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Queenstown Company - 'Lord of the Safaris'

Fri, 3 Sep 2004


Innovative Queenstown company Nomad Safaris is 'Lord of the Safaris' after winning the Leisure Activities award at the New Zealand Tourism Awards and picking up a Green Globe 21 Special Award.

In the 10 years since buying Nomad Safaris, David and Amanda Gatward-Ferguson have built a company and a team that delivers the most comprehensive Lord of the Rings location tours and spectacular backcountry experiences in New Zealand.

In 1994 the company owned three ageing Toyota 4WDs and employed four staff. Today Nomad Safaris is operating New Zealand's largest fleet of 16 Land Rover Defenders for the 2004/2005 summer season, and employs a team of more than 25.

The company has entered the tourism awards for the past six years, using their entry as an annual benchmark of progress. "Every year we've improved and grown and used it as our annual review, getting feedback from it and then moving the company forward," said managing director David Gatward-Ferguson.

"We've experienced phenomenal growth with the company, especially with our two Safari of the Rings safaris to Glenorchy and into the Wakatipu Basin. People are still captured by the excitement generated by the films, and when they do the trips they're sold on the spectacular scenery.

"They're beautiful trips and we get a lot of word of mouth recommendations. Our passengers mainly come from English-speaking markets, but we're seeing increasing numbers of Asians, especially the Japanese who are really taken with the concept of 'good versus evil' in the Lord of the Rings films."

Nomad Safaris has trips into the historic goldmining areas of Skippers and Macetown, the two LOTR safaris, a 4WD experience where passengers are taught to drive an off-road vehicle, and Quad Bike tours on Queenstown Hill, overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains.

A runaway success in recent months has been Nomad Safaris' decision to open a dedicated Lord of the Rings store in downtown Queenstown, selling licensed products only.

"It came about as a result of customer requests for all things Lord of the Rings," said marketing manager Helen Jansen. "What has astounded us is the volume of sales even though we opened at a reasonably quiet time of year.

"Swords and jewellery are just flying out of the door, excuse the pun, and there are some really discerning buyers who are telling us they are not able to buy the goods they find here in their own countries.
"We know this is the only dedicated store of its kind in New Zealand, and suspect it is the only one of its kind in the world."

Mr Gatward-Ferguson said the company's safari trips were perfectly tailored to New Zealand's target market, the interactive traveller.

"By applying the sound ideals of best practice, quality standards and team spirit we have built a very desirable product," he said.

"Our flexibility and sensitivity to the market meant that when we saw how much of Lord of the Rings was filmed in the area, we were well placed to become the first to deliver a dedicated tour of locations.

"We truly believe our company and products are among the best. Just to get to the finals of the tourism awards was fantastic, but to be awarded and recognised as a category leader was way beyond our expectations.

"Having that sort of feedback is just outstanding. Winning has given our team the strongest endorsement possible and recognised our achievements over the past 10 years."

Ms Jansen said the Green Globe special award was an unexpected bonus.

"We are Green Globe benchmarked which is an international standard for companies working on sustainability within the tourism industry. We have always had a very strong commitment to environmental sustainability, even before Green Globe came into being. We were one of the first companies in New Zealand to be affiliated with Green Globe three years ago."

Cathy Parsons, Global Manager of GREEN GLOBE 21, said Nomad Safaris was proof that environmental concerns and commercial success could go hand in hand.

"Nomad takes small groups and provides a cultural, historical and scenic experience while operating in the most environmentally sensitive way possible," she said. "Nomad Safaris were not only early - and enthusiastic - adopters of the Green Globe programme, but have gone beyond the call of duty with environmental initiatives.

"At the same time, Nomad Safaris have been commercially very successful."

Ms Jansen said Nomad Safaris was still growing.

"We are building on our successes so watch this space for further developments," she said.


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