2019 11 04 Tourism Award

Industry Connections Award

Development West Coast's tourism team has won the Industry Connections Award at the 2019 New Zealand Tourism Awards.

DWC picked up the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment Industry Connections Award at the gala dinner held at Christchurch’s Horncastle Arena, attended by more than 430 industry leaders and supporters.

The award was recognition for the ‘Come through for the West Coast’ campaign, which was run following the reopening of the Waiho Bridge.

The loss of the Waiho Bridge in March during an extreme weather event created a major disruption to the tourism sector with the economic impact felt Coast-wide. The financial loss was estimated at $50.4 million.

After the bridge was rebuilt, DWC ran a $47,000 campaign to attract visitors back to the Coast in the lead up to the Easter Holidays.

DWC’s regional tourism manager Jim Little says the campaign successfully recreated visitor demand by bringing together eight regional promotions groups, the Department of Conservation, KiwiRail, Christchurch Airport and 229 tourism businesses from Karamea in the north to Haast in the south.

“It also fostered valuable ongoing connections between all those involved.”

Data from Paymark shows the West Coast had New Zealand’s biggest percentage increase in spending following the reopening of the Waiho Bridge, rising from $7.8m for the week ending 22 April in 2018 to $10m in 2019.

2019 11 04 Awards 2

2019 11 04 OutWest Tours

Buller in a Unimog. 

Explore the untamed natural wilderness of the West Coast with a scenic off-road four wheel-drive tour.

Owned and operated by Mickey and Doreen Ryan, Outwest Tours provides authentic West Coast experiences, taking visitors off the beaten track into the heart of the land.

Since 2001 they have offered tours in four wheel-drive vehicles through spectacular landscapes, historic gold mining trails and the open-cast Stockton mine.

To grow the business and create additional local employment, Mickey and Doreen approached DWC to assist with the establishment and development of ‘Johnny’s Journey’.

This tour provides a unique adventure through the Awakari Valley. Visitors can see wild deer, unusual rock formations, an ancient Māori cave, lush rainforest and get to hear off-the-grid landowner Johnny Currie tell bush lore and stories of how the pioneers lived.

“Outwest Tours would like to thank DWC for all their assistance over the last couple of years. Without the support from DWC Outwest Tours would not have succeeded in their venture,” Doreen says.

On the West Coast it is easy to take for granted the rich history and spectacular landscapes we have in our backyard. Take the opportunity to explore the Buller region with Mickey and Doreen in a reconditioned Unimog and hear some good old yarns from Johnny.

Ph: 0800 OUTWEST (0800 688 937)


Chrissy conducting wedding

Weddings West Coast

Up and down the West Coast, in offices and warehouses, home offices and kitchen tables, small businesses are flourishing. Development West Coast runs a nine-week programme called Co.Starters to equip aspiring entrepreneurs so they can turn ideas into action. Many of the businesses do not have a traditional store front, so in this series of Open for Business, the Greymouth Star and Development West Coast sample some of the emerging small enterprises that are helping shape the future.

With an abundance of stunning, dramatic and unique locations, the West Coast is a wedding destination like no other. Co.Starters graduate, Chrissy Freitas, wants to share this amazing part of the world with couples on their special day. Through her business Weddings West Coast, she provides affordable wedding packages on the West Coast.

Chrissy had her first taste of entrepreneurship when she helped open the Stationhouse Café in Moana in 1993. She fell in love with the area after visiting it on a regular basis for boating and water-skiing, which led to the crazy idea of starting the business.

The opening day turned out to be on the anniversary weekend for Moana, which they were completely unaware of and unplanned for.

“The day we opened the steam train rolled into Moana loaded with passengers. Being our first Café, we had very little experience, so it turned into quite a hilarious experience,” Chrissy says.

“We called anyone and everyone we knew to help, and our lack of waitressing skills led to orders being made like: ‘sandwich for the guy in the red hat’ or ‘coffee for the lady in the blue jacket’. By the end of the day we were beginning to wonder what we had done.”

The experience of running a Café in such a beautiful location led Chrissy to consider becoming a marriage celebrant. With the recommendation of the Greymouth Business Association at the time she went for it.

“Several Weddings were held over that time and at one stage we had the most amazing picture gallery of all the happy couples gracing our walls,” Chrissy says.

“It was a truly amazing privilege and experience for us, especially as time went by and the couples returned with children of their own.”
Lynda and Tony Le Brun’s wedding was one of the first Chrissy conducted. In a roundabout way, Lynda has now joined Chrissy at Weddings West Coast as a photographer – adding a new dimension to the business.

Chrissy says Weddings West Coast is dedicated to crafting exceptional, original occasions that truly embrace the meaning of love, with the West Coast’s scenic untamed natural wilderness as a backdrop.

“We now have Shantytown on board providing another unique location particularly for train and history buffs.

“Our aim is to provide affordable wedding packages and take out the stress of planning your amazing day. We want to showcase the West Coast as an amazing wedding destination,” she says.

To help develop her business Chrissy signed up for DWC’s Co.Starters programme being run by WestREAP in Greymouth.

“I decided to take the course to increase my knowledge and gather any ideas and information that could help move my business forward,” Chrissy says.

“I really enjoyed the course. It was great meeting such an amazing group of people and watching their incredible business ventures develop. Seeing all the amazing talent we have on the West Coast was one of the highlights.”

Weddings West Coast specializes in elopements, pop up weddings, registry style weddings, commitment ceremonies, renewal of vows, same sex weddings, for either small intimate or larger groups.

Wedding packages start from $500 for a registry style wedding or $5699 for a pop-up lakeside garden wedding with 30 guests. For more details see their website: www.weddingswestcoast.co.nz

If you would like to register an expression of interest in the Co.Starters business start-up and development programme for the new year, please contact Development West Coast at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Weddings West Coast

Weddings West Coast

2019 11 04 Reefton Tech Services

IT Services and Refurbished Computers

Carol Paterson is known as the ‘Computer Lady’ in Reefton, where she is the go-to person for computer inquiries.

Support from DWC is helping her business, Reefton Tech Services (RTS), fill a need for local, affordable and reliable IT services. RTS also offers refurbished desktop and laptop computers at an affordable price throughout the West Coast.

Carol has a background in community work and social development. Her business idea had its origins at the local charity 'Who Cares House', where she provided free IT troubleshooting services for locals. Carol has now turned her passion, and much needed services, into a formal business. She has also employed a local computer technician to help grow the business.

“Living and working in a small rural community ticks all the boxes for me, and although a business needs to make a profit, this business is seriously socially responsible,” she says.

Carol has a long family connection to the Coast.

“There is coal in my blood. My maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Jane Young, was born at Denniston in 1899.”

Carol is passionate about Reefton and its future and, in her own way, is making a valuable contribution to the local economy.

“With support from DWC, the future is looking bright for RTS. We can now confidently move forward with our planned future vision,” she says.

“This includes; public access to a computer suite, computer training, product sales and services, all housed in accessible premises.”

For more details contact:
Reefton Tech Services
Ph: 027 488 9919, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2019 10 10 Farewell

Development West Coast’s Chief Executive, Chris Mackenzie, is finishing his tenure with the Trust on 18 October.

Chris has had a long involvement with DWC, firstly as the negotiator for setting up the Trust and then as the Government Appointed Trustee of the interim Trust in 2001.

DWC chair Renee Rooney says Chris will be missed after his three-plus years in the CEO role.

“He not only brought an immense skill-set to the position; he also brought a unique knowledge of the organisation.

“We have been fortunate to have Chris at the helm during a time of significant organisational change. He has been instrumental in improving the provision of economic development on the Coast, leaving a far more coordinated approach to the region’s economic direction and development.

“On behalf of the Board and the staff at DWC, I sincerely thank Chris for the substantial contribution he has made to DWC and to the West Coast. I wish him a well-earned and enjoyable retirement with his wife Rosie,” Renee said.

Chris Mackenzie said it has been “a privilege to work with the Board of Trustees, and talented colleagues who will continue driving the region forward.”

“I feel DWC is in a strong position and has a great team in place to continue delivering on the Tai Poutini West Coast Economic Development Strategy.

“With the local body elections and the current review of DWC taking place, I felt it was an appropriate time to step aside to enable my successor to induct any new Trustees and add some fresh direction to the organisation,” Chris said.

Former West Coaster and current General Manager of ANZCO Foods UK, Heath Milne, is set to replace Chris as the new CEO.

Heath will commence his role in January 2020. Chief Financial Officer, Mark Dawson, will take on the interim CEO role when Chris finishes at DWC.