New Queenstown wine tour company will capitalise on booming industry

With local family and tourism connections dating back three generations, a Kiwi couple are looking to make their mark on the booming Queenstown wine tourism industry.

Husband-and-wife to be Emma Chisholm and Lee Saunders have launched Alpine Wine Tours, a new wine experience offering unique, personalised and ‘adult-only’ experiences for every wine-lover.

Central Otago’s wine tourism industry is heading into a boom period, following research by Tourism New Zealand and New Zealand winegrowers showing that around 25% of international tourists seek out a wine experience, (increasing to 42% for those who visit to cycle or play golf).

Wineries around the country are ramping up their tourism offerings as part of a strategy expected to see wine exports reach $2 billion annually by 2020, and Alpine Wine Tours says there’s never been a more exciting time to launch a new wine experience.

Alpine Wine Tours offers memorable group, private and custom wine and distillery tours from Queenstown, showcasing the unique wine and spirits of the region.

Co-owner Emma Chisholm is thrilled with how well received their new tours have been by locals and tourists.

“It’s been a huge success,” she says. “We saw a gap in the market for unique and personalised wine experiences in Queenstown and people’s initial reactions have been incredible.

“Our guests have nothing but positive things to say. We pride ourselves on providing good old-fashioned authentic Kiwi hospitality and I think that really resonates with people.

Emma and Lee are no strangers to the Queenstown tourism scene, as they also run successful tour company Alpine Adventures.

Emma is the third generation of the Chisholm family to work in Queenstown’s tourism industry. Her parents famed ‘flying pub crawl’ tour of the 1980s propelled her passion for creating some truly unforgettable adventures.

“It was called Henry’s Backcountry Flying Pub Crawl, and the name pretty much sums it up. It was fun, it was rowdy, and it was unique,” she says.

“Like Mum and Dad, we try to make every tour memorable. We’ve built great friendships with the winery owners and businesses we work with, and as a result, our guests leave Queenstown feeling like locals.”

Setting themselves apart from the rest, the local family-owned and operated business has created three adult-only group experiences, while those with children can enjoy a private tour.

Director and Tour Guide Lee Saunders said their adults only tours are already receiving rave reviews.

“People love it! There’s over 15 wine tour companies in Queenstown and almost all of them allow kids on their group tours,” he says.

“We wanted to give adults a chance to kick back and completely relax. We love kids, we have one of our own, but we all know that sometimes you just want a day to yourself.”

Alpine Wine Tours offers half and full-day tour options, taking visitors through the stunning Gibbston sub-region and into the beautiful Cardrona Valley in the comfort of their impressive fleet of luxury European vehicles.

Recognised with Tourism New Zealand’s Qualmark silver rating, the company prides itself on employing local and knowledgeable guides.

“All our guides are certified, passionate and just all-round fun,” says Lee. “We love to go the extra mile with the little touches like giving personalised water bottles and wine sleeves as gifts, to sharing our family history and local knowledge.

“Because we specialise in wine tours only our guides are super knowledgeable. They’re not your average sightseeing guide, they’re real wine experts.”

Alpine Wine Tours operates daily group, personal and customisable experiences from Queenstown. For more information see their website.

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Stunning Queenstown home wins Southern Supreme House of the Year

A Queenstown building company renowned for quality standards in workmanship and ‘ultimate pride in the job’ has struck gold, again.

AJ Saville Builder Ltd was named Supreme House of the Year Award winner for a Queenstown home at the Southern Registered Master Builders 2018 House of the Year gala dinner this weekend (Saturday July 21).

In addition to the Supreme accolade, the company also scooped multiple gongs for the same home with a Craftsmanship Award, Heart of the Home Kitchen Award, Gold Award and Category win in the New Home Over $2 million division.

The multi-award-winning company had a second home in the awards, which also won Gold and a GIB Show Home Category awards for a Millbrook Country Club property.

Arrowtown-based owner and founder Allister Saville says the seven awards are testament to the hard work and dedication of his team of over 35 tradesmen, sub-contractors and suppliers.

“It’s a winning result for everyone involved,” he says.

“The immaculate detailing and craftsmanship of the Queenstown home won over the judges, and we’re delighted with the feedback.

“This project was a ‘once in a lifetime’ build for our tradesmen and subbies, delivering a home with this level of bespoke requirements.

“The client, builders and designers all worked in harmony, and it’s demonstrated in the immaculate finish of this four-year build.

“Both projects demonstrate consistency in our work and it’s hugely rewarding for our staff to be recognised for their hard work and quality craftsmanship.”

The substantial 802sqm four bedroom, four-plus bathroom Queenstown home is a collection of different building types, functions, cladding and internal finishes, all centred around a sunny courtyard.

The judges were most impressed with the immaculate detailing of curved glass galleries linking stone buildings to the kitchen, lounge and living areas.

The project was constructed in keeping with historic buildings of the Queenstown Lakes district, using local stone and steep-pitched slate and iron roofs.

The energy-efficient Millbrook Country Club show home, designed by Mason & Wales Architects, exudes modern class and a subtle French feel with all the charm and character of a traditional Central Otago cottage.

Allister says the show home is a timeless design that epitomises the sophisticated rural elegance and character that is world-class Millbrook Resort.

“A show home demonstrates the very best standards in your work and I’m honoured to work in partnership with Millbrook Resort to deliver functional, spacious and energy-efficient homes at the resort,” he says.

A total of 13 Gold Award winners from the southern region will now be judged against Gold Award winners from around the country to identify the National Gold Reserve finalists.

Those finalists will go head to head at the Registered Master Builders Supreme Awards for House of the Year and Renovation of the Year on November 24 in Auckland.

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Huge snow dump delivers epic powder day at Treble Cone

Wanaka’s iconic Treble Cone ski area is revelling in the white stuff, after receiving over 45cms of snow in the last 24 hours.

Snowstorms over the past few days have delivered wall-to-wall coverage across the ski area, with clear skies overhead conditions are shaping up to be “all time”.

General Manager Toby Arnott says the superb snow, fresh powder and blue skies have created the kind of day that TC fans dream of.

“Everyone up here is having a great time,” he says. “There were guests already waiting in line when staff turned up this morning, they were that keen.”

With Australian and New Zealand school holidays in full swing, the timing couldn’t be better.

“Half of Wanaka and all our school holiday visitors are up the mountain today having a whale of a time,” says Toby.

Treble Cone safety teams worked around the clock to ensure their renowned bowls, chutes and natural pipes could be open to riders as early as possible.

“We’ve had no less than 15 ski patrol members out on the mountain this morning undertaking control work. We even called in a helicopter to ensure we could open the Saddle Basin as soon as possible,” says Toby.

The Saddle Basin was cleared by ski patrol and opened by mid-morning.

“We have the highest elevation with the most diverse terrain in the area and when we receive such a huge dump in a short amount of time, avalanche control is essential to guarantee the safety of our staff and guests,” says Toby.

With over 1500 keen skiers and snowboarders hitting the slopes at Treble Cone today, the access road has been closed to uphill traffic to assist with car parking and traffic management.

Free shuttle buses are running flat out from the bottom of the access road to transport visitors to the base building.

With all lifts open and a base depth of 95cms in the Home Basin and 130cms in the Saddle Basin, Toby says skiers and snowboarders can enjoy epic, uncrowded conditions across the whole ski area.

“We have 550ha of skiable terrain, even on our busiest of days it’s rare to stand in a lift line or compete for fresh tracks,” says Toby.

“It looks like it’s going to be a hell of a winter.”

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Mt Cook Alpine Salmon appoints Sir Bill English to board

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon has announced the appointment of Sir Bill English to its board of directors, effective August 1 2018.

Board Chairman, the Rt. Hon Jim Bolger says Bill’s profile is obviously well known throughout New Zealand.

“His recent retirement from politics gives him the opportunity to apply his talents and unquestionable belief in New Zealand, helping a fast-growing company like ours realise its potential for the benefit of shareholders and NZ Inc,” he says.

Mr English is delighted to be joining the board of Mount Cook Alpine Salmon.

“I am looking forward to joining a southern company producing a world-class product that is doing extremely well in high-value export markets, and I hope to contribute to its ongoing success,” he says.

Mr Bolger says the continued success of Mt Cook Alpine Salmon depends as much on the performance of the organisation as it does on the product.

“I am confident that Bill’s strong relationships within New Zealand, along with his developed international experience, will prove invaluable as we continue to expand our business,” he says.

“I very much look forward to his contribution.”

About Mt Cook Alpine Salmon

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon operates its aquaculture business in the heart of the Mackenzie district at the foot of the Southern Alps and sells its Freshwater King Salmon to high-end customers around the world including Australia, UAE, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and the US. The company operates two hatcheries; has a primary processing plant in Timaru along with a secondary plant in Christchurch where it produces its popular Aoraki smoked brand. The company employs 175 staff.

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