Queenstown trio turn pine pest into perfume

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Three Queenstowners are turning the Wakatipu’s biggest environmental pest into sweet-smelling fragrances, perfumes and soaps.

Wilding & Co directors Michael Sly, Mathurin Molgat and Dave Turnbull are distilling oil from the wilding pine trees that are threatening to choke the local landscape. The trio have an international scientist declaring their fir oil as the finest in the world.

They’ve started harvesting pines above Queenstown’s Gorge Road – and have employed experts to turn their oil into valuable perfumes and colognes as well as body washes and cleaning products.

Sales of the various products would fund the clearing of tens and even hundreds of thousands of immature wilding pines, they say.

“The more product we sell, the more trees we harvest – bigger is greener,” Molgat says.

New Zealand’s clean and green message would be boosted if hospitality operators stocked their soaps, he adds.

“If every tourist who came to town washed their hands with Wilding & Co soap, every tourist is effectively paying to help clear the pines and going home with an amazing message.”

The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Conservation allowing them to lop pines on DoC reserves in the Wakatipu and the Mackenzie Basin. Wilding & Co is holding a stall at the Arrowtown Autumn Festival arts and crafts market this Saturday.