Hokianga-based eco-tourism business Whispering Trails has won a major regional business award which it says will allow it to take its operation to the next step.
The business offers guided packages ranging from foraging bush walks in the Waima Forest ranges, gathering shellfish in the harbour, land-based fishing at local spots in the Hokianga, or hunting wild game such as pigs, goats and a variety of game birds.
It is the winner of $30,000 in Top Energy's Business Development Fund, which includes business mentoring.
Business owners Maria Kire and Joe Wynyard said that the win will allow the business to push in to new markets in New Zealand and overseas.
She said the small business could grow to create sustainable employment opportunities for locals.
Kire said Whispering Trails was "an invitation for people to share in their lifestyle. To participate in traditional hunting and gathering practices and to embrace a cultural experience that is far removed from mainstream tourism."
She said the business was an extension of their cultural values and commitment to environmental sustainability.
The concept of maanaki - to cherish, sustain and conserve - is at the heart of the business.
The couple have extensive experience in tourism.
Wynyard founded the business two years ago and has worked for many years as a hunting guide in the area.
A two-hour shellfish gathering experience costs $60 for an adult and gathered food is cooked at the end of it and eaten with Maori bread.
The award judges said they were impressed by the level of detail shown and the completeness of the business plan.
The judges also liked the idea of their digital detox holidays, which appealed to corporate customers wanting to switch off and immerse themselves in nature.
Top Energy launched its Business Development Fund in 2014. It is designed to encourage and promote economic growth in the Far North.