Catching a fish or bagging a few crays in the pots everyday is old hat for charter skipper Tomo Thompson of Kaikoura Fishing Tours. After many years of working for other charter boats doing the hard yards Tomo decided to go out on his own 4 years ago and started his own successful tour business. For many of the people Tomo take out on tours it is a never been experienced before and lifetime event.
As always meeting with Tomo is a good yarn and a few laughs which flows over into the style and nature of how he does his charters, it’s a real kiwi fishing experience.
Tomo grew up on a farm when he was 15 his dad sold the farm and at 17 years old he was commercial fishing all around New Zealand. He worked on the Havelock Mussel Boats as first mate and did a stint in Aussie. Spent 3 years in Papua New Guinea, commercial tuna fishing and long lining and was the engineer of 7 boats. “It’s a pretty savage place” says Tomo “It was like doing a 3 year University degree.”
After New Guinea he came back to Havelock on the mussel boats for a while and this is when he met the beautiful Anita one weekend in Kaikoura. She was going to Aussie and he needed a holiday so they went over there where Tomo did a bit of roofing here and there and spent his time surfing at Lennox Head just 10 minutes from Byron Bay “Just living the dream, as you do! smiles Tomo. They spent 1 ½ yrs there and came back to Kaiks together 7 years ago.
On return Tomo worked on the fishing boat the Takapu for Vic Foster. He saw the opportunity four years ago to go out on his own and get his own boat. For Tomo and Anita their focus is on customer experience and service to give people a real fishing experience. “It’s interesting the enjoyment for many of the passenger is like they feel they are the last hunters and gatherers – it’s our natural instinct kicking back in, and for many kids and adults often on the charter it’s the first time they have ever caught a fish. “ On the tour we pull up the craypots to gather crayfish, catch any of the following fish; perch, blue cod, groper and blue nose. I am surprised how many people want to catch the fish and then release them back so this is really great for the eco marine environment.” You have the opportunity to keep your catch.
Tomo loves the pristine environment Kaikoura offers and the diversity of the Kaikoura Canyon – it replenishes itself over and over, we get a big tide or a storm and it rejuvenates and refreshes it. No trip is ever really the same.
He also has 100 acres in Blenheim which he and his sister inherited when his dad passed away so he keeps himself pretty busy between fishing tours on the land also. These days Tomo’s mum lives on the property keeps an eye on it for him when he’s fishing.
They have faced some challenges since starting in business and being young couple have made them even tougher. Their first boat had engine troubles and blew out which was a huge unexpected cost at the time. Being accepted into the charter environment on his own boat was a big one for Tomo but gave him the determination to become a successful and reputable business.
A lot of business comes to them through word of mouth and people often come back again for another experience. “We get some really interesting people from different walks of life it’s never a dull moment.” Tomo laughs.
Kaikoura Fishing Tours operates all year round “364 days per year subject to the weather with the opportunity for 1 day off a year”.
“This season is going to be awesome we have the new boat and this season we have brought on a new skipper to share the load.” says Tomo
I ask Tomo what are the goals for the future
AND the news of the day is that Tomo and Anita are going to be first time parents so I am very privileged to be able to announce that to you all! Congratulations!
The goal is to create more of a family balance with the business and the exciting arrival of a baby due in January.
Tomo also has a goal to be the skipper of the crayboat at Motunau that he works on for the cray season – he can spend a small chunk of the winter there and keep the charter going year round with the new skipper. Diversification, hard work and clever planning is what I see with this inspiring young couple Tomo and Anita and a bloody good time on the tour.
“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and feed him for life.”
This article is from our July 2013 Magazine