25 Oct 2017: Zealong Tea Estate Opens $8 Million Visitor Centre and Production Plant

Zealong Tea Estate, New Zealand’s only commercial tea plantation, has opened a new $8 million visitor centre and state-of-the-art production plant.

The Vista, which has dedicated meeting and event spaces, on-site catering featuring tea-infused cuisine and an executive lounge and VIP meeting room, was officially opened last week [October 20th] by Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism Rt Hon. John Key at a ceremony and high tea attended by local, national and international dignitaries.

In opening the world-class facility, Mr Key said it was like being on the Champs Elysees in France.

“I think I’m in a boutique, in Chanel, in Paris. It looks amazing ... it’s absolutely beautiful and it’s living proof of the quality of investment and the long term commitment to build an international market,” he said.

Around the world there was an emergence of middle income consumers with a disposable income who, amongst other things, wanted to spend it on food and beverages that had a story, he said.

“You can go and find a tea I’m sure out there that’s cheaper. You can find a tea that’s different in some other form but you can’t find a tea grown in New Zealand with the story of Zealong because there is only Zealong,” Mr Key said.

“And those consumers want that and that’s why they’re coming to a Vista experience which is something akin to a boutique ... and when they buy their tea and when they share it with their friends wherever they drink that around the world they’ll want to relive with them the experience that they’ve had.”

Zealong CEO, Vincent Chen told invited guests that Zealong was a great story, but not a private story.

“It is part of the Mighty Waikato, of New Zealand, and we are proud to take it to the world. We tell our story when the world comes to us,” he said.

“We tell our story as we export our tea to China, to Germany, to England, to France, and to Japan. And with your ongoing support, the story of New Zealand’s only locally-grown tea, of Zealong, will become bigger than any of us ever dreamed of.”

Zealong General Manager Gigi Crawford said The Vista had been built with tourism and government goals, to innovate the sector and attract high-value visitors to the region, in mind.

“At Zealong we are passionate about producing tea to the highest standard, and we’ve created a facility to match that passion. Much like a vineyard, it is our vision to create an estate that is not just a place to grow tea, but also a destination - a place where people can come to savour unique New Zealand-grown tea, while looking out over rows of thriving tea plants,” she said.

Zealong is fast-becoming an iconic visitor attraction for the Waikato region, alongside Waitomo Caves and Hobbiton, offering tour programmes for both groups and independent travellers

Having started taking tours of the estate four years ago, Zealong has had 40,000 visitors through its doors in the last year alone, the majority being from outside the region. That number is expected to grow with the opening of The Vista.

With sweeping views over the estate and an impressive white-on-white Retail Shop featuring floor-to-ceiling glass, The Vista is already attracting high profile events. Even before officially opening its doors, the venue has already hosted the 2016 CINZ Conference welcome function and Chelsea Winter’s latest book launch.

That the opening of The Vista and the brand new tea processing facility occurs in 2016 is not taken lightly by Zealong Tea Estate staff. This year marks 20 years since the first 130 tea plants were planted in Waikato’s fertile soil, to eventually be propagated into the 1.2 million plants that currently make up the estate.

With the demand for organic products increasing worldwide and New Zealand looking to further capitalise on its clean, green reputation, Zealong is proud to be seen as a leader in the food and beverage industry, said Ms Crawford.

“Zealong tea is the only tea that we know of in the world that has ISO22000 accreditation across every step of the production process. This makes it fully traceable, from soil to first sip, and is a unique achievement in the tea industry,” she said.

“All our teas are 100% certified organic, being free of pesticides and heavy metal residues. Consumers globally are becoming increasingly health conscious, seeking products they know are safe and have been produced with the lowest possible impact on the environment. Zealong more than ticks that box.”

- ENDS -

For more information, interviews or images, please contact:

Sen Kong, Zealong Tea Estate
+64 27 459 0018
sales@zealong.co.nz

About Zealong

Zealong is New Zealand's only commercially grown tea.

The New Zealand-owned company, estate and world-class restaurant can be found on Hamilton’s northern outskirts and represents a $20 million investment in what is the only commercial tea estate in New Zealand.

Zealong has become a key element within New Zealand's clean and green story. Currently about two thirds of the company's annual production is exported, with the balance being sold domestically through forty-two outlets across the country.

The enterprise began with 130 premium quality seedlings imported from Asia in 1996 and now comprises about 1.2 million lovingly-nurtured plants, hosted on a 48 hectare estate.