Can't keep going: Canyon Explorers co-owner Stefan Crawford


A Queenstown adventure tourism company’s hibernating as it’s on ‘‘a hiding to nothing’’ till borders reopen.

Canyon Explorers is pulling the plug this coming Monday, though its fulltimers — three guides and a frontliner — have all found other employment.

Co-owner Stefan Crawford says normally Kiwis make up only 4% of his clientele over summer.

‘‘We’ve carried the equivalent of 10%, so it’s double, but it’s just not enough.

‘‘Being 90% down, you’re on a hiding to nothing.’’

They’d have been content to cover costs, he says, ‘‘but we went to the team and said, ‘look, it’s starting to get dodgy whether we’re covering operational costs’, that’s guides’ wages and frontline wages’’.

He’s thankful his staff have found other jobs, including casual work with local landscape business owner Simon Price.

‘‘It’s not fulltime, but hopefully we can give them work for a few months or so,’’ Price says.

Crawford says his company benefited from last year’s wage subsidy, but in hindsight should have applied for money from the government’s controversial strategic assets protection programme.

‘‘We didn’t think we met the criteria.’’

He’s grateful his company also owns a snowsports rental business which will run again this winter.

Last year it was 50% down, ‘‘but considering only about 20% of our winter business was domestic, that was really good’’.

As to when his canyoning business will reopen, Crawford says if international borders remain closed, he might need Immigration New Zealand support to let experienced canyon guides enter the country.

He’s pleased he’s had support from his landlords, and commends mayor Jim Boult’s efforts on behalf of the struggling local tourism industry.

‘‘There’ll be flak out there, people saying, ‘you’ve had it so good’, but there’s only so long you can survive on retained earnings.’’