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HomeGeneral TourismWanaka Tour Operator finalist in the New Zealand Food Awards.

Wanaka Tour Operator finalist in the New Zealand Food Awards.

In a first for the New Zealand Food Awards, a Wanaka 4WD Tour Operator Ridgeline Adventures is a finalist in three categories in the awards. Ridgeline Adventures in any other year would not even come close to being involved in the Food and Beverage industry, but 2020 is not like any other year.

This year the New Zealand Food Awards has pivoted from showcasing New Zealand’s best food and beverage producers to the recognition of the kiwi spirit to keep the food supply chain going during the COVID-19 response.

They received over 340 outstanding nominations reflecting innovation and true community spirit. Among the finalists are Ridgeline Adventures of Wanaka making three of the six categories; Dream Team, Local Hero and Greater Good for volunteering their vehicles and drivers to deliver food to those in need during the lock down.

Finalists span from individuals to companies all doing their bit to help keep the food supply chain going. Ridgeline Adventures owner Mark Orbell and his team covered a daily shift seven days a week during lockdown, coordinating his team to enable essential goods to reach those who needed them. Ridgeline is the only tour operator finalist, which makes them a real standout.

Ridgeline Adventures operate 4WD trips and private high country walks in Wanaka, taking guests to some of the most incredible scenery that leave even Kiwi’s in awe. With 95 per cent of their business coming from the international market, the business saw the bulk of their forward bookings cancelled  when New Zealand closed its boarders.

Overnight business died. Being community focused Mark reached out to Volunteer South – Central Lakes (formally Volunteering Central) to see how Ridgeline could help during lockdown and was matched with New World to deliver groceries to those most vulnerable or who could not get to the shops themselves.

"We volunteered because we’ve always been about community and giving back. It was a no-brainer for us," says Mark.

“It’s been incredibly rewarding to visit people all over town who have been so appreciative for our service. Often we have been the only people they have physically spoken to in weeks. We became a connection to the outside world – boosting spirits on both sides."

The awards winners will be announced on October 8 at a Food Heroes Awards Celebration in Auckland. Ridgeline are also up for the People’s choice awards with voting open September 1-14.

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