From owning a coach business in the UK to launching V8 Trike Tours in Tauranga, the past five years have been a roaring success for one rowdy tourism operator.
Nigel Busbridge's five-seater V8 motortrikes are unique to New Zealand.
"The first place I saw them was in Napier," Busbridge said.
"There was a guy named Victor that got one operating down there. I went down with my wife for a weekend and saw it driving around, and I had a conversation with the guy and found out that they were built in New Zealand and nowhere else.
"I said to my wife 'those vehicles would definitely work off of the cruise ship operation at the Mount'."
After putting the feelers out to buy one, two were found that had been recently shipped to Fiji.
"We had both of them sent back, completely refurbished. Now we've been operating … this is our fifth year and to be honest if we could buy more of these trikes we would have them.
"Maybe not at this present time with the climate like it is due to the Covid restrictions, but when the ships are in, these are certainly one of the crowd-pullers for the tourists, particularly the Australians."
Like many other Mount Maunganui businesses that rely heavily on cruise ship passengers, Covid has hit hard.
"It's been a huge impact on our business," Busbridge said.
"We're lucky in that we don't have any finance on the vehicles, they're all owned outright. I would have said the cruise ship operation was 80 per cent of our income if not slightly more."
To fill the gap, the business had to think differently, and now caters for a variety of group bookings – from birthdays and Christmas parties to one-off occasions. And for the first time in five years of operating Busbridge says the bikes will be separated.
"From the beginning of January we're going to be operating one from the iSite on Fenton St in Rotorua, which will be primarily operating tours to the Green and Blue Lakes and out to the Redwoods. And if demand requires it, we'll send another one."
But there's only one thing Busbridge, and every other business at the Mount, will be wishing for this Christmas ...
"We're desperate for the Australian market to come back."
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