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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.”



Jason Whitelaw

Creating an ‘extraordinary’ city: Jason Whitelaw

“There has to be a point of difference,” says Jason Whitelaw, hospitality specialist, developer, builder, foodie and regular globetrotter.


Jason Whitelaw


Jason practices what he preaches; even back in in his living in London days, he ran an upmarket Mayfair pub – so far, very Kiwi, but Jason’s pub became renowned for hosting the a-listers. It was, after all, none other than Guy Ritchie’s establishment, The Punchbowl in Farm Street.  Jason clearly has his finger on the pulse and he knows the places that we are seeking before we do to enjoy good food, drink and style. Our city’s rebuild has attracted criticism for an obsession with glass and steel, missing the opportunity for creating an ‘extraordinary’ Christchurch. Jason however, seems to be onto it.


His current hospo masterstroke is Louis Champagne and Oyster Bar. Sophisticated but not overblown, its owner, like Louis XV, is keen on architecture, design and innovation and Jason has produced one of Christchurch’s most stunning and elegant bars around. Having had a lot to do with horse racing, combining champagne and glamour, naturally there is a focus on Cup Week at Louis, with events held right through the spring carnival, starting with Melbourne Cup through to the Hagley Park Polo in January.
Next door is Red Light District, which is cleverly concealed behind the drycleaner’s façade, Charlie Winston’s of Chelsea. Themed around a Chinese opium den with an emphasis on high-end cocktails, Red Light District captures the atmosphere and character that those of us who come of age in Christchurch have been craving for these past eight years.

New venture You Hanoi Me, Pho Disco and Honky Tonk will complete the trifecta in the foodie, cocktail destination that is the Vicinity Precinct on Victoria Street. Despite recent negative press about the street, business is booming and may just be due to Jason’s insight. With another new destination looming for Jason’s Hospitality Group, Bar Bar Black Sheep Ltd sees the old Saggio site, a gentle stroll away, set to be a new Greek restaurant that Jason is launching.
Jason really is diverse and and burns the candle at both ends; developing and building keeps him extremely busy with projects on all around town. From the 300 worker accommodation that is the innovative Workotel in Riccarton, to hugely successful developments like Flemington and Clearwater Springs, Jason keeps going and has recently launced his latest project, Verdeco Park at Lincoln.


This is set to be New Zealand’s first ‘Wellness Subdivision’ and Jason says our country is making great strides in environmental sustainability. “But I want to extend that to the whole development, from the ground up,” he adds.
With innovative design and eco management, this could possibly be a benchmark for developers going forward. It’s obvious that Jason has worked hard. A strong work ethic and ‘blue sky thinking’ enables him to put these deals together and produce some quite extraordinary venues. An ability to see what we want and execute it has put both himself and his projects firmly on the map in Christchurch and it appears that there is more to come – so watch this space.



Drifters Inn

Hospitality and ambience: Drifters Inn

Location, location, location – you really can’t say it any other way when you’re talking about the Drifters Inn. Located straight across from the thermal pools and close to the town centre, it’s ideally located for your event in the idyllic Hanmer Springs.

Drifters Inn


With a welcoming environment, people come from all over New Zealand to enjoy the relaxed ambience and hospitality here. Catering to birthdays, work events, special occasions and much more, the friendly, knowledgeable staff customise your event.
Catering can be arranged, but with barbecues, a well-equipped kitchen area, as well as a spacious open lounge/function area and courtyard, there’s plenty of scope to create your own bespoke function. With 18 rooms available to suit couples to families, you can relax by the open fireplace after a day of events.

So, make your way to the Drifters Inn, 2 Harrogate Street or contact Adele or Andy to discuss your requirements 03-315 7554 or

Dream It

Lifting the bar: Dream It makes the imagination of Christchurch’s hospitality industry a reality

It may be a commercial art and theming company based on the northern edge of the city, but Dream It Ltd has been helping to raise the bar for nightlife throughout the city, both in the figurative and literal sense.

Dream It

When hospitality owner and developer Max Bremner wanted to renovate Yellow Cross in Sol Square, he approached owner of Dream It, Dean Johnstone. With the ability to conceptualise and create themes, the company has completed about 23 bars. And, although the earthquakes put paid to the Yellow Cross renovations, they opened up the opportunity for another job, three years later.
When Max rebuilt popular Irish bar The Bog on Victoria Street, he tasked Dean with the radical new ‘steampunk’ themed décor, before the contract extended to include the signage and overall interior theme, including the back bar whisky displays etc.
“Dean did an absolutely magnificent job,” Max says.
“He’s an extremely talented man I wouldn’t use anyone else. The success of our bars has very much come down to his artistic talent.”
When Max went on to purchase and develop the building alongside the Strip with Richard Peebles last year, Dean was tasked with the theming of the three hospitality venues which made their commercial homes here – Fat Eddies, Kong and Original Sin, working alongside Architectural Designer John Ayers.
“It was a great opportunity, with its challenges, creating three completely unique environments,” Dean says.
The latest fitout for Max has been the new Bealey Ave Steak and Alehouse earlier this year. Previously part of the Speights Alehouse brand with its Dunedin specific branding, Max has created a Christchurch focused theme, with Dean responsible for bringing his plans to life.

Dream It “The Bealey was particularly challenging because it was a live bar,” Dean says.
“While the work was being carried out, people would be drinking at the bar and you know we’re all experts when we’re having a few,” he laughs about the unsolicited advice from patrons.
“On a more serious note, we did what it took to work around a functional bar, building throughout the night, early in the morning and doing what we could off site. That’s the range of capabilities we have.
“We’ve had a seven-year long relationship with Max and it’s still going strong.”