Simply the best: Queenstown iFLY co-owner Matt Wong, third from left, with, from left, staff Rangi McGregor, April Park, Linnette van Ballegooijen, Oliver Lawson and Allen Sparks


Queenstown’s iFLY’s officially New Zealand tourism’s ‘‘employer of choice’’.

The business, owned by Matt Wong and his wife, Amy, won the coveted gong, sponsored by Tourism Talent, during Monday night’s Tourism Industry Aotearoa virtual awards.

The award recognises a business which has risen to work force challenges and maintained a positive and high-performing workplace with industry-leading practices and innovations to
retain and recruit staff.

Wong, who bought the business last summer from its United States owners, says they’re ‘‘elated’’ and ‘‘absolutely stoked’’.

‘‘We’re over the moon and it’s just nice to get one over the big guys on occasion, and represent the town.

‘‘It’s a nice way to end the year.’’

Watching the awards on a Zoom call in his office, by himself, Wong says it’s difficult to articulate what winning that category means.

‘‘It’s one of those ones that really hits you in the chest.

‘‘The last two years have been really hard on everybody, but to be recognised for looking  after your people and getting them through, it means a lot more than … success in the bank balance — that doesn’t mean anything, emotionally.

‘‘But to know that you’ve looked after your close people in your team in a time of crisis means a lot more to me than anything else.’’

iFLY took the award ahead of finalists Auckland-based Maverick Digital and Miranda Holiday
Park, on the Coromandel.

Wong also pays tribute to the other Queenstown finalists — Altitude Tours and Dart River
Adventures, both finalists in the visitor experience category, RealNZ, which got a nod for the conservation award, and Cardrona Alpine Resort boss Bridget Legnavsky, who was in the running for the ‘tourism champion award’.

While his low-key celebration involved cracking a couple of beers by himself, he’s planning a proper celebration with his 13 staff soon.