Grapes of wrath


A spat’s broken out between two Queenstown hop-on hop-off wine tours visiting Gibbston wineries.

Marlborough-based Hop on Hop off Wine Tours is hopping mad at Queenstown Wine Trail allegedly stealing its thunder with its own Wine Hopper Bus.

An “extremely disappointed” Hop on Hop off Wine Tours owner Juliearna Kavanagh claims Queenstown Wine Trail “put on social media that they were going to be the first hop-on hop-off wine tour.”

“I just thought, this is not the right thing to do because they knew I was coming, and they copied the idea,” she alleges.

“I had to slap them with a legal letter, and then they had to pull that stuff on social media.”

Kavanagh says she brought forward her opening date to July 26 to ensure she was Queenstown’s first hop-on hop-off wine tour – Wine Hopper Bus launched the next day.

“Of course I wanted to be first – it’s my baby.

“To be honest, competition’s healthy, I just think there are right ways and wrong ways to do things.”

Kavanagh, who’s now shifted to Queenstown, says she’s not concerned with her rival’s name, or its promotion of its “hop on and hop off” service.

“The name is nothing to do with me, there’s a company in America.”

Queenstown Wine Trail’s co-managing director Heather McDonald says she doesn’t want to comment. “We just play our game and play our game really well.

“I just don’t want to get into silly ‘who-says-what’, or ‘did what’ or ‘did what when’ – we have masses of competition.

“[Kavanagh] can feel what she likes, but you know what I feel is we all work hard for a living.

“I don’t even know the lady and I don’t want to know her, and I’m sad that you’ve told me her name.”

Asked if she started her Wine Hopper Bus because the Marlborough operator was setting up in Queenstown, she says: “I have no idea where it arrives from.”

But didn’t she want to be the first local hop-on hop-off tour?

McDonald says that was of no concern to her, while noting her Queenstown Wine Trail, which set up 25 years ago, was the resort’s first wine tour company.

Meanwhile she confirms her company’s also started Hop On Beer Tours, which her son’s running.