What have we been up to during April and May?

From an industry perspective, the exciting news over the past month has been the announcement from the Government that the international border will reopen to all tourists and visa holders from 31 July, two months earlier than planned.

This means for the industry that we will again see the international tourists back in New Zealand this summer. Cruise ships will again be docking at our ports around the country.

Prior to establishing Kaewa Tours and pre the covid-19 pandemic, I used to perform contract tour guiding for two other companies on a part time basis and very much enjoyed taking cruise ship passengers around Wellington, Kapiti and over to the South Wairarapa. Apart from showcasing our ‘back yard’ to visitors off cruise ships I enjoyed talking about the cruises we’ve done since 2010 and ‘comparing notes’.

To state the obvious, we are certainly looking forward to welcoming back our international visitors.

Already we are seeing an increased number of enquiries and bookings for next summer which is very encouraging.

Read here for more details on the announcement made by the Prime Minister on 11 May.

On the 12th of May I attended the Business Events Wellington and WellingtonNZ’s Industry Hui for a local industry update from Major Events Wellington, Business Events Wellington & Tākina Events, WellingtonNZ Marketing, WellingtonNZ Tourism and a guest speaker – Hazel Rigler, the Chief Commercial Director from The Motive Group and Village Accommodation Group. Hazel (along with myself) was one of the 12 Tourism/Hospitality businesses that went through the inaugural Wellington Sustainable Tourism Programme last year. It was great to hear what sustainability initiatives Hazel and her team have implemented across the business and the successes they have had.

Special thanks to Jo Heaton and her fabulous team from WellingtonNZ for another great Industry Hui.

Latest tours:

During May I have hosted a guest from Auckland who came out on a Kaewa Tours full day South Wairarapa tour. We visited the Kaitoke Regional Park, had wine tastings with Poppy and lunch at Poppies Martinborough, tastings with Helen at Olivo Olive Oil, drove out to Cape Palliser (the North Island’s most southern point) and walked up the 253 steps to the lighthouse, checked out the seals at the Cape Palliser Seal Colony and on our way home we visited Karly at Greytown Honey to sample their delicious honey.

Wine tastings with Poppy at Poppies Martinborough

My guest tasting wines with Poppy Hammond, Winemaker/Owner Poppies Martinborough.

Lunch and wine tastings at Poppies Martinborough

I always enjoy sitting down with my guests for lunch at Poppies.

Upon on the beautiful Kāpiti Coast I hosted 5 nice ladies who came out on a half day Kaewa Tours Kāpiti foodie tour. First up was a great visit to Louisa at the Kāpiti Chocolate Factory where Louisa took us through a Bean to Palate presentation. Unlike our wine tours I get to ‘fully participate’ in this segment of the tour!

We then headed to visit Bec and Chris at Koakoa / The Bond Store for a tour of their Distillery followed by tastings of their most delightful Limoncello, Kawakawa Gin and Vodka.

Next up was to taste award winning Ciders with Carmen from Elemental Ciders.

Last drinks were at the Tuatara Tap Room, Kāpiti’s first Craft Brewery. Did you know that the Tuatara was originally established by Carl Vasta in the Reikorangi Valley behind Waikanae?

Limoncello, Gin and Vodka tastings at Koakoa/The Bond Store

Limoncello, Gin and Vodka tastings in the Distillery with Bec from Koakoa/The Bond Store.

Sometimes the tour guide takes a holiday!

In April the Kaewa Tours team headed away for a week to Central Otago. We based ourselves in Wanaka with good friends Sally & Brent from Totara Tunnel Olives and enjoyed some stunning Central Otago Autumn weather along with local Pinot Noir, of course!

We did the 52 km Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail where we biked from Cromwell to Clyde. This was a fabulous ride.  We hired our bikes from Rail Journeys who were great to deal with. I highly recommend going with Rail Journeys for your bike hire. We started off at Cromwell with our first stop Carrick Winery for lunch. Beautiful wines, food and a most gorgeous view. Hiring an E-Bike is a must – especially after a few hours at Carrick Winery!

Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail, Central Otago
Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail, Central Otago
Clutha River, Bannockburn
Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail, Central Otago

A selection of stunning images from the Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail.

Carrick Winery, Bannockburn

The gorgeous view from Carrick Winery in Bannockburn.

It was hard to get going on the bike again after a 2 hour ‘refreshment’ stop!

Now speaking of wine, we did a tour with Wanaka Wine Tours. Our Guide John was superb. John took us to 6 wineries around Wanaka, Cromwell and Bannockburn. We visited Aitkens Folly, Rippon, Wooing Tree, Te Kano Estate, Domain Road and Nanny Goat Vineyard. Absolutely outstanding wines and tour. Speaking of Wanaka Wine Tours, we also caught up with the Owners Megan Williams and Scott West. Megan is the Sustainable Tourism Advocate at Tourism Industry Aotearoa and I met Megan last year when I went through the Wellington Sustainable Tourism Programme. It was great to sit down and ‘compare notes’ of our respective businesses. Thanks again Megan and Scott for the tour and advice.

You can read more about the sustainability initiatives we have implemented as a result of going through the Wellington Sustainable Tourism Programme here.

The majestic view from Rippon Winery, Wanaka
Wooing Tree Winery, Cromwell
Vineyards of Bannockburn Central Otago

Rippon Vineyard, Wanaka. Is there a better view from a New Zealand vineyard?  

Lunch at Wooing Tree in Cromwell with our Guide John.

The view over the Felton Road vineyards in Bannockburn.

While we were in Central Otago we took the opportunity to do a couple of things we haven’t done before. We had a very enjoyable few hours exploring the old gold sluicings at Bannockburn. This was a very fascinating area to walk around. Quite the eerie landscape.

Bannockburn, Central Otago
Bannockburn, Central Otago
Bannockburn, Central Otago
Bannockburn, Central Otago

Gold sluicings at Bannockburn.     

In Queenstown, we did iFLY which was a lot of fun! Important not to eat prior to doing the I Fly for obvious reasons! Thanks to Matt Wong and team – you’ve got a fabulous experience!

iFLY Queenstown

Waikanae home stay:

Did you know we also do a home stay? We have been hosting guests in our own home since early 2015 and thoroughly enjoy hosting and meeting people from around the world and of course our own country!

Having friends or family visiting the Kāpiti Coast and you don’t have the space to put them up?

Check out our listing here.


We look forward to talking to you next month. Keep well everyone.


Tom and Jill

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