Boatsheds in the top 10

Richard Clark is delighted that his business, The Boatshed Kayaks, is still up there with the best of them.


The Boatshed Kayaks at Lake Karapiro is basking in another big win – it has scooped a 2020 TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Award, putting it in the top 10 percent of worldwide attractions based on customer feedback on the travel platform.

Winning awards is hardly new for the business Richard Clark started 20 years ago. His is a well-established tourist attraction that has won customer-linked awards through TripAdvisor almost annually. “We’ve been one of the top attractions in the area for years,” he said. “It’s always great to be recognised in that way, particularly as it comes on the back of positive customer feedback.”

Richard said the award also served as recognition for his team, in particular his Cambridge-based guides Blake Todd, Sonja Van Wiik, Jack Foley and Shaun Hazelton.

“It is very helpful to get that sort of feedback on staff. They are an incredibly valuable part of the operation, and good customer feedback is a great motivator.”

Pre-Covid, the business attracted around 25 percent international tourists, principally from the USA, UK and Europe, and Australia. Nationally, the biggest numbers come from Auckland, Tauranga and the Waikato, which means the Covid lockdowns of 2020 have hit in waves. Working on tourist deals through Cambridge i-Site has helped steady the numbers, particularly across some of the more popular attractions, such as the year-round Glowworm Kayak Trips, the Waikato River Guided Trips and the Lake Karapiro Waterfalls Paddleboard Tours.

Richard, who works closely with daughter Phoebe Clark, has expanded the business in recent years, which means there is something going on almost every day of the year.

“Our most popular product is the Glowworm Kayak Trips,” he said. “Clients travel to Epworth Camp at the end of the lake, meet up and paddle across the lake before dark, then have cheese and crackers around an open fire before setting back. It’s very popular with families.”

Covid-19 has resulted in some downsizing and a cautious approach to the upcoming programme. Some events have been cancelled, but Richard hopes the Cambridge to Hamilton Paddle Race, set down for September 27, and the Waikato 100 planned for October 1, will still go ahead.

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