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Hauraki Coromandel Tourism Businesses Celebrated


The annual regional business excellence award winners were announced last night at a gala dinner at Grand Mercure Puka Park in Pauanui. The 2021 Hauraki Coromandel Business Awards event was also live-streamed to include all those supporters and businesses who were unable to attend in person.

Tourism businesses are facing a very uncertain summer when normally they would expect to generate the bulk of their annual revenue to see them through the year. However, in general tourism is a positive industry, driven by irrepressible and entrepreneurial characters. The finalists in the Tourism Category of these awards are certainly resolute in continuing to deliver outstanding experiences despite adverse trading conditions.

Cathedral Cove Kayak Tours is a deserving winner. Now an iconic New Zealand experience, Mike Grogan and the team have stuck to what they do so well, building their reputation to offer year-round employment to guides and to make a big contribution economically and socially to the Hahei community. The tours have a very light footprint, taking walking traffic off the well-used track to Cathedral Cove and educating visitors on the wildlife and ecology of our volcanic coastline. With a strong international reputation and clientele, the closing of borders has hit this business very hard. With some pragmatic operational and marketing decisions, Mike and the team have continued to launch their kayaks every day that they can get out and help keep The Coromandel on the map for visitors.

The two other finalists were: Historical Maritime Park, Paeroa and Wild Wood Mini Golf, Whitianga. The Maritime Park is evolving very quickly. To date it has been run by volunteers but this summer will see the next steps in attracting more visitors. While known for the museum's impressive collection of shipping artefacts and the historic machinery in the grounds, the river boats cruises, large garden areas and trees offer amenities for a wide range of visitors, not just history buffs.

The new owners at Wild Wood Mini Golf, Kristen Robinson and Darren Prole, have taken a Whitianga classic and updated it for a new audience. As the current New Zealand mini-golf champion, Darren no doubt intends to practice there at every opportunity to defend his title. Well-run and maintained mini golf courses remain popular as a group activity, and it is clear that simple pastimes still resonate with Kiwis.

The Supreme Award winner was Coromandel Distilling Company. Although a finalist (and category winner) in Manufacturing and Trade, this business has a legitimate place in tourism experiences. A visit to the micro-distillery in The Depot in Thames is a fascinating encounter for locals and visitors alike. The gleaming copper still is visible through a window in the historic precinct where a couple of creative scientists have taken their love of The Coromandel and bottled it. A full-on commercial business was never the plan for Paul Schneider and Daniela Suess. Acclaim at the New Zealand Spirits Awards was early and welcome, since followed up with international recognition. But it’s the feedback they get from sharing the wilderness-infused Awildian spirits that makes their labour of love worthwhile.

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