Two small, locally-owned Kaikōura businesses are taking a gin distillery to the mountain, in
the hope of attracting international holidaymakers to the coastal town.
South Pacific Helicopters CEO Daniel Stevenson and Mt Fyffe Distillery owner Justine
Schroder are teaming up in a bid to give the tourist region a vital boost.
Ahead of the borders reopening to fully vaccinated travellers from visa-waiver countries in
May, South Pacific Helicopters is launching a new gin experience. This will take guests on a
30-minute scenic flight over the Kaikōura peninsula and Seaward Kaikōura Range in their
premium Airbus helicopter, before landing on Mt Fyffe. Here guests will taste Justine
Schroder’s boutique award-winning gin as she tells her story of how it was made on her
farm at the foot of the mountain.
“When everyone is vying for tourist dollars we want to offer something really unique and we
don’t want to go back to the status quo of what we were doing pre-Covid. Visitors
increasingly want personal experiences where they can meet local owners and operators
and learn about why we do what we do,” says Daniel.
For gin maker Justine, the business venture is about two businesses, and friends, helping
each other through the hump of the past two years.
“When Kaikōura is hurting, you’ve got to think outside the box and be clever. We’ve both got
our own stories and expertise, which show that there is so much more to Kaikōura than just
our amazing whales,” says Justine.
The tours are a chance for her to showcase her passion project, which began amidst the
pandemic. A midwife by trade, she decided she needed to diversify in more recent times.
Over two years ago, she completed a gin course and then went on to create her first gin,
which tells the story of her home, with botanicals collected from around the family’s Mt Fyffe
Her Woolshed gin is a classic London dry gin, with kanuka, mint and elderflower botanicals.
Her second spirit is the Shearwater gin, which is an oceanic, contemporary gin, with
seaweed as the botanical.
The joint venture has the backing of the regional tourism operator, Destination Kaikōura, and
demand from the UK and US markets is already rolling in, with bookings coming in for
South Pacific Helicopters marketing and partnerships manager Krissy Griggs says with
international holidaymakers accounting for 90 per cent of the tourism business in Kaikōura,
they’re eager to welcome visitors back like never before.
“We launched South Pacific Helicopters in 2016 just prior to the Kaikōura earthquake and
have been in survival mode since Covid. This new premium offering is about doing
something different to attract international tourists and help revitalise a tourism industry
which has been hit hard.”
Daniel says despite the massive highs and ‘some pretty big lows’, he is now focused on the
future and drawing attention to Kaikōura.
“We’re a small spot but bursting with unique niche products that can’t be found anywhere
else in New Zealand,” he says.
Guests on the experience will receive a complimentary 375ml bottle of Woolshed Gin or
Shearwater Gin so they can take home a taste of Kaikoura.
For more information contact: [email protected]