After 25 years in the corporate world, Gavin Oliver arrived in New Zealand in 2008 with a young family and a visa that gave him 24-months to establish a business or get unceremoniously sent home. With no experience of tourism and little knowledge of New Zealand, plus a vow to never wear a suit and tie again, Gavin first established a successful sightseeing business, Milestone Tours, which he sold in 2012. In the same year Gavin’s next venture, EcoZip Adventures, opened on Waiheke Island. Based on a belief that conservation and commercialism can go hand-in-hand, EcoZip has proven to be a huge success, and a second location was due to open in Kaikoura in Q4 2020 until COVID-19 intervened. Like many in the tourism industry, Gavin is now working on how to create a runway until global tourism picks up again while also looking at what potential there is in the domestic market.
In this respect, Gavin believes that businesses need to focus more on collaboration than competition and Waiheke Island has set an example for this with their ON THE HOUSE campaign which sees more than 80 Waiheke homeowners and accommodation providers donating their rental houses, baches and hotel rooms, (Friday, June 19 and Saturday, June 20) for a clever campaign designed to stimulate the struggling island economy. The idea is simple. Visitors to the island will rent one of the participating properties, and homeowners will indeed let them stay ON THE HOUSE. The rental fee will be passed on and converted into “Waiheke dollars”, a spending credit for goods and services redeemable across the island.