Turning over a new leaf – from tourism to tea

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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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