Queenstowners pop up all over the world. For most of the past 16 years, Jane and Fraser Tyrrell have lived in the beautiful Central American country of Costa Rica. Jane and Fraser talk to PHILIP CHANDLER about what they did in Queenstown and why they’re taking an unorthodox approach to selling their adventure tourism business
A couple raffling off their successful Costa Rican eco-tourism business got their start in tourism in Queenstown.
North Canterbury-raised Jane Tyrrell and her Scottish hubby Fraser, who has a Kiwi passport, have owned Costa Rico Rios — specialising in week-long adventure tours and whitewater kayaking trips — since 2007.
Business has quadrupled in that time, and the couple have had a ball while also raising sons Archie, 15, and Tana, 13, in the tropics.
They now feel it’s time to move on — ‘‘we just really want to broaden [the boys] out a bit more’’, Jane says — but have decided to sell their business rather unconventionally.
They’re raffling it off, via an online hosting platform, for $NZ82 (£40) a ticket, and hope to sell a minimum of 25,000 tickets by the time the winner’s drawn on February 1.
The winner wins the business plus an office and an equipment warehouse that stores, for example, about 60 whitewater kayaks, plus $NZ245,000 in cash to help with cashflow.
The Tyrrells pocket the raffle money, minus commission to the hosting platform.
If they don’t sell enough tickets, the winner gets 75% of the raffle money, the hosting platform gets the balance and the Tyrrells get nothing, but they do hold on to the company.
Jane says the reason they’re raffling their company is ‘‘we feel because we’ve been so successful, the price point of it, the value is such those 30-year-olds, ourselves 20 years ago, probably couldn’t afford it and probably couldn’t get a loan for it’’.
‘‘It’s probably out of reach for most normal, adventurous, crazy 30-year-olds, and that’s why we’re doing it this way.’’
Jane says she and Fraser came to Queenstown in 2001 and bought a Fernhill house which they ran as a bed and breakfast while both held down jobs.
Moving on: Fraser and Jane Tyrrell and sons Archie and Tana preparing to zipline through the Costa Rican jungle
Jane worked at what’s now RealNZ, at United Travel and briefly as a Southland Times sales rep.
Fraser, who played four seasons for the Wakatipu Rugby Club, worked at Pog Mahone’s, at the casino and drove buses briefly for Dart River Jet Safaris.
‘‘We sold our house and then spent a year figuring out what to do with our money before stumbling across Costa Rico Rios,’’ Jane says.
As to how Queenstown set them up, Jane pinpoints the resort’s whole outdoorsy lifestyle.
‘‘I would go tramping around Queenstown, especially on Saturday morning when Fraser was sleeping [after his late casino shift].’’
Fraser says it also got them used to living with different types of people.
Queenstown also fuelled their ambition to run a tourism business.
‘‘Sometimes when you work in tourism, you feel you can do it better than the next guy, so at some point Jane and I said, ‘let’s put our money where our mouth is and see if we can actually do it better than the next guy’.’’
Jane says they thought of returning to Queenstown to live about two years ago, ‘‘but we just weren’t ready’’.
‘‘I think we need some ocean living for a bit.’’
Fraser: ‘‘I feel we’ve got another adventure in us before we’re too old’’ — he’s 49 and Jane’s 51.
Meanwhile, he says he’d love it if a Kiwi wins the business.
‘‘Kiwis in general have got an adventurous spirit.
‘‘They’re the kind of people that can come in and give it a good crack.’’
Of course, to complete the circle, the Tyrrells would doubtless be overjoyed if it landed in Queenstown hands.
The raffle ticket link, to ‘Win The Ultimate Adventure’, is available at raffall.com