First pizzas, now pumpkins.

A rapid diversification into home delivery is paying dividends for a previously locked-down Central Otago business.

Darryl Peirce runs Peirce Orchard at Millers Flat - better known to passers-by as The Pumpkin Place — which a fortnight ago was forced to shut down its roadside shop to comply with coronavirus restrictions.

Reacting quickly to the change in circumstances, he activated fruit and vege home delivery website theorchardshop.nz, and appealed to the Ministry for Primary Industries for registration as an essential service.

Advertisement

Industry body Horticulture NZ had been instrumental in helping his business achieve that status last week, and the new enterprise made its first deliveries on Friday, April 3.

Critical to the new accreditation was the "contactless" nature of the service, he said.

"Payment is online, and we only leave the truck to drop packages at people's gates, not touching any gates, bells or doors, so contact is basically zero."

He said customers — most of whom were previously regulars at the orchard shop — seemed ''extremely grateful'' to still be able to obtain their fresh produce.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

"We do a run south round Gore, Balclutha, Milton and back up to Millers Flat for more than 100 customers, and probably chalk up 200km a day.

"The response has been overwhelming."

Given the positive reception, Peirce said he was now thinking of other online applications.

Advertisement

"Maybe this is the way to do business in future."