Coffee boat keeps cyclists on track

Cyclists (from left to right) Karen Spires, of Queenstown, Sarah Aston, of Auckland, and Fiona...
Cyclists (from left to right) Karen Spires, of Queenstown, Sarah Aston, of Auckland, and Fiona Boyer, of Queenstown, had started from Smith's Way near Pisa Moorings and said Coffee Afloat was an incentive to ride the 55km Dunstan Trail all the way to Clyde. Busy in the background are baristas Jolanda Foale and Gemma Dyer. PHOTO: KERRIE WATERWORTH
"Ah, nirvana!" a cyclist shouted on Saturday as they were riding the recently opened Lake Dunstan cycle and walking trail and saw a coffee boat cafe floating on Lake Dunstan in the Cromwell Gorge.

Coffee Afloat owner Richard Foale said it was a common reaction.

Together with his wife Jolanda, Mr Foale offered one of the remotest coffees in New Zealand.

He said every morning they set off from Cromwell in their floating cafe and docked about 10am at the base of the Cairnmuir Ladder, halfway along the 55km trail between the Cromwell Heritage Precinct and Clyde Historic Village.

It was of the few places where the track ran beside the water and was also conveniently only 250m from one of the few toilets.

The unexpected success of the venture has led to Mr Foale employing a team of five baristas and their floating business is set to expand following the purchase of another boat, currently awaiting a refit in Havelock.

The new boat "Burger Afloat"will join the fleet this summer and be moored alongside Coffee Afloat.

It will help meet the expected increased demand for drinks during the holiday period but also offer hot food.


Mr Foale said the floating cafe was licensed "a bit like a coffee cart".

They operated seven days a week (except in very bad weather and high winds) and offered a range of

hot and cold drinks as well as snacks.

"We have been operating on the trail since the day it opened on May 8 and we have been blown away by how busy it is.

"It is the middle of winter and we are making between 50 to 70 coffees a day on weekdays and up to a 100 on the weekend," he said.

Cyclists Fiona Boyer, of Queenstown, Sarah Aston, of Auckland, and Karen Spires, of Queenstown, started from Smith’s Way near Pisa Moorings and could not wait to climb aboard the cafe.

Ms Aston said Coffee Afloat was "such an incentive to come for a ride".

Ms Boyer said she did not know the floating cafe was there and shouted "hallelujah" when she saw it.

Ms Spires was originally from Ponsonby in Auckland "and we are big into coffee so when I found out there was a coffee boat I definitely had to ride the trail."

Mr Foale and his wife also owned Heliview Flights, operating from Cromwell Airport.

Mr Foale said their helicopter business had been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and the downturn in international tourism.

"Most of the other helicopter companies around here have received huge grants and loans.

"We just can’t compete with them as they have a much bigger marketing reach and they are undercutting the prices ... so we had to look for other things to keep us occupied."


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