Dave Woulfe - Owner / Operator, Everyone's Adventure.
The Wellington outdoors are special to me. There’s heaps of variation - from rugged coasts with great kayaking, diving and surfing, to rolling hills perfect for mountain biking and running. It’s all massively underappreciated though, which means you can be on a bike or a surfboard just 20km from the CBD, but it feels like it’s just you and your mates in the middle of nowhere. I also love that there’s a great community of adventurers around Wellington, who are super keen to help get others into the things they love.
I run three outdoor adventure businesses in Wellington: The Boatshed - Days Bay, which hires out kayaks and standup paddleboards (as well as making mean Real Fruit Ice Creams!); The Bikeshed Pencarrow, which rents bikes; and Cycle Rimutaka, where we arrange supported daytrips or multiday adventures for people on the Rimutaka Cycle Trail.
I’ve been at it for five years now - before this I was working for big corporates, and got a bit disenchanted by the “profits over people” business model. So I jumped on a plane to Indonesia with a one-way ticket, a surfboard and a backpack, and wound up working with a medical crew on a remote island, mostly doing handyman stuff and cooking and cleaning. I saw some things there that really changed my perspective on what I wanted to do with my life, and also met Alice (we’re now married), who happened to be a Wellingtonian.
When we moved back to Wellington six months later (after backpacking and hitch-hiking around Europe and Morocco together for a few months), I wanted to work for non-profits doing awesome stuff, but couldn’t find anything suitable. Then I saw a picture on TradeMe of a wee boatshed with a bunch of kayaks out the front going pretty cheap. I thought I could buy it, have a crack at building up the business, and run it in a way that meant everyone had access to the cool experiences that I’d been lucky enough to grow up with, and affect some sort of social change by doing business better.
I wasn’t quite sure what that would look like, but found pretty early on that the thing that gave me the biggest buzz within the business, was seeing kids and families who don’t ordinarily get to do this sort of stuff, getting to have a go. I wanted to make that happen more often for more people. That’s where the idea for the Everyone’s Adventure campaign this summer came from. I’ve tried little things before, like having a “koha kayaks” promo, but I was after something bigger - I wanted to move away from the idea of trying to make as much money as possible from each person who comes through the business, into figuring out a plan that’s good for business and great for the community. I don’t want my business model to rely on everyone having money, or to make distinctions between those who can afford outdoor adventures and those who can’t. Five years, and a lot of help from friends and family later (thank you all - Alice in particular), Everyone's Adventure is here.
Here’s the deal with Everyone’s Adventure:
1. We've got three awesome outdoor adventure businesses, where we hire gear (kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and bikes) and sell ice creams and other snacks.
2. We've figure out how much money we need to bring in this summer across all of those businesses: it's $300,000, including stuff like overheads, safe practices, and paying our staff.
3. Every dollar people spend at our three businesses over summer goes towards that $300K total - gear hire and ice creams included, as well as vouchers for future use.
4. We're making our earnings transparent to the public, and once that $300K amount is reached, gear hire is FREE at those businesses, for the rest of summer, til Easter weekend 2017.
And that’s it! I can’t wait to see what our community can do together through Everyone’s Adventure this summer. I think people hanging out together having great experiences brings communities closer, and that these great experiences also make people appreciate and think a bit more about their natural environment. Making it free means everyone gets to do it, and everyone wins - the business, the environment and our community will all be healthier for it. And as an Everyone’s Adventure customer, you can feel good about your decisions helping others have experiences they might not otherwise have had.
I have so many great memories from these awesome Wellington summers I’ve had running the businesses so far. For example, the very first day of operations after I bought The Boatshed with a mate. It was one of those classic Wellington summer days that we get three of every year: perfectly flat, still, and sunny. There was a birdman competition on with people jumping and riding off the wharf in costume and on crazy contraptions, and we were super busy and super stoked. We proceeded to extrapolate out that one day’s business, multiplied by every day for the rest of the summer, and started talking about how awesome early retirement was going to be. The next day, it was gale force winds and rain (the other kind of classic Welly summer day).
I also love getting to paddle with orca - each season a pod or two cruise through Days Bay. I’ve been lucky enough to be out on the water twice when they’ve come through, and one time they decided to cruise along with me as I paddled, with a young calf rolling up on its side to watch me, eye (and teeth) close enough to reach out and touch. Pretty special. And I never get sick of the daily 5pm show throughout the school holidays, where local business people in their suits run the wharf gauntlet as kids (loose interpretation - pretty sure I’ve seen some dudes in their mid 20s) do bombs off the wharf trying to splash them. Pays to be either the first (if you’re fast!) or the last business person through - it’s always pretty funny seeing the locals hang back while the less experienced get allowed through first as sacrificial lambs.
For those who are new to Wellington, or who aren’t new but have never ventured much outside the urban zone, I’d say buy a jacket and get amongst it. There’s heaps of awesome adventures to be had, and some really supportive communities that will take you under their wing. So come and be part of it!
Like Everyone’s Adventure on Facebook to keep track of the campaign.