International private equity company purchases iconic New Zealand-based tourism company

Media Release from Active Adventures

One of Australia’s fastest-growing funds management businesses has made its first investment into New Zealand reflecting its positive view on the country’s booming tourism sector.

A consortium led by Blue Sky Alternative Investments has bought Queenstown-based Active Adventures, a tourism company that offers fully-guided, all-inclusive small group adventures in New Zealand, Nepal, Europe and South America.

Following a lengthy sales process, a deal was completed on Tuesday August 1st.

It’s business as usual for the company’s 30 staff and 60 guides scattered around the world, although the sale is a significant step for the continued growth of the business.

Blue Sky’s private equity investment director Nick Miller and Blue Sky investment associate Ben Milton will join the Active Adventures board.

The Blue Sky consortium also includes Australian businessman Brett Godfrey, the former co-founder and CEO of Virgin Blue and current deputy chairman of Tourism Australia and Auckland Airport.

The final member of the investment consortium is New Zealand-born and Sydney-based Scott Malcolm, who has over 20 years’ experience in the investment banking industry in Australia and the USA. He founded independent corporate advisory firm Greenstone Partners in 2003 and is chairman of the CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Research Trust.

Immediately preceding the sale, the company’s three shareholders were Robin Wiseley, Phil Boorman and Michelle Trapski. Under the new partnership arrangement, Mr Boorman has divested his shares in the company, while Mr Wiseley and Ms Trapski retain a significant shareholding in Active Adventures. Mr Wiseley and Ms Trapski both join the new board.

Reflecting on the last few years in business, Mr Wiseley described it as “one of the most rewarding professional and personal experiences” he had ever had.

He said the new board was a highly passionate, motivated and skilled group with very impressive business and governance credentials.

“This new partnership will own and operate this company into the future, and it’s a very exciting future,” he said.

“Over the last four years we’ve enjoyed amazing growth, more than doubling our turnover, adding new destinations to our business and our new brand New Zealand Walking tours, launched in April.

“The company has grown to a point where we were able to attract the skills and investment capabilities of our new partners.

“Blue Sky has brought a very clever and passionate team of young professionals to the business. We have the right partners in the right company at the right time, when Active Adventures is poised to realise the next phase of its future growth potential.

“There are so many options in terms of growth through acquisition, development of new niche brands and potentially new offshore destinations.

“We’re very impressed with Blue Sky’s levels of integrity and attention to detail which is why we chose them as partners, and I’m very confident in Michelle and the incredible team we have built here to take the company into the future.”

“From a business perspective, this brings additional levels of governance and expertise to the table, but for clients nothing has changed. They will continue to experience the same level of hospitality, attention to detail and personalised service that Active Adventures is renowned for.”

Picture caption:

1/ Off the beaten track with Active Adventures

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New GM at Tekapo Springs brings a wealth of experience to the role

Media Release from Tekapo Springs

Tourism marketing strategist Anton Wilke is applying a wealth of experience in sales, marketing and general business management to his new role of General Manager at Tekapo Springs.

In a career spanning over 27 years, he’s built an enviable reputation in the competitive New Zealand tourism industry having worked within public organisations, corporate and self-employed tourism businesses.

And as the new GM at Tekapo Springs he says he’s “hugely excited” by the opportunity to work with the multi-award-wining South Island tourism attraction and its team of 45 staff.

Established more than a decade ago by owner Karl Burtscher, the pools, ice rink, snow tube park, café, day spa and now star gazing offering has grown into a key visitor attraction for Lake Tekapo and the McKenzie district.

Mr Wilke described his appointment at Tekapo Springs as “perfect timing”, with the introduction of star gazing tours earlier this year married with the launch of new pools for the complex putting Tekapo Springs firmly on the global tourism map.

“Destination Lake Tekapo is in the throes of moving to the next level and it’s a great time to be involved as we see new retail, attraction and accommodation developments planned in the village over the next few years,” he said.

“As GM, I’m running a business with five internal business units, each with its own manager, and ensuring we all go in the same direction at the same time delivering on our brand promise of ‘lifting your spirits’.

“We have some new and innovative ideas moving forward that will improve and expand on the current offer. As the tourism industry continues to grow, Tekapo Springs must be prepared to welcome more guests and provide a market relevant experience.”

Mr Wilke said that as the business developed, experiencing a longer year-round season than in the past, it faced the challenge of staff retention, as Tekapo is very small with limited accommodation.

“It’s something we’re acutely aware of and are working on strategies to relieve that issue,” he said.

“Developing business relationships on a district and regional basis is imperative for the ongoing success of our business.”

Mr Wilke’s background means he is uniquely placed to oversee the success of the five business units at Tekapo Springs.

His most recent roles include that of Managing Director of Tourism and Accommodation Marketing Services, MD of NZ Motel Marketing Ltd, and Sales and Marketing Manager at Canterbury’s Porters Ski area.

He is currently Vice Chairman of RTO Experience Mid Canterbury and has previously been Sales and Marketing Manager for Canterbury Tourism. He was also previously Commercial Manager at Rainbow Springs and Rainbow Farm Show in Rotorua, among other key industry roles.

Tekapo Springs owner Karl Burtscher said Mr Wilke’s extensive experience in the tourism industry could not be a better fit for the business.

“In recent years Tekapo Springs has made continued multi-million-dollar investments into two new pools and an aqua play area at the complex as well as launching star gazing tours in one of the world’s top ‘clear sky’ locations,” he said.

“We’re renowned for our innovation and continued business developments in order to remain at the forefront of ‘must-do’ activities for international and domestic visitors.

“Anton will help manage a cohesive approach to our business which has grown exponentially over the past four or five years in particular, and we welcome his passion and drive for New Zealand’s tourism industry.”

Tekapo Springs is a year-round attraction nestled on the shores of stunning Lake Tekapo, beloved by visitors from all around the globe and winner of multiple tourism awards.

Click here to visit Tekapo Springs website.

Picture caption:

1/ Tekapo Springs new General Manager Anton Wilke

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Gibbston Valley Wines celebrates diversity with sparkling bubbles

Media release from Gay Ski Week QT

Renowned Queenstown winery Gibbston Valley Wines is adding some real sparkle to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest Winter Pride event.

Wine lovers attending Gay Ski Week QT’s first ever Long Lunch event at the winery on September 6 will be treated to flutes of the winery’s limited release vintages Rosé Méthode Traditionelle and Blanc de Blanc Méthode Traditionelle.

With only 200 cases of each vintage crafted, it’s the first time the winery has held tastings of the ‘celebratory bubbles’.

The complimentary tasting, hosted by winemaker Matt Swirtz, will be a special start to a relaxed lunch at the famous Central Otago winery.

Winemaker Christopher Keys said the 2011 creation was made with “real care and patience”.

“With no time pressure to release the wine, the bottles have benefited from extended maturation which was critical in setting the quality,” he said.

“The wines are very gently pressed, have barrel fermentation, then 56 months in bottle. It’s produced with the best fruit, some very gentle winemaking, and a whole lot of time.

“We can’t wait for our LGBTQI guests to experience the richness, elegance and texture of our latest vintage Rosé and Blanc de Blanc Méthode Traditionelle.”

Hundreds of gay men and women are set to converge on Queenstown between September 2 and September 9 2017 to attend Gay Ski Week QT’s week-long festival, jam-packed with parties, cabarets, spring skiing, karaoke and much more.

Gay Ski Week QT Organiser Sally Whitewoods said Gibbston Valley Wines had become a pivotal supporter of the event.

“Gibbston Valley’s well-established and ever-growing brand is a perfect fit for us and we’re delighted to have worked in partnership with them for four years,” she said.

“Our event is set to be even bigger and better this year, and it’s exciting this year to have a specific focus on our region’s award-winning food and wine.

“The lunch is the perfect opportunity to take a mid-week break away from the hustle and bustle of Queenstown and I’m confident it will become a regular event on the GSWQT calendar.

“I’m sure these gorgeous bubbles will add just the right amount of sparkle to a long, lazy spring afternoon of superb food and stunning wines.”

Renowned as one of the finest dining experiences in the Queenstown region, Gibbston Valley Restaurant’s Central Otago wine and food experience features seasonal selections that match the freshest ingredients with award-winning wines.

Tickets for the lunch start from $135 per person including Mediterranean-inspired dishes and a glass of non-vintage bubbles on arrival. To book go to

Event tickets are available from the Gay Ski Week QT website and up-to-the-minute news can be found online at

Photo caption:

1/ Enjoy one of Central Otago’s finest wine and food experiences at Gay Ski Week QT

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Queenstown’s Five Mile retail centre “goes from strength to strength” with new retailers open and bus service coming soon

Media Release from Five Mile Retail and Business Centre

Queenstown’s newest and most exciting retail and business centre is going from strength to strength with the addition of new retailers and increased levels of business activity.

The recent New Zealand school holidays saw a marked increase in traffic to Five Mile, an expanding retail centre sitting at the gateway to Queenstown on the Frankton Flats.

Pizza chain Dominos — renowned for its high-quality pizzas, sides and chicken at an affordable price – opened in Five Mile Place last week with its second store in the Queenstown district.

Family clothing chain Postie Plus also opened at Five Mile over the holidays, offering its full range of women’s, men’s, children and beauty ranges, as well as school clothing and accessories.

At the other end of the spending spectrum, a full display suite for Remarkables Residences, a range of three to five-bedroom multi-storey townhouses, recently opened at Five Mile.

The homes will be built just minutes away from Five Mile in the expanding Frankton Flats zone. To cater for interest in the development, the display suite is open 10am to 4pm daily with local realtors Sheryl Williams and Mark Martin from Bayleys Queenstown available to meet potential buyers.

This week, American-based specialist gaming store EB Games is to open at Five Mile, bringing its unique brand of gamers pop culture to Queenstown for the first time.

EB Games and Zing Pop Culture Operations Manager Karl Pearson said he was thrilled to bring the store to Queenstown.

As the centre expands, it has welcomed news of a new public bus service to and from Five Mile which will enable visitors and locals to visit more frequently and at a heavily-subsidised price.

The proposed new service will be operated by the Queenstown Lakes District and Otago regional councils and is expected to start this spring. Buses will run every 15 to 30 minutes in peak times and an introductory $2 fare is to be trialled across all zones for GoCard users and a free transfer within 30 minutes.

For the first time, Five Mile will have its own bus stop on Grant Road, between the centre and the roundabout on State Highway 6. Route tracking is still being finalized but Five Mile is seen as “key” to the network as it sits on an arterial link within the Queenstown district. Three of the four routes are proposed to come via Five Mile.

Five Mile Centre Manager Eric Nauta said the bus service would be very welcome as the centre had been “choc-a-bloc” since the school holidays.

“The centre’s now a hive of activity with outdoor parking at a premium over peak periods, although the hundreds of free, fully lit and warm underground car parks are something of a ‘locals hack’ for those in the know.

“We’ve certainly noticed that ever since Dominoes opened there’s been a stream of people venturing into other businesses while they wait for their pizzas!”

Anchor tenants The Warehouse and Countdown have also helped draw visitors to the centre.

Countdown opened in stage one close to two years ago along with retail outlets previously unseen in Queenstown such as Briscoes, Rebel Sports, Warehouse Stationary and Number One Shoes. Countdown is open from 7am to 10pm daily, while the country’s largest retail giant The Warehouse, open until midnight daily, opened at the end of March.

The Warehouse opened with a new store that was 25% bigger than its previous location, offering customers a wider range of goods and services, improved flexibility and longer opening hours.

Five Mile currently has 31 retail outlets and nine office-based businesses, and continues to expand.

Businesses are as diverse as insurance giant AMI, hairdressers Hair On Five Mile, the Five Mile Pharmacy, Café Society, Hikari Sushi, Helloworld, Noel Leeming and the recently-expanded Bed, Bath & Beyond.

For locals and workers at Five Mile there’s the convenience of a childcare centre, a health store and juice bar for those keeping fit and well, two physiotherapists, laundromat, dry cleaner and even a nail bar.

“Five Mile really does have something for everyone,” said Mr Nauta. “It’s an enjoyable and relaxed shopping experience, centrally located and with over 1000 free car parks, a true ‘one-stop-shop’ for locals and visitors.

“The good news is that it continues to expand with more outlets opening and a further development stage expected to start later this year.”

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