Queenstown-based tourism company Active Adventures is simply supreme.
At the Queenstown Business Awards at Walter Peak last Saturday night, the business won the ‘excellence in people and capability award’, before being named best of the best of this year’s finalists.
Chief executive Wendy van Lieshout says the latter’s ‘‘an honour’’.
‘‘In Queenstown, I always feel like it’s really world-class, global businesses around us … it’s always a bit daunting going up against them.
‘‘When you trade in business, you’re in a bit of a vacuum … you don’t actually know how you’re going against anybody else, it’s just all perception.
‘‘So something like this … it’s just in credible and it’s so good for the business.’’
The award that means ‘‘more than anything’’, though, was the recognition for people and capability, noting, quite literally, their business is about their people.
Active Adventures employs 140 staff across the world — just 15 of whom are based in Queenstown — delivering more than 80 trips in six continents and 22 countries through Active Adventures and Austin Adventures, the latter acquired in 2021.
Looking ahead, Van Lieshout says they’re on a global search for more businesses to acquire or partner with, a massive technology project and a ‘‘people engagement project’’ within the business to keep the team ‘‘super-charged for continued growth’’.
Among the other award winners was Hansen Rd’s Country Lane. Nominated in the ‘best emerging business’ category, won by Mountainwatch Travel, Country Lane won Mountain Scene’s People’s Choice Award, by a country mile.
Operations manager Annika Grant says that recognition ‘‘means the world’’.
‘‘That’s the award we really wanted to win because, obviously, the community has spoken and they’re our supporters, so it’s really nice to know that the community appreciates what we’re doing.’’
Country Lane has 13 bespoke tenants, with more to come, including about 10 who’ll call the former Queenstown Arts Centre on Stanley St home after it moves early next year and is retrofitted on site.
Supreme winner: Active Adventures
Excellence in marketing: Medrecruit
Excellence in sustainable and regenerative practices: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Excellence in customer experience: Altitude Tours
Excellence in people and capability: Active Adventures
Excellence in community contribution: Headlight
Best emerging business: Mountainwatch Travel
Excellence in strategy and business solutions: First Table
Excellence in innovation: Info & Track
Excellence in diversity and inclusion: RealNZ
Air New Zealand mentorship award: Canyon Brewing
People’s Choice Award: Country Lane
Two Queenstown businesses and one of its bosses have just received major tourism gongs.
At the 2023 New Zealand Tourism Awards, Skyline Enterprises was presented with the BDO Tourism Excellence Award for large business, following its mammoth gondola upgrade, completed in June — other finalists were Air New Zealand, Fullers360 and INFLITE Group.
Of Skyline, judges recognised the company’s extra efforts to lighten its footprint, its charity work and the significant investment on Bob’s Peak, and acknowledged its support for recreational opportunities, such as the Queenstown Marathon.
Altitude Tours was presented with the NZME Visitor Experience Award, beating Kiwi Journeys New Zealand and Wild Kiwi Tours.
Judges made special mention of Altitude’s ‘‘impressive focus on customer satisfaction, measuring and delivering beyond expectations’’, while its use of technology, to gain real-time feedback, evolve at pace and continue to refine and improve the business was a great example for others to follow.
And Altitude co-founder and GM Heidi Farren was named Eudora+ Emerging Tourism Leader — other finalists were Go With Tourism’s Heidi Gillingham and Sudima Hotels’ Awatere Douglas, but judges agreed there was ‘‘something special about Heidi [Farren]’’.