Climbing to new heights in Canterbury

Nestled in the Port Hills is one of Canterbury’s newest attractions – Christchurch Adventure Park.  An ambitious project combining chair lifts, zipline, mountain bike trails, and café/function centre, the park opened in December 2016 and welcomed more than 50,000 visitors in its first seven weeks.  Then disaster struck.  On 13 February 2017, fire ripped through the Port Hills, ultimately damaging three quarters of the park and forcing its closure.

“It was incredibly disheartening for the team, but there was a silver lining, as we had time to work on things over 2017 and we re-opened stronger than ever,” says Sheena Crawford, Christchurch Adventure Park’s Sales and Marketing Manager.

Part of the reopening plan included joining Qualmark.

“Qualmark brings considerable prestige in the tourism industry and is held in very high esteem among regional tourism organisations.  It signifies you have excellent processes and safety assurances.  We considered Qualmark to be fundamental in our business planning and the assessment preparation provided the management team with a useful self-auditing protocol,” says Sheena.

In late 2017 the Christchurch Adventure Park Management Team began the Qualmark licensing process, cross-referencing the evaluation checklist against its own systems.  Qualmark Tourism Business Advisor Peter Clinton-Baker provided advice and informal support from his base in Mapua, Nelson, ahead of his assessment visit.

“Peter was great to talk to during the preparation phase.  When it came to our evaluation visit we involved the entire staff.  We set up Peter with one of our coaches for a mountain bike lesson and he explored the park before returning to base and going through the assessment paperwork,” says Sheena.

Understanding the business is a crucial part of the Qualmark assessment process, says Peter.

“How we approach a first evaluation is quite different to a re-visit.  It’s important to learn about the business’ drivers, to get a feel for its set up and explore the product – listen to the way they tell their story to customers, and receive a safety briefing.  By doing this first you get an understanding of the core business and its vision and how it is structured, and it puts you in a better position to go through the business compliance and health and safety information with the staff,” he says.

“Second and subsequent visits are quite different in that we drill down to the specific areas of the business quite quickly, looking at areas of improvement and where processes have been updated.  As Tourism Business Advisors, we always try to find new areas where businesses can develop and improve – providing professional development and advice.”

Christchurch Adventure Park emerged from its first Qualmark assessment with a silver endorsement.

“We were very impressed with the silver result and know exactly what we need to do to improve. Sustainability is a big area that we want to improve upon, reducing our impact across all areas of the business, and continuing to improve customer experience. We’ll certainly be vying for gold at our next assessment in a years’ time,” says Sheena.