Tourism pivot idea proven a success—Nature & Nosh

The Rocketspark team have been working extra hard to help clients through the impacts of Covid and the founders wanted to treat the team as a special thank you.  A day spent outdoors with a mix of exercise, mindfulness and ‘local’ food was just the ticket.

As a business we’ve been fortunate to be in a position to pack-up our desks and all work from home as we went into lockdown. Like everyone else in a similar situation, we had to very quickly adapt and figure out how to work remotely—well, and together.

Many of our clients operate relying on delivering face to face service such as retail, hospitality, tourism and trades and it’s been encouraging to see how resilient and innovative these businesses have been in the face of extreme business disruption.  

One of the great innovations was by Kylie Rae and the team at Nature & Nosh.

A unique business idea

The Rocketspark team had heard from Kylie Rae, a long-time Rocketspark client, that she had a new proposition (pivot) that she wanted to launch and it seemed like the perfect fit for our treat day for the team.

Kylie’s business Nature & Nosh pre-COVID was focussed entirely on International Tourism which of course had come to a screeching halt in New Zealand and so she’d come up with an idea to get her business up and running again, all the while supporting the trend of getting kiwis to explore their own backyard—in style, and well fed!

With the nation's new found enthusiasm for the outdoors and walking (brought on by lockdown and the many, many laps around the neighbourhood block!) Kylie wanted to extend this concept of getting out in nature to clear and refresh the mind, to the workplace.

Living and breathing NZ herself, Kylie already had a grasp on the expectations of New Zealanders when it comes to travel, adventure and catering, even locally. Operating her own tourism business for a few years at Nature & Nosh she already knew how to put together an itinerary, and so all that was left to do before launching her new corporate/business packages was to test the concept on a willing team! 

Building an itinerary for the Rocketspark team

Hearing about Kylie's new business plan, we knew instantly that this kind of adventure would be the perfect fit for the team, the timing couldn’t have been better and we signed up to be test pilots. 

Based on insights on the team, Kylie set about putting together a full afternoon-to-evening agenda, one that would prove both relaxing and exhilarating, and best of all a huge surprise!

Quieting the mind with meditation and exercise

Secretive instructions were sent to Rocketspark team two weeks before the event, with just enough information for us to turn up in appropriate clothing. After a morning of work and anticipation for the soon-to-begin event, we all piled into the directors cars and off we went.

To our excitement we arrived at the highly popular tourist destination and education centre at Sanctuary Mountain, Maungatautari. The name lends itself well to being a place of relaxation and positivity—so far so good.

We huddled-up for our welcome briefing, without any restrictions of having to socially distance ourselves from one another. Instead, the focus was purely on Kylie and what she had in store for us.

First up, it was shoe and bag inspection time! Sanctuary Mountain’s conservation area is an ancient ecosystem covering 3400 hectares, and has one of the largest pest-proof fences in the world at 47km long. We certainly didn’t want to be importing any unwanted creatures!

Our first task was a mindfulness hike which meant silence while walking for 30 minutes to enable us to take in the sights and smells of nature, without distraction—this may or may not have proved a challenge for a few of our more extroverted team members (no names mentioned of course), however this simple exercise was a great success and something a lot of the team felt they could incorporate into their everyday lives—plus Kylie gave us some info we could take away and practice at home.

Learning to forage the NZ bush

In contrast to the peacefulness of the bush walk, next up was a somewhat ‘wild’, wild food foraging session with Ash, a survival expert at Barefoot Foragers. Into the bush we went to discover an edible native world. I can say with confidence that we were all firstly not expecting that, and also surprised to learn that there’s so much human food available in the bush—and most of this bounty can also be found in backyard weeds!

Being respectful of the maunga (mountain) Ash then took us back out of the sanctuary enclosure where we actually picked some of the roadside weeds for a tasting session.

Afternoon tea at the bush boardroom table

After our foraging session, we continued to walk a little further into the forest guided by Sanctuary Mountain forest and bird expert Sue. Suddenly, there it was, just sitting there in the middle of the bush—a large wooden bush boardroom table laden with interesting dishes I can’t say I’d ever seen before.

It wasn’t long after we had inspected the feast made by our foraging guru Ash, that we all started hoovering down on the chickweed pesto, kawakawa tonic, pan-fried hen and chic korus in garlic and other wild delicacies. 

Important note: Ash had foraged the kai (food) elsewhere and brought it into the bush boardroom!

A night-time glow-worm kayak on Lake Karāpiro

Thinking that surely nothing could beat the experience we’d already had, we headed down the road to Lake District Adventures on the banks of Lake Karāpiro. It was still light out so we had another bite to eat, a few drinks and headed off with Steve, owner and talented tour guide.

I actually haven’t laughed that much in a long time. We managed to all stay afloat throughout the trip, despite my lack of paddling etiquette (according to my colleague who was ‘apparently’ getting soaked in the back of the kayak).

Starting at the picturesque Lake District Adventures HQ at sunset, we paddled along the southern edge of Lake Karapiro and over the old submerged Horahora Village and the dam that produced electricity for the early Waihi goldfields. We then continued up the Pokaiwhenua Stream and through the canyon carved out by water over many hundreds of years—an incredibly beautiful part of the lake. We stopped on the bank for a hot drink, a short sit down comedy session ensued as we waited for the last remnants of daylight to disappear.  Like the mindfulness walk earlier in the day, this had the same vibe. We drifted downstream gently in silence alongside thousands of glow-worms—and it was an incredible thing to see.

Having all had a great day getting to know each other a little better while experiencing something new, we headed home with clear minds and full stomachs. 

We were all able to recharge and refresh and we hope to be back on one of Nature & Nosh’s New Zealand adventures in the near future.  
Thank you Kylie and team for not giving up when the going got tough this year, and for delighting us all with your innovation and adventure.