New Central Otago Mr Whippy franchise owners Steve and
Linda Mitchell are proud to be bringing back a slice of
Kiwiana long absent from the Wakatipu. Photo by Joe
After 12 years without the ice-cream van and its equally
recognisable Greensleeves tune, a husband and wife team have
set about bringing Mr Whippy back to the Wakatipu.
Cromwell-based couple Steve and Linda Mitchell, previously
known to many as the district's Provender team, earlier this
year bought the seldom-used franchise off a Wanaka man.
Seeking a change in lifestyle after Linda was last year
diagnosed with, and beat bowel cancer, the two are selling
the Provender franchise and together are covering Queenstown,
Wanaka, Cromwell and Alexandra.
Six weeks in and the Mitchells are loving it.
Using their knowledge of the district, the duo visits suburbs
of the area no more than once a fortnight, placing "unfair
demands" on parents of excited kids.
Linda says it is not just the children you have to worry
about: about half of all sales are from adults who come
running when they hear the familiar tinkling tune from the
In addition to doing the district rounds during the week,
Steve says there has been a strong surge of Mr Whippy
bookings for events, as Queenstowners look for a "Kiwiana"
So far, this has meant turning up at Christmas work dos,
parties, galas, rodeos and, last week, the annual meeting of
Hilton Hotel directors at Kawarau Hotel.
"It's unique, it's Kiwiana and its part of a tradition that's
been around in New Zealand since 1964," Steve said.
The event the pair are looking forward to the most is the
Cromwell Relay For Life in March, from which they will donate
proceeds taken in 24 hours to "give back to the cancer
As they take turns fielding questions, it becomes apparent
the two work pretty well together as a team.
As they sell the Provender franchise, Steve continues to work
it in the mornings while Linda drives the Mr Whippy van,
meeting up again in the evenings when Steve takes over the
reins of the ice-cream machine.
"We've also got a pretty good system going. Steve does the
ice-cream, I decorate and we get through the lines fast,"
"But I know my place: Linda's the boss," Steve said with a
Despite the summer obviously being a peak time for ice-cream
sellers, they say they will continue the rounds all year,
instead of shutting up shop having just built a customer
That and "people love ice-creams all year round", Linda said.
So, after six weeks, the big question is are they sick of
eating ice-creams yet?
"I haven't got sick of it yet," Steve answered. "We will have
to see by the end of summer."