The People's Bread co-owner Ruth Heath, of Albert Town,
with two of her four children, Ezra (20 months) and Caoimhe
(6), on the family's new electric bike, used to deliver
their organic stone-ground sourdough loaves throughout the
district. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Albert Town bakers Jeremy and Ruth Heath say peddling
their produce to people via their new electric bike has
revolutionised their bread business.
In April last year, the Heaths began the People's Bread -
making, selling and delivering organic stone-ground sourdough
loaves throughout Hawea and Wanaka. It quickly grew into a
full-time job, around raising their four young children and
run from their home-based mobile kitchen.
Their car ferried the food and family around the district
until they decided an electric form of delivery would be more
''We looked at scooters but the technology didn't seem quite
up with the play. So we discovered electric bikes,'' Mrs
''We wanted to reduce how much we used our vehicles and we
thought, given the distances that we're travelling, it would
easily be doable on a bike,'' her husband added.
''And you can get exercise at the same time.''
The couple bought their US-made bike at the start of last
month from a Wellington-based distributor and it immediately
began to ''revolutionise the way we do things''.
Their five-day-a-week door-to-door deliveries became far more
streamlined on the two-wheeler, which uses optional pedal
power to boost its motor.
Considered the ''station wagon'' of electric bikes, the
Heaths' chosen model was ideal for big families, they said.
It carries up to 200kg and travels at an average speed of
35kmh during delivery runs, with its panniers laden with
freshly baked bread and a couple of Heath children on the
After the initial outlay of about $5000, the only running
costs are for charging the bike - about 50c a day - and
The couple said electric bikes were common in Europe and they
expected them to become increasingly so in New Zealand, as it
was a ''lovely'' way to travel.
''It's amazing what you experience by biking for delivery;
just an awareness of the environment and your surroundings,''
Mrs Heath said.
''And it's quite exciting and fun to go out on the bike, as
opposed to getting in the car ... the novelty hasn't worn off
yet,'' she added.
The unconventional ride has already completed more than 700km
in the first few weeks of use and attracted plenty of
attention on its travels, particularly from amused cyclists
on non-motorised bikes whom the Heaths effortlessly overtake
on the open road.
Asked if the bike would remain the permanent People's Bread
carrier, the Heaths confirmed it was here to stay, before
adding: ''ask us in winter''.
And if demand for the loaves continues to grow?
''We'll get a fleet,'' Mrs Heath said.