West Coast Scenic Waterways
Cruise, stay and play at Mahinapua
Up and down the West Coast, in offices and warehouses, home offices and kitchen tables, small businesses are flourishing. Development West Coast runs a nine-week programme called CO.STARTERS to equip aspiring entrepreneurs so they can turn ideas into action. Many of the businesses do not have a traditional store front, so in this series of Open for Business, the Greymouth Star and Development West Coast sample some of the emerging small enterprises that are helping shape the future.
Co.Starters graduates Cindy and Gavin Hopper live south of Hokitika amid ancient rimu and kamahi trees, surrounded by birdsong and the stunning Mahinapua waterways. They don’t just live in this untamed, natural wilderness, they work there as well. Their business West Coast Scenic Waterways offers eco-cruises, freedom kayaking and accommodation in this picturesque area.
"Adventure brought us to the Coast, and it hasn't disappointed. We left a textile design and electrical career in Auckland to explore New Zealand. A roast meal and job offer in Hokitika kept us in the South Island for good,” Cindy says.
The origin of their business West Coast Scenic Waterways was also quite spontaneous, stemming from a simple request they received to allow easement through their property for a new section of the West Coast Wilderness Trail.
“The derelict paddleboat across the creek suddenly took on a whole new light and our sleepout got a new coat of paint” Cindy says.
The couple offers scenic eco-cruises along the picturesque Mahinapua lowland wetlands with the snow-capped Southern Alps as a backdrop. In this history-rich area they follow the same routes used by pioneers, gold diggers and early explorers. They also offer freedom kayaking to allow visitors to experience the beautiful West Coast flora and fauna at their own pace. Accommodation is also provided to let guests soak in the tranquil beauty of the surrounding native rain forests.
“This is all about to expand and change as our business takes on a new flavour of 'cruise, stay and play!” Cindy adds.
To help gain a better foundation and more structure to their business Cindy and Gavin joined DWC’s Co.Starters course run in Hokitika last year by WestREAP.
“It proved a good choice because we covered a lot more ground than expected. We covered topics such as identifying your customer and their needs, determining whether your business idea is even viable and working out your break-even points in costings, amongst other things.
“Our only regret was that we were already stretched and lacked the time to fully soak in and implement everything - a work in progress! It was also fun to be in a creative environment with other participants and our great facilitators.” Cindy says.
Their business West Coast Scenic Waterways is perfectly suited for the West Coast, showcasing our spectacular natural environment.
“Our greatest advantage, considering the growth experienced last season, is the West Coast Wilderness Trail. The new section past us is not even officially open and we are blocking out a season ahead to accommodate cycleway groups. The West Coast Wilderness Trail is our client’s destination, unlike the free independent travellers who are poor in time.
“We expect to more than double our activity this coming season and are working with Heritage West Coast, DOC, and other organisations on telling the stories of the Mahinapua creek/lake and it's flora, fauna and history.
“We expect our planned boathouse, 'The Waterman' - named after the original waterman who used to take paying clients through that creek in the 1800's in the gold rush days - to open up a lot of other opportunities for us and the community.
“We are planning packages which include boat cruises, bike hire and hopefully connecting with the West Coast Treetop Walkway eventually. We expect these packages to be popular as an activity providing a 'taste of the trail and waterways' for those clients just passing through with limited time available. Our commercial consent process will include more accommodation units due to high demand.
“Our plan is to grow our business organically by listening to our customers, testing products, and most of all, ensuring that our priority is ‘enjoying our guests’ and giving them the best possible experience!” she says.
To find out more about West Coast Scenic Waterways visit their website www.westcoastscenicwaterways.co.nz, or even better yet head out to Mahinapua and let Gavin and Cindy take you for a cruise along the majestic Mahinapua waterways.
“It proved a good choice because we covered a lot more ground than expected. We covered topics such as identifying your customer and their needs, determining whether your business idea is even viable and working out your break-even points in costings, amongst other things."