A unique Kiwi business that launched just before New Zealand entered level 4 lockdown will soon be able to offer rides in the best bubbles in town.
Taupo locals James and Laurel Kells spent more than a year painstakingly researching and planning their small tourism venture Doughboats.
The bright pink boats that resemble donuts had just hit the water on Lake Taupo when Covid-19 hit and shut the new business.
"We had just started to get the word out there and had some fully booked weekends," Laurel Kells said.
"It was tricky enough launching the business, importing the boats and getting consent and then the hits kept coming with the lockdown."
Heading into lockdown so soon after they launched their business was just another bump in the road for the couple.
The year they were planning the business was also a year of rehabilitation and recovery for James after he was badly burned in a bonfire accident.
When Laurel was 37 weeks pregnant, James suffered severe burns from above his knees to his toes from a bonfire.
He spent three weeks at Waikato Hospital and had to have numerous painful skin graft surgeries.
"We had been through so much before the business launched we just had to laugh at the situation - it was either laugh or cry," Kells said.
"That was pretty tough for us but I think what we went through gave us the strength to get through everything else."
The couple, desperate to get away from hospital, had baby Sophia, now 15 months old, at home.
The pair said despite the financial pressures of lockdown they were accepting of the journey and optimistic for the future.
Before the business closed word was starting to spread and the three boats were fully booked.
Doughboats - small circular boats topped with a cabana-style roof and a round table at the centre surrounded with a bench seat - had been getting rave reviews before the business had to close.
"People absolutely loved them, it's a very unique way to enjoy Lake Taupo and for people to connect," Kells said.
The boats were booked for birthdays, family outings and corporate team building days.
"People can take wine and cheese or order pizza that we can deliver to them at the jetty and then they just enjoy each other's company - the round table means everyone is involved and no one can escape."
As the possibility of level 2 approaches the couple are looking forward to being able to get previously house-bound Kiwis out on the water.
"We will have precautions in place to keep people safe and stop any potential spread of the virus," Kells said.
"We have the added bonus that the boats are their own little bubbles and people on them are together and not mingling with other tourists."
The Kells have spent the weeks in level 3 preparing their business to kick off in level 2 - including improving their jetty.
"We are really looking forward to getting people out on the lake for those sunny winter days," Kells said.
"This would have been perfect with the sunny days during lockdown but we have bought heaters and blankets and can't wait to get people out there."