reception building will create a larger, safer and easier to navigate forecourt with views over the new practice putting green and towards The Remarkables. Significant hard and soft landscaping improvements designed by Baxter Design and a new porters’ shed complete improvements in this area.

Millbrook’s Director of Property and Development Ben O’Malley says the latest project is part of continued planned investment in resort development and improvements.

Work is nearly complete on the $50m development of the Mill Farm area of Millbrook which houses the new golf holes and two residential neighbourhoods. The 67-hectare site will be home to what Millbrook believes to be the highest commercial golf tee in the country at 480 metres above sea level.

“We continue to invest in the resort’s long-term future and the timing could not be better to carry out this work in the build-up to next summer and the 2022 New Zealand Open,” he says.

“With a carefully planned work sequence we don’t anticipate the work will have any major impact on our visitors, golfers and members but we very much appreciate their patience while it’s underway.”

Work is anticipated to be completed in December this year.

A video of the new Mill Farm development is here.

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Ziptrek Ecotours takes eco-education to new heights 

Ziptrek Ecotours aims to educate and inspire New Zealand’s leaders of tomorrow towards long-term environmental and sustainable practices with a pioneering new eco-education outdoor learning programme in Queenstown.

Ziptrek Ecotours aims to educate and inspire New Zealand’s leaders of tomorrow towards long-term environmental and sustainable practices with a pioneering new eco-education outdoor learning programme in Queenstown.

The company is using its architecturally designed treehouses and ziplines high on Bob’s Peak as an ‘outdoor classroom’ to showcase sustainable tourism at work and how businesses can future-proof for environmental, social and financial success.

The interactive eco-education programme is primarily aimed at tertiary students, career advisors and educators and is a practical ‘take’ on the STEM curriculum of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.  Tours are custom-designed to align with each group’s academic requirements.

Science is covered off with discussions on Ziptrek’s biodiversity, introduced species and Predator Free 2050 support as well as its work in becoming a Carbon Zero business. Technology talks to the systems and design used to streamline Ziptrek’s business, such as remote area solar energy powering cameras and gates, while the structural design benefits and challenges of the treehouses and ziplines is a must for engineers. Maths is applied to the metrics measuring Ziptrek’s business and the physics and cable design in ziplines.

The two-hour experience starts from $49 per person and includes a tailored talk by one of the team, a site exploration, and a zip down the world’s steepest tree to tree zipline – dropping 30 storeys in 10 seconds at speeds of up to 70kmph.   There are also options to upgrade to either the four-line Moa Tour or premium six-line Kea tour.

The outdoor learning initiative aligns with Ziptrek’s deep commitment to education, sustainability and conservation.   It forms part of its ongoing work under New Zealand’s Tourism Sustainability Commitment and the Future-Fit framework, a global and open-sourced sustainability framework relating to UN development goals.

Other initiatives within its education programme include a Paper4Trees recycling project with pre-schools and schools, and Queenstown Resort College internships.

Ziptrek executive director Trent Yeo believes that while COVID-19 has created opportunity for a tourism reset and renewed focus on sustainability, more education is needed to achieve New Zealand’s vision to lead the world in sustainable tourism.

“We hope our new eco-education tour will help inform, inspire and empower New Zealand’s leaders of tomorrow to think more deeply about doing business in a way that creates long-term value for our people, our economy and our environment,” he says.

“Our tour turns theory into practice through ‘outside the classroom’ learning and helps participants experience first-hand some of the exciting and innovative career pathways within the tourism industry.

“We also demonstrate how our business decisions, centred around making the right call for the environment and our community, have translated into a world-class adventure experience and sustainable tourism business.”

Early uptake on the programme has proven successful with several tertiary institutions, including ARA Institute of Canterbury and the Auckland-based Crown Institute of Studies, which provides training in travel and tourism hospitality, health and wellbeing, business and computing, giving it rave reviews.

“I’ve heard from all the career advisors and teachers who experienced your programme that your company is inspirational and futuristic,” says Dr Josephine Do, Managing Director of Crown Institute of Studies.

Career/education advisors from Southland Careers and Transition Education (CATE) also visited recently to better understand employment possibilities for young people from their region, careers in the tourism sector and how places like Queenstown are adapting in response to a COVID world.

The programme’s been welcomed by regional tourism body Destination Queenstown which also presents to visiting groups.

“Ziptrek is one of many Queenstown operators which has thought outside the square to develop new and exciting programmes and product in the aftermath of Covid,” says DQ acting General Manager Ann Lockhart.

“We’re fully supportive of their education initiative, especially as this helps us demonstrate that there IS a future in tourism for our young people, with exciting and innovative career pathways in the industry. We have some of the best tourism operators in the country running businesses here.”

For more information about tour options visit www.ziptrek.co.nz/groups/

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Iconic high-country station in heart of South Island comes onto market

An high-country farms in the heart of the South Island’s spectacular Aoraki Mt Cook region is coming onto the open market.

One of the most iconic high-country farms in the heart of the South Island’s spectacular Aoraki Mt Cook region is coming onto the open market.

Set in the expansive Mackenzie Basin on the shores of Lake Pukaki, Irishman Creek Station, a standout 8678ha property, is home to a profitable farming operation, has substantial potential for future tourism development and is revered worldwide as the birthplace of the Hamilton Jet.

Located 16km south of Lake Tekapo, the spectacular asset includes over 6000ha of freehold land with two additional leasehold blocks, a significant percentage of freehold land compared to many other high-country stations in the district.

It was one of the last farms to be issued consent for water irrigation within the Mackenzie Basin, with water sourced from the Tekapo B hydro canal, and the current owners have made significant investment into farming infrastructure.

The farm spans across State Highway 8 to the lake and is completely accessible by vehicle, a rarity in a property of this scale.

Using sustainable practice methods, the farm produces some of the country’s finest beef, deer and Merino wool products, generating its own feed and stock.  Further investment into hydro and solar power would enable it to be completely off-grid.

In the early 1950’s Irishman Creek Station made its mark in international history as home to the development of the Hamilton Jet Boat and many other engineering feats by previous owner Sir Bill Hamilton.

Accommodation, farm experiences and Hamilton Jet museum visits already attract domestic and international tourists to the station, although new owners could further develop the tourism portfolio with potential to build a new homestead or lodge adjacent to the glacial blue waters of Lake Pukaki.

Marketing the commercial sale of the station including the thriving business are leading NAI HarcourtsWanaka agents Guy and Sheryl Alty.

“We are privileged and proud to bring such a rare and outstanding property to market, a spectacular and strategic asset for any buyer,” says Sheryl.

Tenders on the property close at 4pm on Friday March 5 2021 and it’s expected to attract interest from Kiwis, syndicates, an existing landholder looking to add to their portfolio, expats or overseas buyers.

“A very limited number of landholdings of this size and scale, incorporating a profitable farming operation and substantial potential for future development, ever come to the open market,” says Guy Alty.

“Someone with a vision and a passion for this undeniably beautiful piece of land will be our buyer. There are many options for a new owner to explore, potentially an existing landowner or farmer looking to add to their portfolio and increase stock numbers, or an entrepreneurial business catering to the tourism market with a long-term plan to maximise its potential.

“Irishman Creek Station is strategically positioned to further capitalise on all this region has to offer and Sheryl and I welcome all enquiries.”

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Kiwi hospitality businesses ‘chomping at the bit’ to invest in food safety technology

A Queenstown company is going from strength to strength with its food safety app as New Zealand’s hospitality sector continues to invest in digital tools to achieve greater efficiency and sustainability.

A Queenstown company is going from strength to strength with its food safety app as New Zealand’s hospitality sector continues to invest in digital tools to achieve greater efficiency and sustainability.

The Kiwi-owned and operated ‘Chomp’ app – which launched in 2016 — is increasing its reach with thousands of restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, aged care and retail operators signed up around New Zealand.

Streamlining compliance is a priority for the food service industry and despite disruptions created by the pandemic, uptake of the app continues to grow.

Chomp’s work in the sector has been recognised — late last year Chomp founder Paul Wilson was highly commended by the Ministry of Primary Industries for his work on food safety processes in the Significant Contribution to Food Safety Award category.

The easy-to-use app reduces administration time and simplifies compliance for chefs, kitchen staff and business owners, ensuring they are always audit-ready.

Paperwork is (literally) a thing of the past.

Chomp’s automated features include real-time status of food safety tasks, the ability to update the statutory business Food Control Plan at any time, training and maintenance reminders, and easy-to-access reporting to help with decision-making and improvements.

The app’s been developed with industry professionals to ensure it meets all legislative requirements of the New Zealand and Australian Food Safety Acts (FSANZ), both current and planned. Auditors have found it particularly helpful as it streamlines paper recording.

When signing up for Chomp, businesses go through a simple onboarding process which makes them fully digital within an hour.  A support team of Kiwi-based hospitality professionals provides one-on-one training and year-round support.

Queenstown-based Chomp founder Paul Wilson, with more than 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, says his motivation for developing Chomp was believing “there had to be a better way” to stay ahead of food safety requirements, training and paperwork.

“Being in the industry ourselves we knew full well the time and energy it takes businesses to stay compliant.  With the increasing requirements of the Food Act we spent a lot of time just ensuring our records were up to date and accurate.

“We developed Chomp as a ‘by industry, for industry’ app and we’re thrilled to hear the difference it’s making to our colleagues. It effectively eliminates years of paperwork in a flash and is a game-changer in efficiency and sustainability.

“Our clients have moved from time-intensive paper-based food control plans to simple, streamlined digital plans which makes passing a yearly audit a far less time-consuming and stressful exercise.

“We were delighted to be highly commended at the MPI awards for our significant contribution to food safety and are working hard on further innovations and partnerships. Opportunities and developments coming up this year are really exciting.”

Most importantly, chefs who have worked with Chomp become ‘Chompions’.

“When they move from one kitchen to another they take Chomp with them like they’d take a great set of knives,” laughs Paul. “They’re our greatest advocates.”

For more information about Chomp please visit www.chomp.nz.

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Christmas property rush – $70m of sales in two days for Gibbston Valley development

Over $70million in sales have been notched up in two days for homes and sections in Queenstown’s idyllic Gibbston Valley.

Over $70million in sales have been notched up in two days for homes and sections in Queenstown’s idyllic Gibbston Valley.

Record levels of enquiry came from around New Zealand, Australia and the US for properties in a $750million luxury development at Gibbston Valley Station, within hours of them hitting the market.

Fifteen properties were put under contract on day one, with a further 30-plus properties put on hold by buyers yesterday (Tuesday December 22).

Would-be buyers are already snapping up a further 20 properties in Release Three, put on the market at short notice to meet the unprecedented level of demand.

The luxury development has already attracted high-profile buyers including former prime minister Sir John Key, cricket star Brendon McCullum and former professional rugby player, referee and Fiji coach Glen Jackson.

The 1000-acre station development is located on Gibbston Valley Station, co-owned by Gibbston Valley Winery, Lodge and Spa CEO Greg Hunt and US-based Phil Griffiths. Its nestled in one of Central Otago’s finest wine-growing regions set between craggy mountain ranges and the fast-flowing Kawarau River.

The homes range in price from $1.35m plus GST for a two-bedroom architecturally-designed 125m2 property to $4.5m plus GST for a stunning two-storey four-bedroom home.

Harcourts Queenstown agent Hamish Walker, who is marketing the development, says buyers have been emailing, facetiming and calling into the early hours of the morning to secure a property.

“The Harcourts team and I have never experienced anything like this, and that’s no exaggeration.

“We’ve been working 22-hour-plus days to keep up with demand and ensure we respond to buyers who clearly are keen to gift themselves the ultimate Christmas present!”

All available properties are on the market this afternoon with a hold put on further releases due to the heavy demand.

Former Prime Minister John Key, one of the first to sign up for a property, says he’s “unsurprised” by the level of sales.

“This is a very, very unique product and I can see why kiwis are flocking to this,” he says.

Glen Jackson even managed to put his name down on a property from the confines of his quarantine hotel.

“I’m stoked to get the news after hearing back from Hamish about 3am on Wednesday morning who said I’d successfully managed to put a property on hold under my name. I’m quite stoked to be honest; it’s made my quarantine period much better!”

Harcourts Queenstown managing director Warwick Osborne says the levels of demand have taken seasoned real estate professionals by surprise.

“It just goes to show that there is a pent-up demand out there for properties of quality in an outstanding natural location, especially in a country which is perceived as a safe haven in these difficult times.”

The station will include access to a nine-hole golf course, a country club and spa, wellness centre, restaurant, gym and a village with artisan shops, café and garden centre.

The first stage of the development is a collection of more than 110 homes called The Vines, directly across the road from the Gibbston Valley Winery.

Greg Hunt says the resort is the realisation of a long-term development plan with his vision for Gibbton Valley.

“We’ve been working towards this for ten years and looking forward to the start of construction.”

He says he is “pleased” by the early level of interest and sales for the station’s resort community with sustainability and healthy living at the heart of everything on offer.

“We are thrilled that so many others have already committed to the vision of what we plan to offer here.”

The Vintners Village on the development is planned to become a central hub not only for visitors but Gibbston residents.

Buyer enquiries should be directed to Hamish Walker on [email protected]

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Gibbston Valley development attracts ‘unprecedented’ levels of interest

Homes and sections in a multi-million-dollar “piece of paradise” in Queenstown’s idyllic Gibbston Valley have attracted “unprecedented” levels of enquiry since launching this week.

Homes and sections in a multi-million-dollar “piece of paradise” in Queenstown’s idyllic Gibbston Valley have attracted “unprecedented” levels of enquiry since launching this week.

Would-be buyers from all around New Zealand and expats looking to secure a future home in a 1000-acre station nestled in one of Central Otago’s finest wine-growing regions have had the phones running hot in the past 36 hours since hitting the market.

The $750 million luxury development has already attracted interest from high-profile buyers including former prime minister Sir John Key, cricket star Brendon McCullum and other well-known sportspeople.

The project is located on Gibbston Valley Station, co-owned by Gibbston Valley Winery, Lodge and Spa CEO Greg Hunt and US-based Phil Griffiths.

Property buyers to date are overwhelmingly from Auckland, with others being kiwis based in the US and East Coast Australians.

Set between craggy mountain ranges and the fast-flowing Kawarau River, the homes range in price from $1.25m plus GST to $4.5m plus GST.

Harcourts Queenstown managing director Warwick Osborne says the company is delighted to work with the owners of a development of this scale and quality.

“It’s the first type of resort of this nature seen in New Zealand for many years,” he says.

Harcourts Queenstown agent Hamish Walker, who is marketing the development, says buyers are “flocking to quality”.

“We almost can’t keep up with the level of enquiry that’s coming through, with buyers attracted to the scale and location of what’s on offer, and pricing that’s meeting the market when overall demand is at an all-time high.

“The first release of fifteen properties were snapped up within the first day of going on the market worth $25m plus in contracts going out the door. Release Two isn’t going to last long at this rate with 20 more two, three and four-bedroom properties available. People need to get in touch now if they want to take advantage of this opportunity.

“Buyers are also attracted to the flexibility of the offering, with the ability to live in these homes with this amazing playground on their doorstep and rent them out when they wish via the resort.”

The station will include access to a nine-hole golf course, a country club and spa, wellness centre, restaurant, gym and a village with artisan shops, café and garden centre.

The first stage of the development will be a collection of 132 homes called The Vines, directly across the road from the Gibbston Valley Winery. A retreat lodge is also planned for another part of the station, containing 20 units.

Greg Hunt says the resort is the realisation of a long-term development plan, with zoning granted 12 months ago for the golf course and resort. Building is anticipated to start in 2022.

“We’re building so much more than a resort here,” he says. “We have always had a vision to create a community where friends and families can gather to create memories and share experiences.

“Sustainability and healthy living are also key to what we will offer, with homeowners and visitors able to learn about the process of winemaking from bud to bottle, and have easy access to the Gibbston walking and cycling trail as well as new trails we plan to develop.

“The Vintners Village will become a central hub not only for visitors but Gibbston residents.”

Buyer enquiries should be directed to Hamish Walker on [email protected]

 

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Turning over a new leaf – from tourism to tea

An international tourism company based in Queenstown has brewed up a new business idea, turning its hand to artisan tea.

An international tourism company based in Queenstown has brewed up a new business idea, turning its hand to artisan tea.

Impact Escapes, which provided bespoke, off-the-beaten track tours in Sri Lanka pre-Covid, has launched Impact Tea, sourcing its produce from the tea estates it used to tour with visitors.

Co-founders Alex Musgrave and Sally Miller are the only suppliers of this type of small batch, artisan tea in New Zealand, which is hand-picked and hand-rolled in Sri Lanka.

“Sadly we’re not able to show Kiwis Sri Lanka at the moment, so we’re now bringing a taste of Sri Lanka to New Zealand thanks to the contacts we already had with growers,” Alex says.

The tea leaves come from four distinctly different estates, which rather than being blended together are all sold separately, making them a high-end tea-lovers dream, a ‘single estate tea’.

“In much the same way that people are now buying artisan beer or single-estate wines, there’s growing appreciation for fine tea,” says Alex.

“The flavours are guided by the weather and change slightly depending on the season, unlike highly processed and blended tea. Tea connoisseurs can definitely taste the difference.”

Impact Tea is selling pure Ceylon tea, which is notoriously difficult to source in New Zealand.

Alex and Sally were struck by the idea for Impact Tea not only to support themselves in a post-Covid world, but also the estate owners, workers and friends in Sri Lanka.

The estates they work with are owned and managed ethically, including fair and proper payment and treatment for staff.

“It was our top priority to work with ethically managed and run estates and thanks to our already-existing relationships, we were able to ensure that happened. We’re happy to continue to support these small operators in Sri Lanka,” says Alex.

Impact Tea works in partnership with the Tea Leaf Trust, which provides education and educational facilities to estate workers and their children.

“Every sip of Impact Tea connects the drinker to the picker and helps improve their lives and the area they live in. It’s the ultimate win-win,” says Alex.

Loose leaf Impact Tea can be purchased online or in select Queenstown stores and markets.

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Spectacular ‘green weddings’ inspire couples to eco-elope to Queenstown

It is the ultimate in love, sustainability and adventure. A group of Queenstown businesses have teamed up to create dream ‘green wedding’ packages to help New Zealand-based couples tie the knot in unique and inspiring ways this summer.

It is the ultimate in love, sustainability and adventure. A group of Queenstown businesses have teamed up to create dream ‘green wedding’ packages to help New Zealand-based couples tie the knot in unique and inspiring ways this summer.

And to celebrate the launch of the initiative, the wedding collective is running a ‘Tell Us Your Love Story’ competition which will culminate in one lucky couple winning a Forest Eco-Elopement wedding package worth nearly $6,000.

The competition will invite couples to enter to win an ‘eco-elopement’ in Queenstown between 1 February and 30 April 2021 (with blackout dates over Easter), allowing them to make the most of its spectacular scenery, world-class experiences and long summer and autumn days.

Sarah Arkin, of Simply Mindful Weddings, and Ziptrek Ecotours are leading the initiative and Mrs Arkin says they’re delighted to be working with other like-minded local businesses to share the love.

“We’re seeing couples wanting to be more mindful with their wedding plans and they are looking for smaller, more intimate, more affordable, and environmentally-conscious weddings that truly reflect who they are as a couple,” she says.

“In essence, couples are looking for ceremonies that have more meaning, and less waste.  Weddings don’t have to cost the earth, and we believe the focus should be on celebrating two people taking the next step on their journey together.”

Mrs Arkin says Simply Mindful Weddings has the experience to make peoples’ wedding dreams come true with over 10 years of planning Queenstown weddings, alongside a genuine commitment to sustainability and mindfulness with the packages on offer. Its community focus means they work with Queenstown owned and operated businesses that are “incredibly talented” at what they do and are excited to be leading the way towards a more sustainable wedding industry.

Ziptrek Ecotours Sales & Marketing Manager Nicky Busst believes the initiative is a “marriage made in heaven” for local businesses.

“A simple celebration of your love surrounded by nature and spectacular views creates a setting that can’t help but get you in the romantic mindset,” she says.

“We know this year has been tough for many couples around New Zealand and we want to help them bring their dream wedding to life here in Queenstown. Our treehouses provide unique staging platforms enabling a fun and affordable wedding while also caring for our environment and community.”

The ‘Tell Us Your Love Story’ competition launches on December 1 with entries closing at 4pm on December 10.  To enter, couples must reside in New Zealand and submit their love story, including why they think an eco-elopement would be perfect for them, via the Simply Mindful Weddings website.

The Eco Elopement prize package up for grabs includes:

  • A unique ceremony venue set high amongst the treetops on Bob’s Peak with stunning views over Queenstown made exclusively available by innovative zipline company Ziptrek Ecotours.  The happy couple will be whisked down their exhilarating treetop ziplines after they say ‘I Do’
  • A paperless ceremony personally crafted for each couple by Queenstown local celebrant Andrew Bell
  • A sustainable floral package, including a dried floral bridal bouquet and buttonhole or a seasonal fresh floral bridal bouquet and buttonhole locally foraged by The Flower Room
  • Organic, locally produced New Zealand bubbles for their first toast
  • Help with obtaining their marriage licence and providing two legally-required witnesses
  • A photography package for up to two hours of ceremony coverage and additional location photos, professionally edited and provided digitally by Rich Bayley Photography
  • Bespoke planning and ‘day of’ coordination by Simply Mindful wedding professionals to ensure no trace is left behind
  • Planting of New Zealand native trees in the couple’s name through conservation charity Trees That Count.

Competition entries will be reviewed and voted on collectively by all the prize package sponsors and the winning couple will be announced live via the Simply Mindful Instagram on December 11.

For more information about the Queenstown eco-elopement package, upgrade options and bespoke packages visit http://simplymindfulweddings.com/eco-elopements/forest/.

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50,000 salmon smolt released into Lake Tekapo

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon and Central South Island Fish & Game Council released 50,000 smolt into the crystal clear waters of Lake Tekapo last week.

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon and Central South Island Fish & Game Council released 50,000 smolt into the crystal clear waters of Lake Tekapo last week.

The young salmon, which are about two years old, were raised at the nearby Mt Cook Alpine Salmon Ohau hatchery on the Ohau Canal. Last week’s release was part of the Fish & Game Council’s “put and take” programme in Lake Tekapo, developed over the past 10 years.

Fish and Game officer Rhys Adams says the release will “reinvigorate” the salmon fishery in the lake, but they will need time to grow to between two and four pounds.

The tanker load of smolt was taken to the outlet of Lake McGregor on the western shore of Lake Tekapo for release.

“The last release was in 2018 and has proven successful with anglers reporting catches in the last spring to summer period,” he says.

“Anglers should pencil in the spring-summer of 2022 to target these hard-fighting fish.”

In the meantime, Lake Tekapo offers a great Rainbow and Brown trout fishery, married with some of the best scenery in New Zealand.

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon CEO David Cole said the gifting of smolt was part of the company’s policy of giving back to the fishing community.

“We have an excellent relationship with Fish & Game and are very happy to help sustain the Lake Tekapo Salmon fishery,” he says.

“We hope it will make up somewhat for the cancellation of the very popular Kids Salmon Fishing Competition because of COVID.”

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon Ltd farms Freshwater King Salmon in the South Canterbury hydro canals of the MacKenzie District. This special salmon is sought after for its clean subtle taste and delicate texture, in New Zealand and across the globe.

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NZONE Skydive celebrates thirty years in the sky

New Zealand’s first commercial tandem skydive operation is celebrating a milestone 30 years of operation this month.

New Zealand’s first commercial tandem skydive operation is celebrating a milestone 30 years of operation this month.

Three decades ago NZONE Skydive took to the skies in Queenstown, the home of adventure, thanks to the incredible vision of founders Robynne and Lindsay Williams.

Over the years its grown to become the world’s leading tandem skydive operation, giving more than 350,000 passengers to date the thrill of a lifetime, and with more to come.

Starting with just three staff members at its base in a paddock near Queenstown in October 1990, it grew year-on-year to become a world-renowned, multi-awarded adventure tourism operation.

Today it also operates Skydive Wanaka (the second-largest skydive company in New Zealand operating for 25 years) and Skydive Southern Alps. The company employed close to 200 staff in pre-COVID times and completed 60% of all tandem skydives in New Zealand.

Meeting the COVID challenge head on, NZONE Skydive is committed to keeping the doors open and retaining as many staff as possible.

“With a legacy of 30 years of operations under our belt as one of Queenstown’s pioneering adventure tourism companies we’re in a battle to survive,” says Skydive Queenstown General Manager Clark Scott.

“We’re celebrating our very special birthday with staff and customers, and over this summer and beyond we’ll continue to offer outstanding experiences to our domestic visitors and hopefully, in the near future, visitors from overseas.

“To all our customers, staff and key trade partners, we’d like to say a very heartfelt ‘Thank You’ for 30 years of incredible support. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

NZONE Skydive offers guests tandem skydives from 9000ft to 15000ft with up to 60 seconds freefall at speeds of 200 km/hour above some of the world’s most stunning scenery.

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