Accolades come thick and fast for Ziptrek Ecotours

The accolades are flowing thick and fast for the team at Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours.

Last Thursday (October 24) Trent Yeo won the PATA New Zealand Trust Emerging Tourism Leader Award in the prestigious New Zealand Tourism Awards, recognising his work as an outstanding tourism professional.

And last Friday (October 25) Ziptrek Sales Executive Kenny Wynter was announced as the only Queenstown-based member on the seven-strong YoungTEC Executive team for 2020.

YoungTEC is an arm of the Tourism Export Council which offers support, education and networking opportunities to young tourism professionals.

Trent says his award, while recognising his achievements in setting up the pioneering zipline company in tandem with multiple roles in industry organisations, events and working groups throughout New Zealand, could not have been achieved without his ‘team’.

“The tourism leader award isn’t just about me; it recognises the hard work of all the crew, past and present, who have contributed so much in the almost ten years we’ve been in operation,” he says.

Ziptrek Ecotours is a recognised leader in business innovation, eco-tourism and sustainable business practice, and Trent says the award could not have come at a better time for the business and the industry as a whole.

“Entering the award brought into sharp focus how much time and effort I’ve put not only into  Ziptrek but into the wider industry,” he says. “I’m really excited to be at the peak of my career when the New Zealand tourism industry is moving so strongly towards developing our sustainability on a global scale.”

The judges recognised Trent’s ability and commitment to go beyond his own business and demonstrate what they called “great examples of transformational leadership”, impressed with giving his time and generosity to the industry at the same time as the business recorded excellent achievements.

They also praised his entrepreneurial approach and innovation, and his dedication to responsible and sustainable tourism.

Meanwhile, Kenny said he was “excited to contribute, collaborate, learn and listen” in his role on the YoungTEC executive to continue to improve on New Zealand’s unique tourism offering.

New YoungTEC executive team member Kenny Wynter of Ziptrek Ecotours

He began his tourism journey by studying for a degree in International Tourism Management, and his passion for social licence meant his dissertation explored Corporate Social Responsibility.

After graduating he was naturally drawn to work for Ziptrek Ecotours, giving him an introduction to the world of eco-tourism. After working for them for a year, he left to gain international experience before returning to Ziptrek in 2017.

“I’ve been working to spread the word about their stance as the pioneers in eco-exhilaration ever since,” he says.

His other industry roles include being a member of the BYATA steering group for Queenstown, taking issues and initiatives to a national level, and also being an active member of Queenstown Young Professionals.

Multi-award-winning Zipline Ecotours is celebrating ten years in business this year, as the pioneers of ziplining and eco-tourism in New Zealand.

For a little more on Trent, check out this awesome Destination Queenstown clip:

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Villas among the vines – luxury Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa opens in December

Villas among the vines – luxury Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa opens in December

Central Otago’s most exciting luxury offering is on final countdown to opening.

Located in the heart of Central Otago’s founding winery, Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa will offer the ultimate in relaxed luxury, fine wine, culinary excellence and 5-star personal service.

In just over two months, its doors will swing open to reveal a stunning architecturally-designed lodge complete with striking feature fireplace, soaring ceiling, sun-filled conservatory, al fresco dining area, an exclusive restaurant and a Lodge Cellar overflowing with historic vintages.

With a locally-sourced schist stone exterior mirroring the rugged Central Otago environment, Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa will be firmly planted in the vineyard’s rich history.

The world-class luxury accommodation experience is oozing with sophistication, sleek interior and exterior design, accompanied by lush landscaping and peaceful water features.

Twenty-four beautiful, sumptuously comfortable and modern villas are nestled just above the first vineyard block ever planted in the valley, in perfect view of the vines and distinctive Central Otago landscape on adjacent hills.

A secluded on-site spa will be a luxurious retreat for health, beauty and wellbeing, offering a serene, relaxing environment for a range of indulgences including – fittingly – vinotherapy treatments.

Gibbston Valley Winery CEO Greg Hunt says the Lodge & Spa gives guests the opportunity to connect with the land and the winery experience on another level.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have created a totally unique and completely enriching new experience for guests,” he says.

“It’s more than just unwinding among the vines – it’s about exploring the vineyard and gaining an intimate, deeper understanding of the behind-the-scenes workings of a world-class winery to a degree that’s not available anywhere else in the world.

“Going at their own relaxed pace, guests will be able to take the time to indulge in outstanding food and wine and really experience Gibbston Valley in all her glory.”

A highlight of the Lodge experience will be the opportunity to sample exquisite cuisine, carefully created to pair beautifully with premium, handcrafted Gibbston Valley Wines.

The exclusive Lodge menu is the brainchild of renowned Chef Anthony Gradiska, guided by the seasons and fresh produce grown in his Chef’s Gardens scattered around the Lodge and Spa buildings.

Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa is set to have a distinct sustainability focus, going to great efforts to do away with single-use products and introducing eco-conscious options throughout the entire operation.

The diversification of the vineyard has been an involved four-year planning project to ensure all elements of the Lodge & Spa meld seamlessly with the iconic look and feel of Gibbston Valley and the 30-year-old winery.

Additional Lodge features include a small wine education theatre, private meeting rooms, and unique indoor and outdoor spaces for intimate boutique weddings.

Each villa, boasting a modern, sophisticated décor, open plan indoor living space and the latest technology, also features a secluded sun-washed courtyard surrounded by lush landscaping and a private covered deck with dining area.

As a matter of course, a selection of premium Gibbston Valley Wines personalized to guests’ preferences greet visitors on arrival.

Customised concierge services round out the experience by providing the very best advice and local knowledge on wine tasting, cycle tours, walking tracks and packages for activities on-site and throughout the wider Central Otago region.

Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa is set on 1000-acres of privately-owned land, dotted with many kilometres of exclusive biking and walking trails. The Queenstown Trail, New Zealand’s most popular Great Ride, passes the property and provides access to over 130kms of off-road trails between Gibbston, Arrowtown and Queenstown.

Luxury experience packages available at Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa include the Wine Immersion, Food & Wine Indulgence, Relax & Revive, Romantic Escape and Ride the Vines.

Rates start at $825NZD per villa. For further information and bookings go to

 Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa – what you need to know

  • Villas feature 100m2 of private, open plan indoor living space
  • Bathrooms feature a large walk-in shower, separate feature tub and dual basins
  • Complimentary bike use included for guests
  • Private wine tastings and intimate dinners available in the Lodge Cellar
  • Seasonal à la carte restaurant menu
  • Exciting range of wining, dining and leisure activities on the doorstep
  • Shuttles available for guests into Arrowtown and Queenstown
  • Spa features three private treatment rooms, a sauna, secluded hot pools and small gym
  • Just 20 minutes from Queenstown’s International Airport
  • Lodge & Spa designed by Queenstown architects Wyatt + Gray
  • Villa design by Space Studios
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Tonnes of carrots for a good cause

Carrots, anyone?

A Queenstown company has 10 tonnes of organic carrots to give away to schools, charities and people in need, at two different locations in the lower South Island.

Organic Solutions owner James Porteous got his hands on the huge amount of BioGro certified organic carrots from Willowmere Organic Farm, a 300-acre property in Hororata, just outside Christchurch.

Organic Solutions often buys produce from the Canterbury farm, to supplement the 16 organic crops grown on its own organic Oamaru farm. But, in this case, Willowmere didn’t have time to sort through the tonnes of carrots picking out the good and getting rid of the bad, and were planning to dispose of the lot.

That’s where the Organic Solutions team came in. Once James found out they were destined for compost, he knew he could make something work. Willowmere offered him an amazing deal he couldn’t resist, and his staff soon began sorting through the carrots.

Traditionally Organic Solutions buys about one tonne of carrots a month, so the current haul is nearly a year’s worth all at once.

The carrots are currently for sale at Thai2Go Queenstown and Thai2Go Timaru, both owned by Organic Solutions, for the small price of $10 for 5kg. But schools, charities and people going through a tough time are being encouraged to pop in and pick some up for free.

“Because we have so many organic carrots available at once we want to offer them up to good causes,” says James. “This way they don’t go waste and it might brighten up someone’s day.

“Wasting food really goes against our ethos at Organic Solutions, so whatever we can’t use will be sent to our worm farm and turned into worm castings.”

Carrots will be used in both Thai takeaway locations and distributed to some Queenstown restaurants with which Organic Solutions has business relationships.

The bulk of the carrots are being stored in Oamaru and are available for the next few weeks in Queenstown and Timaru, if not sold or given away before then.

Carrots 101 – all you need to know

  • Carrots are one of the most sprayed and chemically grown crops in New Zealand
  • Organic carrots usually retail at $7.99 a kg because all weeding has to be done by hand
  • Carrots are about 10% carbs, consisting of starch, fibre and simple sugars
  • Extremely low in fat and protein
  • Excellent source of Vitamin A (beta carotene)
  • Linked to a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease
  • Improved eye health
  • Bugs Bunny loves them

Organic Solutions owns and operates Thai2Go Queenstown, Queenstown Wholefoods, Oamaru Organics, Thai2Go Timaru and Worms to Waste.

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Cancer Society Ball returns to Queenstown

After a three-year hiatus Queenstown’s local Cancer Society is bringing its annual fundraising ball back to life.

On November 23, the Queenstown Memorial Centre will wind back the clock to the 1920s for a Great Gatsby Ball raising funds for the charity.

The Cancer Society of New Zealand – Southland/Otago Division event is proudly sponsored by Naylor Love among a long list of other generous businesses.

Tickets cost $165pp and include a delicious dinner from local catering company Flying Trestles and complimentary refreshments, followed by an evening jam-packed with entertainment.

Cancer Society Event and Community Campaigns Co-ordinator Shantelle Cockroft-Gerken says it’s going to be a night to remember.

“There will be more than just a traditional ball and dinner – it’s going to be an evening bursting at the seams with divine food and amazing entertainment with an incredible line-up of local talent.

“We really hope the community rallies around us for this event because money raised goes straight back into Otago and Southland services, it’s not dispersed throughout the country.”

She says there’s already people enquiring about tables for end of year Christmas events.

A jazz band will kick off the evening followed by local stand-up comedian Hugo Huntington, comedy duo Wando and Simoe performing their interactive ‘magic’ show, music from RED Entertainment and a 1920s-style interactive, demonstration performance from Salsa Queenstown.

Cancer campaigner Blair Vining’s brother Shaun will speak during the night.

A selection of canapés and refreshments will be offered to guests at the beginning of the evening, followed by a banquet feast, finishing with a dessert platter. A cash bar will available on the night.

A range of items will be auctioned off including a premium economy return flight package to anywhere in Europe for two people, kindly donated by Singapore Airlines.

The ball runs from 7pm till late at the Queenstown Memorial Centre on November 23. Up to 23 tables of 10 are available, individual tickets $165, table of 10 $1650.

Tickets on sale from September 26 via Shantelle Cockroft-Gerken on [email protected]

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