Nelson cycle tour company Kiwi Journeys grows 300 percent during COVID-19 pandemic

Local demand has kept their business on track.
Local demand has kept their business on track. Photo credit: Kiwi Journeys

While many tourism companies are struggling with COVID-19 restrictions, one of the South Island's largest cycle tour operators Kiwi Journeys has grown their business by 300 percent during the pandemic. 

To develop the business even further, boss Andrew Schwass and his wife Sherie have announced it is joining New Zealand's largest e-bike franchise, Electrify NZ.

"So many of our customers ride our electric bikes, and then they want one for themselves, so taking on the franchise was a natural progression," Schwass said.

Kiwi Journeys started in 2012 with a fleet of just 12 bikes operating from a single location at Mapua. They've now served thousands of rental customers and maintain a fleet of 300 bikes with locations in Nelson, Mapua, Kaiteriteri and Hokitika on the West Coast.

Bike trails such as the Great Taste Trail and West Coast Wilderness Trail have proved very popular for both locals and tourists, Schwass said, and using an e-bike means riders can go faster and further.

"People want to get outside and explore our country and e-bikes are the perfect way to do that."

Customs import figures suggest that between 2014 and 2020 New Zealand's e-bike imports skyrocketed from about 2,000 units a year to 50,000 units. 

"People love e-bikes, and it has become obvious that e-bikes are the future of cycling in New Zealand," Schwass said.

"People can't travel but they still want to go somewhere and do things and that has also had a flow on effect for our business."

Schwass, who was born in Nelson, says the region is one of the e-bike hotspots in New Zealand.

"There are multiple parks and trails. People go out and ride the trails then go to one of the local craft breweries, wineries and eateries."

Electrify NZ has more than 70 independent dealers nationwide.