Dressmart founder wants the world to follow him to Reefton

27 September 2016
He's run out of global travel destinations, so the founder of the Dressmart chain, John Bougen, has settled in Reefton with a big idea to bring tourism to the small West Coast town.

Seven Sharp reported he's the most travelled man in New Zealand, and one of the most travelled in the world - but the Guinness Book of Records has given up trying to award that title.

After seeing the world, Mr Bougen wants the world to come to Reefton.

"Best mountain bike tracks in New Zealand here, some of the best fishing in New Zealand, the best, best, best is all here," he said.

The programme reported Mr Bougen has also been buying up a lot of Reefton property since he hit town "like a hurricane" just under two years ago, and he's sprucing up a few houses in need of it.
The first thing he bought was a local school for $170,000.

"I had a week up my sleeve, bored senseless so I bought it," he said, laughing.

Since then he's bought up quite a bit more of Reefton.

"The art gallery then next door is the Top Shop, then the Super Value."

Graeme Neylon, the deputy mayor, is okay with "Hurricane John" hitting Reefton.

Asked what Mr Bougen has done, Mr Neylon said: "What hasn't he done is probably more to the point? A bit of a breath of fresh air into the place, sort of carried on development that has probably already started."

"Hurricane John" has a lot of projects on the go, like a giant New Zealand flag made out of lavender.

He put up 45 flag poles for NZ flags in town and says he's "having a competition down at the school to come up with a design for the Reefton pendant".

An ideas man, and a proud Reeftonite through and through.