Home' Advocate Communications : Fiordland Advocate 22 May 2009 Contents 22 May 2009 | Page 11
It was time to try something new. Kevin
Atkinson had been a joiner his whole life. His
wife Jacky had been a home executive for
the past 19 years, staying home to raise their
four children. They wanted to do something
together – a small business they could both
be active partners in. It didn’t matter where.
So, they turned to the Internet to see what
took their fancy and ended up securing a
date with Te Anau.
“We didn’t know where it was. We’d never
heard of Te Anau. That was the thing, we saw
the shop was in Te Anau but where was Te
Anau? We’d never heard of the place,” Jacky
More time on the Internet gave them plenty
of information about places like Milford
Sound but very little about Te Anau itself.
Not deterred, they flew south to take a look.
“We didn’t know what to expect... we were
On May 1, 2008 the Atkinsons, their four
children – aged 20, 19, 16 and 14 – moved
south. They were joined by their eldest
daughter’s boyfriend and eldest son’s
girlfriend. Two months later they were
working seven days a week, running the
dairy in the Town Centre.
The first couple of months in the shop was
hard work, especially since neither had
ever had any experience at running a dairy
before, but they still considered the move the
best they ever had made.
Having started during the traditionally quiet
and cold winter months, they had no idea
what lay ahead for them in Fiordland’s busy
“Everyone was saying to us “are you getting
staff” and we said “no, we’ll try and do it
ourselves”,” Jacky said.
It wasn’t long before they realised why
people had been suggesting the need for
“But we did it,” Kevin said. “It probably
wasn’t as busy as what it had been over
the last couple of years but it was still
busy enough for the two of us.”
As the sunshine hours increased, so
too did the demand for ice creams. The
Atkinsons very quickly learned how to
roll hundreds in a single day. The busiest
was Labour Day when they sold 300
ice creams. That day they rate as their
hardest ever – not just because of the
sheer volume. Thinking all of the holiday
makers would be heading home that
day, the previous night they had allowed
themselves a rare evening out with friends.
“We were hungover. We’d had a hard
night, we got in about two o’clock in the
morning,” Kevin recalled.
“I was about ready to throw the ice creams
out the door,” Jacky said.
Since starting they have only taken two
days off. This winter they plan to take
about 10 days’ holiday and have found
Down at the dairy ...
someone to mind the shop while they
visit family and friends back up north.
Moving south hasn’t been without its
sacrifices but they still keep in close
contact with their old friends– even
though many thought they were mad
moving to the unknown.
“The few that have come down so far
soon change their mind when they see
where we live,” Kevin said.
When they look back on the past year
they admit parts of what they have done
probably were mad. With the benefit of
hindsight they can see things they could
have done differently. But the whole
process has been a huge learning curve
and they say they don’t have a single
“You never go on and regret what you
haven’t done. If you want to do it, do it,”
“We’re definitely glad we moved down
here. We’re here to stay. We like the
area, the people are friendly,” Kevin said.
It’s the people, they say, that are the
highlight of running a seven day dairy.
Every day someone comes in who will
make them smile or laugh.
A memorable customer was an Irish
visitor last year who came in and bought
an ice cream every day for three weeks.
Then he would sit outside encouraging
passersby to come into the shop.
“And he’d come in and tell you these
jokes. He was really neat,” Kevin said.
The hardest part has been the guilt at
not being at home for their kids.
“I was home for 19 years with them and
now not being home, they notice it,”
They might have clocked up a year in
Te Anau but there’s so much about the
place they have yet to see and enjoy.
Customers are forever asking their
advice on where to go and what to do
so this year they want to try and find
the time to experience their new home
through tourists’ eyes.
“I want to take a helicopter flight... I still
want to get to Doubtful Sound. People
ask us and we have no idea, we can’t
explain to them because we haven’t had
the chance to be able to go and do it
ourselves,” Kevin said.
As for the shop, that’s a short to
medium-term plan. At the moment
they’re renovating the interior. They’ve
already changed the layout and soon
it’ll be freshened up again with a lick of
paint. Their next plan is to expand their
The Aktinsons reckon they’ll probably
be ready to sell the dairy in four or five
years; ready for their next big adventure.
“We’ve got a couple of other little things
Whatever those things might be, their
future is in Fiordland.
“We’re more than content here.”
Just over a year ago Jacky and Kevin
Atkinson didn’t even know where Te
Anau was on a map. But, thanks to
the Internet, that’s where they bought
a business and moved to from their
North Island home of Marton.
Kevin and Jacky Atkinson in the Te Anau dairy
they bought thanks to an Internet search for a
new life challenge.
Ice creams are a huge seller in summer. In October last year they rolled 300 in a single day.
Expanding the takeaway menu is one of the next
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