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Riverplay receives Trust funding

Riverplay receives Trust funding

The West Coast Development Trust has approved a loan to Riverplay Ltd, a Hokitika rafting operation owned by Melissa Scarlett and managed by Deane Parker.

Riverplay Ltd is a new business start-up that will provide rafting and kayaking activities around the Hokitika area. Manager Deane Parker has extensive rafting industry experience and says the company will also offer trips to rivers throughout the wider West Coast Region, and to the longest river trip in New Zealand, the Clarence River in North Canterbury.

“The rafting industry on the West Coast is less developed than in other major tourism destinations and this was the major contributing factor in Riverplay’s conception,” says Deane Parker.

“West Coast rivers are not only some of the best in New Zealand but also the world. They’re pristine, wild and challenging. Most are only accessible by helicopter, which is both a feature and major expense, so we tried to develop products that utilised helicopters less or not at all.”

The West Coast Development Trust’s loan to Riverplay has assisted the company to purchase premises, build an equipment storage area and has provided working capital. The business venture will create two new jobs in the West Coast Region and bring the number of commercial rafting companies to around six.

The Trust is also facilitating further development of the West Coast’s commercial river industry by bringing operators together to discuss issues affecting their industry. The group includes commercial rafting, kayaking, canoeing and jet boating companies, and the Trust is assisting them to develop a formal industry association.

Meetings are being chaired by Chris Auchinvole, a Trustee of The West Coast Development Trust. The group’s initial goals are improving communication with the Department of Conservation, developing collective marketing initiatives and ensuring the industry continues to operate within community interests.

According to Dean Parker, there is definite scope to build a more viable future for operators and the West Coast’s commercial river industry in general.

“By working together we can have more say in the way our industry is governed and managed”, says Deane Parker.

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