For the first time, a Wānaka tour operator, Ridgeline Adventures, has been named a finalist in the New Zealand Food Awards.
The NZ Food Awards have this year pivoted from showcasing New Zealand’s best food and beverage producers to recognising kiwi spirit in keeping the food supply chain going during the COVID-19 response. They received over 340 nominations reflecting innovation and true community spirit.
Among the finalists were Ridgeline Adventures of Wānaka - which operates 4WD trips and high country walks in Wānaka - making three of the six categories (Dream Team, Local Hero and Greater Good) for volunteering their vehicles and drivers to deliver food during the lockdown.
With 95 per cent of their clients coming from the international market, the business saw the bulk of their forward bookings cancelled when New Zealand closed its borders.
Owner Mark Orbell reached out to Volunteer South - Central Lakes and was matched with New World to deliver groceries to those most vulnerable or who could not get to the shops themselves.
“It’s been incredibly rewarding to visit people all over town who have been so appreciative of our service,” said Orbell. “Often we have been the only people they have physically spoken to in weeks.”
Volunteer South - Central Lakes Manager Gillian White, said that Mark and his team played a vital role in the welfare response in the Upper Clutha.
"With no online deliveries in Wānaka, his team filled an essential gap in coordinating the roster seven afternoons a week getting groceries to our most vulnerable members of the community. This isn't the first time Mark has volunteered his team, and I'm sure it won't be the last,” she said.
The winners will be announced on October 8 at a Food Heroes Awards Celebration in Auckland.
Read edition 992 of the Wānaka Sun here.