Success built on work and luck

22:07, Jun 02 2013
Southland Times photo
Queenstown businessman John Davies.

A Queenstown man who started his working life as a farmer and truck driver has been awarded one of New Zealand's highest honours.

From today former Queenstown mayor John Davies will add Sir to his title.

He was named a Knight Companion of The New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen's Birthday honours for services to business and tourism.

While news of the knighthood came as a surprise, Sir John said there was a feeling of pride and gratitude at having his work recognised.

"It's a wonderful honour. I am very grateful to receive it," he said.

Hard work, a touch of luck and being in the right place at the right time was the key to many of his successful business enterprises, which included Trojan Holdings and Cromwell Transport and shares in Southfuels and Northfuels.


He owns the Milford, Routeburn and Greenstone Tracks Guided Walks and during his 10 years of ownership tourist numbers on the walks increased from 3000 to about 10,000.

As well as being a former chairman of the Queenstown Airport he has invested in and developed the Hermitage Hotel and the Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Mt Hutt ski fields.

Sir John arrived in the Wakatipu area in the early 60s and worked at mustering before buying into his first business, Wakatipu Transport, which was now known as Northern Southland Transport.

"When you start out as a young person there are challenges," he said. "However, once you have more experience your confidence and ability to make strategic business decisions grows."

It was during his time as mayor in the 80s that Sir John began to diversify his businesses into tourism after noticing the potential of Queenstown in the industry in both summer and winter seasons.

Since being appointed as a Companion of the Queen's Service Order in 1995, Sir John has continued to make a valuable contribution to business and community interests in Queenstown and his efforts in encouraging visitor numbers and investment during the economic downturn was noted.

Sir John said he would be celebrating receiving the honour with a special dinner tonight and a glass of champagne. He was excited to be able to tell his two children, Michael and Jacqui, about the award and this morning he was going tell his grandchildren to ring his wife Trish and be the first to call her Lady Davies.

Also being recognised in the south are Te Anau man John Steffens who has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the fishing industry.

Associate professor David Perez, of Dunedin, was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to oncology.

Queen's Service Medals went to Bluff's Astrid Brocklehurst, Helen McKay, of Tuatapere, and Jane Wilson, of Dunedin, for services to the community, Dunedin's Ronald Cain for services to athletics and John McDermott for services as a reporter, Queenstown's Lynette Parker for services to tourism and children's health and Heather Paterson, of Gore, for services to fashion. 

The Southland Times