On a mission to promote Buller

Published date11 August 2021
AuthorRose O'Connor
Publication titleWest Coast Messenger, The
She spent two weeks in quarantine in Auckland before arriving in Westport to spend time with her ailing 93-year-old father, Geoff White. With afternoons spent at O'Conor Home, Helen had her mornings free.

However, Melbourne was soon locked down so Helen realised she was going to be in Westport longer than anticipated, leaving husband Alan working from home and caring for their two teenage sons.

Helen is a personal travel manager who arranges travel for a client base of about 600 people. As the cancellations started to roll in she systematically started working to gain all the refunds she could for her clients, and even hired co-working space at Epic Centre in Westort.

"I have worked in many co-working spaces in Melbourne and Epic is by far the best I have been part of. It was very welcoming with a variety of people with a huge knowledge base," she said.

"In Australia, I am a Tourism NZ travel trade expert. I have done a specialist programme to know about New Zealand in depth for tourists travelling here," she said.

Helen decided to also use her time to learn more about what was available specifically in Buller so she could promote it in her newsletters to clients and on social media.

"I left Westport 40 years ago. Apart from returning annually to visit my parents, I haven't spent much time here. However, I have made it my personal goal to get more people to travel on into Westport and not turn left at the Crossroads and head down the Coast Road. All my clients have heard of the Pancake Rocks. They need to know what is available further north."

Helen has set about doing as many 'touristy' things as she could including walking to Scott's Beach on the Heaphy Track, taking the Oparara Guided Tours of the Oparara Caves, Outwest Tours 4WD trips to Denniston, Mount Rochfort and Johnny's Journey at Charleston. She has walked the Kawatiri River Trails, Millennium Track, Cape Foulwind Walkway and North Beach.

She has done part of the Paparoa Track up the Pororari River and Truman Track at Punakaiki. She has jetboated the upper Buller River at Murchison with Buller Canyon Jet.

"They are far better value for money in terms of the price per minute than the likes of the Shotover," she says.

Helen has calculated it out. She also appreciated the local knowledge on the history and flora and fauna of the area by the local operators, some of whom had lost up to 70% of their business with the border closures.

Helen said the West Coast Tourism slogan of 'Untamed Natural...

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