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Emma Chisholm

Forging a tourism career: Emma Chisholm

Emma Chisholm is continuing a strong tradition as the third generation of her family to forge a career in the Southern Lakes tourism industry – and she inherited her parents’ knack for thinking outside the square.


Emma Chisholm


Having bought tour company Alpine Adventures last year, Emma and fiancé Lee Saunders recently launched Alpine Wine Tours. It’s a natural progression for Emma, who admits that tourism and hospitality are in her blood.  After arriving in Queenstown in 1966, her grandmother Lorna became Skyline Gondola’s café manager and in the 1970s her father Adrian was hotel manager of Rydges Lakeland Resort Queenstown. In the 1980s Emma’s parents set up a quirky local business called Henry’s Backcountry Flying Pub Crawl, using small planes to transport customers to country pubs in the middle of nowhere.


Tourism and hospitality are in her blood

That entrepreneurial flair rubbed off on Emma, who has introduced a few points of difference to separate their business from the competition. As a result Alpine Wine Tours offers group tours exclusively for adults (children are welcome on private or custom tours). It also offers brewery and distillery tours for those interested in how beer and spirits are made.

There’s no doubt the Central Otago wine tourism industry is flourishing, with research by Tourism New Zealand and winegrowers revealing that around 25 percent of international tourists seek out a wine experience. Emma and Lee are looking forward to seizing the opportunity to make their mark.  “Wine tourism has huge growth potential, especially when teamed with Queenstown’s future growth,” Emma says. “It’s definitely exciting times ahead.”



String to her bow

String to her bow: Cathy Irons

Acclaimed violinist Cathy Irons has added another string to her bow – pardon the pun – for the Classical Jazz Quartet’s concerts in Southern Lakes later this month.


String to her bow


Cathy and fellow Christchurch-based musicians Barry Brinson (piano/keyboard), Michael Davis (bass) and Doug Brush (drums) return for two shows at Labour Weekend, following their warm reception at Arrowtown Spring Arts Festival 2017.
The quartet is excited to be performing together again, and Cathy promises that lovers of both jazz and classical genres will be entertained. “The audience comes along on a journey with us,” she says. “We give music a makeover, taking people’s favourites and infusing them with fresh inspiration and rhythmic drive.”

Reflecting her passion for music and dedication to her craft, Cathy has been learning to play the viola especially for the southern shows. This means she will be able to play ‘Tango,’ which is a movement from Bolling’s Suite for Violin and Jazz Piano Trio. Acquiring this new skill is no mean feat: the viola is larger than the violin and playing it is more physically taxing on the fingers.

Cathy says the concert programme includes Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ from the Four Seasons – “we’re going to have a bit of fun with that” – and C.P.E. Bach’s ‘Solfeggietto.’ “People might not know that title, but they’ll recognise it when they hear it.” CJQ perform at The Rippon Hall (Wanaka) on Saturday 20 October and at Thomas L. Brown Gallery (Lake Hayes, near Queenstown) on Sunday 21 October. Tickets available through Eventfinda, plus there will be limited door sales.




Paul Reed Homes

The battle to build In Queenstown, Wanaka, Tekapo and Twizel: Paul Reed Homes

With the building boom in Queenstown and Southern Lakes putting pressure on the industry, Master Builder Paul Reed Homes has shared some ‘Insider Tips’ to help you avoid some of the stress and hidden ‘financial traps’.


Paul Reed Homes

Beware of low-ball quotes that are full of substitutions to the original specs. Under-pricing often results in builders cutting corners later to maximise profit, or even running out of cash before the work is completed, causing them to go bankrupt.

Question every ‘PC Sum’ in your quote. These are estimates only for kitchens, bathroom fittings, floor-coverings, electrical fit-out etc, but they are often underestimated to keep quotes as low as possible, with unexpected expenses if you upgrade fittings later.

Avoid over-committed contractors. Yes, projects can be delayed by bad weather etc but try to avoid unrealistic promises from contractors who might be tempted to take more work than they can handle at one time.

Always choose the best value for money quote. Remember to look for what’s not included in your contract as well as what is included. And, as a rule of thumb, the cheapest quotes usually have the least information – again often leading to more expenditure later.

Building a new home can have many financial traps for the unwary, so why not download Paul Reed Homes’ complete ‘Insider’s Guide’ below and ensure a smooth, stress-free experience when it’s time to build your new home.


Paul Reed Homes

Paul Reed Homes

Paul Reed Homes




Free Guide Available


Building a new home can have lots of financial traps for the unwary, so why not get a copy of our ‘Insider’s Guide’ below and make sure you have a smooth, stress-free experience when it’s time to build your new home.


The ‘Insider’s Guide’ To Risk-Free Building


For a copy of this important guide, Call Paul Reed Homes now on (03) 385 8574
or email:



Alexandra Blossom Festival

Marking winter’s end: Alexandra Blossom Festival

Spring has sprung, and the Southern Lakes region has awoken from its winter slumber. What better way to mark the end of our seasonal hibernation – and make the most of longer, warmer days – than by attending the Contact Alexandra Blossom Festival.


Alexandra Blossom Festival


First held in 1957, it’s the longest-running community event of its kind in New Zealand and heralds the arrival of spring in style. Event Manager Martin McPherson explains that the festival was born out of community spirit and recognition of the town’s special character. “It’s a very traditional and quite old-fashioned event,” he says. The highlight of celebrations is the Grand Procession down Alexandra’s main street, on Saturday 22 September. It features eight colourful, handcrafted floats decorated with paper flowers, with a ‘princess’ in all her regal finery atop each float.

Friday night’s Mardi Gras includes a freestyle extreme motocross show followed by a fireworks extravaganza. For kids, the weekend offers all the fun of a country fair: magicians, clowns, jugglers, balloon artistry, a ghost train and ferris wheel. There’s also a classic car show, a line-up of big-rig trucks, pipe bands, marching teams, wood-chopping displays and garden tours.

Two bands, The Nukes and RED, take to the stage at Saturday in the Park, playing “songs perfect for taking your shoes off and dancing on the grass in the sunshine,” Martin says. He also promises that festival-goers won’t go hungry or thirsty, with plenty of food, wine and craft beer on offer.


Contact Alexandra Blossom Festival runs 21-23 September. For the full programme, visit


The Grape Debate image

The Grape Debate: There’s a battle brewing within the Central Otago wine industry

There’s a battle brewing within the Central Otago wine industry, but it’s for a good cause. And there shouldn’t be any ‘sour grapes’ at the end of it.


The Grape Debate image


Following the success of similar events in Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough, the Colliers International Grape Debate comes to Southern Lakes this month. Renowned for their lighthearted – yet competitive – atmosphere, the debates have raised $100,000 for various charities while tickling the funny bone of everyone in the room. The southern version pits Central Otago winemakers against viticulturalists to contest the moot ‘It’s the vineyard guys that deserve the credit, not the winemakers’.

Organiser Bex Tacon is confident this Grape Debate will be as heated as ever, with an impressive lineup of industry experts accepting the challenge. Winemakers Dan Dineen (Maude Wines), Duncan Forsyth (Mount Edward) and Paul Pujol (Prophet’s Rock) go head to head with viticulturists Gary Crabbe (Precision Viticulture), Mike Winters (Tekano Estate) and Edwin Haycock (Amisfield).

TV comedian Jeremy Corbett, of 7 Days and The Project, will adjudicate and Queenstown real estate agent Brendan Quill will lead a charity auction. Bex guarantees the audience will be in stitches. “Jeremy is so clever,” she says. “Afterwards people comment that they haven’t laughed so much in their lives.” Alexandra-based organisation Sticks ’n’ Stones, which works to combat youth bullying and depression, will benefit from the proceeds of the evening. Bex says she wanted the money to go back into the local community to help young people.


Colliers International Grape Debate is on Friday 21 September at The Winehouse, Gibbston.

Tickets available through Eventfinda or email


Ferguson Builders

A standout build: Ferguson Builders

The standout build at 18 Falconer Rise, Jacks Point, Queenstown, beautifully blends with nature – a unique testimony of Ferguson Builders’ craftmanship.

Ferguson Builders
Rob Ferguson moved to Christchurch from Scotland seven years ago, putting his exceptional skills to use, also building his own home, before moving to Queenstown with his wife Mel, from Invergargill, and two daughters. “This time I decided to build a comfortable family home exactly how we wanted. I appreciate the hard work and dedication from everyone involved.”

Rob says the geometric design was a challenge: roofline contours mirror the dramatic Remarkables backdrop to the east. Five-metre high ceilings let in light and mountain views above a schist stone feature-wall, which extends to the outside. An architectural feat by DF Designs, the exterior was cleverly angled to align the 760sqm section’s asymmetric shape.
Two pavilions form the four-bedroom home either side of the entranceway.

Ferguson Builders

Using eco-friendly components, the cladding is Siberian Larch – a dense, fast-growing, sustainable and cost-effective timber, it produces its own natural oils and doesn’t require staining. Exterior framework was an extra-thick 140mm and Maxraft polystyrene insulation was installed between the ground and the heated concrete flooring.
Expansive German aluminium windows have aesthetic timber-framing on the inside and are triple glazed. Mel designed the interior to blend with nature, incorporating striking black, white and neutral themes.

Ferguson Builders sources cost-effective, energy efficient solutions, passing savings onto its clients, which has included his neighbour. Renovation or new builds in Queenstown reflect the highest-quality workmanship from Rob and his skilled team of builders and apprentices.

Visit, find on Facebook and Ferg_Build on Instagram for stunning visuals of this inspiring project.


Golden Gate Lodge

A Southern Lodging: Golden Gate Lodge

Surrounded by mountain ranges, Cromwell is the heart of the Central Otago wine industry, a main fruit growing centre, location of one of the South’s best golf links and with Highlands Motorsport Park and Central Motor Speedway, a motor racing mecca.
Golden Gate Lodge

After the Clutha River (Mata-Au) was dammed at Clyde in the early 1990s, Cromwell’s revitalisation as a great place to live and work, and a vibrant visitor destination, has never ceased. Following a recent multi-million dollar metamorphosis of Golden Gate Lodge, The Gate Hospitality and Tourist Centre emerged as four distinct attractions on the one landscaped and easy parking site at the corner of State Highway 8B (linking Highway 6 and Highway 8) and Barry Avenue.

Seven days a week from 11am to 10.30pm, Five Stags Bar & Restaurant at The Gate welcomes locals and passing travellers to an appropriately Central Otago hunting lodge theme. The restaurant area is cleverly separated from the bar which also features an authentic corrugated iron and exposed frame hunter’s hut rich in memorabilia. Five Stags is home to Cromwell’s famous Black Panther Pizza.

Forage Information Centre & Café at The Gate is an exciting concept providing amazing food from 6am to 4pm in a spacious, modern environment with spectacular views and luxury toilet facilities.

With 47 standard and premium rooms, all with breathtaking Central Otago views, and a standalone conference and events centre, Harvest Hotel at The Gate is Cromwell’s only hotel. Super Liquor, The Gate’s fourth brand, is the place to go for Central Otago wines.

Queenstown’s Catalyst Trust

Southern though leaders: Queenstown’s Catalyst Trust

Queenstown’s Catalyst Trust provides a forum for sharing ideas and debating some of the big issues facing Southern Lakes and the rest of the world – and the concept has really taken off.

Queenstown’s Catalyst Trust

As is often the case, Catalyst was formed over a few coffee conversations between like-minded locals who wanted to make a difference. AJ Mason, who describes his day job as “technology strategist,” co-chairs the trust with former Queenstown Lakes District Councillor Cath Gilmour. He says they wanted to offer people mental challenges and intellectual stimulation in a place that is more commonly known for its physical challenges and outdoor activities.

The aim is to bring together compelling speakers, respected thought leaders, subject-matter and policy experts and present them to an audience that has a thirst for knowledge and a desire to interact, exchange bright ideas, ask questions and voice opinions. “We want to spark solutions; collaboration; team-work; innovative and provocative thinking; creativity; and an understanding of each other’s perspectives,” AJ says.

This month Catalyst hosts an affordable housing forum, which is expected to generate a high level of interest. Speakers include Housing Minister Phil Twyford, Generation Rent author and economist Shamubeel Eaqub, and Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust chair Martin Hawes. Can We Ever Fix Queenstown’s Housing Crisis? is on Thursday 30 August at 7pm at Queenstown Memorial Centre.

For more information, visit


Audi quattro Winter Games New Zealand

Cream of winter’s Crop: Audi quattro Winter Games New Zealand

One of the world’s top five international winter sports events takes centre stage in the Southern Lakes later this month. Wanaka, Queenstown and Naseby play host to Audi quattro Winter Games New Zealand, which showcases the most talented elite athletes in skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey and curling.

Audi quattro Winter Games New Zealand

Beginning on Friday 24 August with a spectacular opening ceremony in Wanaka, Winter Games NZ is aiming to build on the growing national interest in snow sports and the higher profile it is currently enjoying. That is largely thanks to teenage sensations Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and Nico Porteous, who both won bronze medals for New Zealand at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in South Korea in February. The two young Wanaka residents are confirmed starters for Winter Games NZ and are bound to captivate the audience again with their flips and tricks, as they did in Pyeongchang.

The glamour event of Winter Games NZ is the FIS (International Ski Federation) Junior Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships, held at Cardrona Alpine Resort near Wanaka. It’s a prestigious competition expected to attract an impressive international lineup and new Games Chief Executive Marty Toomey is excited at the prospect.
“The cream of the world’s young talent will compete, along with our own leading junior freeskiers and snowboarders,” Marty says. “And we will undoubtedly see many of them on the podium in 2022 at the Beijing Olympic Winter Games.”

Audi quattro Winter Games NZ runs from 24 August to 8 September. For the full sports programme and other events, visit



New attraction gets off the ground: iFLY

With no jumping, parachutes or planes required, now anyone can fly like Superman – on a cushion of air.


Arrow International’s team worked in blazing heat and falling snow to get iFLY, Queenstown’s sensational new attraction off the ground this winter. Arrow was involved in the design phase of the $15 million project, giving buildability and programming input before being awarded the main build contract.
The skydiving facility involves an 8m deep basement and wind turbines that sit on top of the building. The turbines blow air around the building, into the basement, and then project it up through the centre of the building to create a ‘flight chamber’. People float on a column of air rising up to 5m above the ground.
The Queenstown building design, drawn up by local Walker Group Architects, is the first of its kind for New Zealand. This iconic build is a joint project between Sky Venture International, which manufactures iFLY vertical wind tunnels and Kiwi residents Emma and Gary Beyer. Emma Beyer was on the British skydiving team winning the 2006 world champs, while her husband Gary is a former world champion and 18-time US champion.
Emma comments that “we originally approached iFLY in 2011 with a view to launching an indoor skydiving facility in New Zealand. Before tendering for construction even started, a huge amount of work went into finding and researching the right location. The consenting process was especially time-consuming and challenging due to the central Queenstown location, and the appearance of the building needed to fit well with the surrounding architecture and alpine backdrop. It’s unique as it is unlike any of the other 67 iFLY sites around the world.”

Nick Hamlin, Arrow’s Southern General Manager says, “The site is wedged between two existing buildings making construction activities incredibly difficult. The site is very tight and steep and on one of the busiest streets in Queenstown for foot traffic, which leads up to the gondola. A major tower crane was used on site to construct the super structure and install all the 12 tonne wind turbines.
“The basement area is approximately 8m in the ground, with the top of the building lifting up to 14m – making it a massive concrete structure that had to be systemic designed for the alpine location.”
The 450mm-thick basement walls required specialised pouring systems brought in from Christchurch and a special free-flowing concrete to pour the massive walls. Highly technical, the wind tunnel and most of the technology for the project have come from Texas.
Construction Project Manager Bruce Halligan, Project/Senior Site Manager Brian Macmillan, Quantity Surveyor Gerry Lyons and Project Administrator Kirsty Tamatea were supported by an enthusiastic team of subcontractors.
“It’s been a tough but very rewarding build, with a lot of very technical details and low build tolerances that add to the challenge – we all can’t wait for the opportunity to try out the tunnel itself.”