Owner delighted to ride wave of success

By Alice Lock

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STOKED: Takaro Trails owner Jenny Ryan
STOKED: Takaro Trails owner Jenny Ryan

Takaro Trails owner Jenny Ryan could not believe she took out the Supreme Award from the Hawke's Bay Tourism Industry Awards on Thursday night.

She was in Auckland at the New Zealand Tourism Awards when she got the text telling her she had won the small business prize, but she had no idea there would be more to come.

"Just as John Key was speaking I saw that I won the small business award but I felt rude being on my phone so I put it down for half an hour. When I picked it up again I had a flood of texts saying I had also won the supreme award."

She said she was still in shock and never expected to receive the top award after entering her business for the first time this year.

In Auckland Takaro Trails made the final three for the Business Excellence Award - annual turnover less than $6 million, supported by Westpac, which Ms Ryan was "thrilled" about.

The small business launched in 2009 after she was inspired by the Otago Rail Trail and previous rides through the South of France.

"I had a goal to draw people to New Zealand or Hawke's Bay who otherwise would not come." She sold her travel agency in Auckland and studied a sport science diploma at EIT and realised she needed to come up with a plan so she could relocate to the region.

"I just felt cycling would go really well here with the food and wine that is on offer and the quiet country roads."

She has always loved the area and had a strong connection with it, as her dad was born here and helped with the re-build after the 1931 earthquake. Takaro Trails' opening weekend managed to coincide with John Key's announcement of the New Zealand cycle project.

"I managed to fluke that, but it has made a massive impact as it went from the 50km rotary trail to 200km of trail."

When the company started Ms Ryan said their core service was the self-guided multi day tour.

"We had such a wide range of people from those attending a conference to family holidays but it was mostly a domestic market."

Last year they launched a luxury tour package in Sydney, which offered a cycle tour and accommodation at Cape Kidnappers Lodge, Greenhill Lodge and Breckenridge Lodge.

"It is taking off, we have had people from all over the world come and it is something that cannot be offered anywhere else in New Zealand."

She said it has been really exciting because she has had people come to Hawke's Bay just to do the tour then go again.

"It is a higher price point which is good for us and it is also keeping tourists in the region longer which is good for Hawke's Bay."

Takaro Trails had previously managed with two full time staff members but Ms Ryan said with its continued growth they were looking to expand.

"Last year we had a growth of 40% so we are taking on two more full time staff for the summer months and are having six contractors to help with guiding. We are expecting to reach a similar growth to last year, which is exciting."

She said it was a real privilege to own a business in Hawke's Bay and was excited to see what else is to come for Takaro Trails over the summer months.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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