Drivers for tour companies around New Zealand have suddenly had to hit the brakes in response to the Covid 19 pandemic.
As cruise and tourist numbers disappeared overnight, some businesses are reinventing themselves in order to solve other problems presented by the crisis.
One such company keeping mini-van drivers moving is Headfirst, which normally runs links between airports and tour attractions around Queenstown, Dunedin and Auckland.
"To suddenly have zero customers was pretty sobering," said Evan Bloomfield, co-founder of Headfirst Travel.
Having just dropped off a group from a three-day tour on Stewart Island, Evan had little warning it would be his last tour.
"When the Government announced on March 14 that all travellers arriving in New Zealand would have to self-isolate for 14 days and cruise ships were banned until the end of June, we knew we were in for some tough times," he said.
Along with Headfirst co-founder Ralph Davies, they realised that they would have to come up with a new business quickly, and one that would use the skills of their tour operators and drivers to address the current problems posed by a pandemic.
Pivoting from driving tourists to delivering groceries and essential goods, the company has created a startup ToMyDoor which aims to make same-day deliveries for shoppers.
With 31 Headfirst staff to support and only 12 weeks of government wage subsidies to help tide over the business, this change of direction was essential. It was apparent there were tourism outfits around the country that were in a similar position.
Teaming up with 14 other tour operators around the country who were in a similar situation, in just over three weeks they were able to cover 50 per cent of New Zealanders, says Bloomfield.
With a network of operators as far apart as Whangarei and Nomad 4WD Safaris in Queenstown, the business has been able to redeploy drivers to make door-to-door deliveries.
David Gatward-Ferguson of Nomad Safaris immediately saw the value of the project. "He texted five minutes later to say he had three drivers keen to give it a go. They were delivering the next day," said Bloomfield.
Annemieke Luiten of Piwakawaka tours was contacted by Evan to become the partner for ToMyDoor in Whangarei.
"I think it's great that people are getting off their arses and doing something about it," she said.
With training and PPE supplied for sanitising the vehicle and driviers, it's a project that she was able to get involved in quickly.
Saying that until the country drops below Level 3 "businesses are going to have be creative in how they can diversify and pivot, just to keep going."
It's a lifeline for tourism companies as much as it is those employed by the sector.
Allowing skydiving companies in Wanaka to make their rounds in the company car or the Nomad land cruisers to keep moving is another way for companies to stay mobile for however long the pandemic measures last.
"We don't expect to see another tourist booking for nine-months at least," says, for international visitors that could be much longer."
Although many tour companies are already wondering how to pivot to serve a domestic market, ToMyDoor is a quick bolt-on to businesses waiting to see how long emergency measures will be in place. With all the infrastructure and drivers in place already, tour guides can quickly train in the necessary safety measures and delivery process and be up and running within 24 hours.
For more information visit tomydoor.kiwi