Boom times for tattoo business

Last updated 15:03 04/12/2013
Southland Times photo
GRANT BRYANT/Fairfax NZ

Brad Payne, a visitor from Cambridge, New Zealand, shows his lifelong reminder of his Queenstown trip, a tattoo of the TSS Earnslaw, which was done by Jeremy Hill.

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Queenstown's newest tattoo shop is a perfect example of business expansion caused by the devastating 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Otautahi Tattoos, a top name in the New Zealand ink trade was, until the earthquakes, always associated with Christchurch (Otautahi is the Maori name for the area the city now occupies). 

But the business' headquarters were destroyed when the quake struck.

Rather than let the momentum of the business slow down, a new Otautahi Tattoo was opened on Auckland's K Rd within two months. 

Having burgeoned there,it was decided to keep the expansion rolling and Queenstown was deemed the best place for that to happen.

Queenstown manager Jeremy Hill said the desire to turn to the mainland was always on the cards for the Otautahi crew but Christchurch was not quite ready.

''Personally, I've been coming to Queenstown for a large part of my life and business-wise it's a tourism mecca, and tourists have always been a huge market for all the Otautahi shops, so we thought we'd be able to slot in and capitalise on that quite nicely here,'' he said.

The search for an ideal Queenstown site began about 18 months ago, but it wasn't until the Camp St store the business now occupies came up for lease that the move was made.

Otautahi tattooists are chosen for broad skills and the ability to specialise.

The store's wide range of tattooists means Auckland-based artists will be seconded for Queenstown stints, and the international connections fostered means visiting offshore artists will also have time in the resort.

''Its a win-win situation. 

''Visiting artists can experience Queenstown's unique lifestyle and our Queenstown customers can get tattooed by some of the world's top artists, plus we'll have some of the top Ta Moko artists doing lots of time down here.''

Since opening, business has been booming.

''We kind of worked off a worst-case scenario, so thought we'd be twiddling our thumbs for a while, but its been going off.''

''Loads of tourists have been in and there has been a lot of excitement from Queenstowners and people all around Wanaka, Cromwell, Glenorchy and Alexandra  ... who have come in wanting some pretty large-scale pieces.

''It's all worked out better than we ever could have hoped for really.'' 

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