An Operator’s View: Glenstrae Farm’s Alastair Trewin

Alastair Trewin (second from right) leads a tour group around Glenstrae Farm. Image: Glenstrae Farm

Land-based tourism operators in the Kaikoura region are struggling to get back on their feet but Glenstrae Farm 4 Wheel Adventures’ Alastair Trewin is trying to turn the disaster to his advantage.

We’ve been running four-wheel motorbike tours on our Kaikoura farm for 18 years and we are now one of the only land-based tourism activities still operating after the earthquake. I think we’re about the last one left.

It’s been a bloody struggle, and it still is a struggle. We’re about 90% back on where we should be in terms of annual revenue – at least. We’re located in the Hundalee Hills about 27km south of Kaikoura and we just can’t get people here because the road is closed half the time.

It is meant to be open from Friday morning until Monday evening but last week it was only open for Saturday and Sunday and it going to be like that again for another few week because they are trying to do work. It makes it tricky to manage bookings.

Before the earthquake, we would normally used to do three trips a day of four to six people every day over the peak summer season, but I’ve only got six trips booked until the end of the year, and I’ve just had to cancel two more because the road is going to be closed for longer.

I’ve got my safety audit coming up, and it makes me wonder if it’s worth doing because it’s quite expensive. I mean, hey, it’s one of those things, and they are prepared to help us out with a payment schedule when we hopefully get busy so we will end up doing it.

We couldn’t get insurance because we are too small an operator – we really grilled our insurance company but they said we would be paying too much for it as a premium.

One thing we have done since in the last year is start up an Earthquake tour as a new product here at the farm, which we offer as an alternative to our four-wheel motorbike farm tours.

I bought a new Yamaha Six to do the tours – it’s a four-wheeler and it has six seats and is very comfortable. The tour is about three hours – we have the Hundalee Hills fault at our back door so we can get right up close and show people the damage first hand.

We had [Instagram travel influencer] Bare Kiwi and a few photographers here the other with the anniversary of the earthquake. They were quite shocked at all the damage that is out there – one of the comments was “I thought we were just going to do a farm tour, but this is so much more”.

We are quite different, we’re not just a bike ride – its pretty bloody scenic here. The farm is on the coastline and we’ve got our own seal colony on the property – hundreds of them sitting there.

And now we’ve got these big fault lines down the back of our place and that is what we take people into – it’s a pretty big fault line – its goes right across the valley. It would just be nice to be getting a bit more business now that Kaikoura is getting busier.

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