Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Meet the People - 47
Another in the Series Meet the People - Ordinary and Extraordinary New Zealanders Doing Interesting Things - Keith Tyler-Smith and Jane McKenzie have turned their backs on national trends and have exchanged the rush of the city (Christchurch) for a quiet, unhurried lifestyle in the tiny village of Woodbury, near the equally unhurried town of Geraldine, in South Canterbury. It's a return home for Jane. She was born there, christened there, married there; and it's her passion for the region that has sparked the couple's latest venture, South Canterbury Tours.
St Thomas's, Woodbury It's taken five years of intensive research and planning for Keith and Jane to come up with their final tour concept - broadly speaking a two-pronged approach that includes Heritage & Culture and Food & Wine, though both can be specifically tailored to individual visitor needs. It goes without saying that Jane has a love for and a pride in the region she grew up in and she and Keith are great believers in local and regional tourism - showing off the best of the often-forgotten corners of New Zealand that reveal the true heart of the country.
Jane with local organic food producers
Old lime kilns at Kakahu, South Canterbury And like most of rural New Zealand, South Canterbury harbours a wealth of interest - innovative food and wine producers, quaint, historic, rural churches, landmark buildings, old limestone kilns, working farms, salmon farming, Maori rock art - and the soon-to-be-opened Ngai Tahu Maori Rock Art Trust Centre in Timaru. South Canterbury tours are small, local and focussed. They tell it like it is and they make sure visitors go away with an in-depth impression of small-town New Zealand and the ordinary, hospitable people who inhabit it.
Maori Rock Art Drawings, South Canterbury At the same time, this enterprising couple maintain assorted aspects of their previous careers. Keith, brought up in the UK, Zambia and Canada, is an educator, former film and television director/producer and is currently involved in developing e-Learning courses for a group of New Zealand polytechnics. Jane, a former journalist, university journalism tutor and editor, is also a qualified ESOL teacher, and another arm of their new tourism business - EnglishPlusAoraki - is aimed at attracting young, international travellers for combined language and adventure experiences. In short, it's all happening in Woodbury, as Keith and Jane, fresh from building their own new home, carve out an exciting, rural-based lifestyle for themselves. Proof that the best of New Zealand isn't always found in the cities. www.southcanterburytours.co.nz