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They have a slew of awards and are Akaroa’s #1 tourist experience on Trip Advisor. How did Pip and Hugh go from being farmers to high-end tourist operators?
Being sheep and beef farming fifth and sixth generation Banks Peninsulans, Pip and Hugh Waghorn could have kept on doing what they knew so well.
Instead they stuck their necks out and set up tourism operation, Akaroa Dolphins. It was their first time working in a competitive market – a bit different from farming.
Early on they knew they’d have to distinguish themselves from their opposition. It was a huge move that wasn’t without its risks.
In cruises we’re competing with other businesses, whereas in farming all farmers worked together at one similar goal.”Hugh Waghorn
Akaroa Dolphins clients get to cruise on a luxurious catamaran viewing marine mammals and volcanic scenery. But it’s a journey of discovery of all kinds – they get to learn all about the fascinating Maori and colonial history of the area.
Hugh and Pip are passionate about educating the public and protecting the marine environment, particularly the Hector’s Dolphin. Being deeply committed to the conservation of this special area, they had to learn how to get up close and personal with the animals yet have minimal impact on them.
The business grew fast but it wasn’t till they hit 15,000 passengers that they took a deep breath and hired more people. The risks had been worth it. The company now employs 12 locals.
Pip and Hugh reckon it’s good to keep it local and like the idea that Kiwibank profits stay in the community. They say they have a close and honest relationship with their bank manager and so feel that their successes become the bank’s successes.
Our advice for future entrepreneurs? Be 100% and don’t hide anything from your bank manager.”Pip Waghorn