Life Flip: From corporate avocado advocates

Tim Rosamond showing a visitor some of the avocados he grows. Photo: Katch Katikati.

Five years ago, Tim Rosamond had never even heard of the avocado capital of New Zealand.

Now, he’s not only growing around 250 Haas trees on a 3.8Ha property south of Katikati, but he’s also the first to open his orchard for tours.

“Most people wouldn’t do this much in ten years, and we’ve gone and done it in two,” laughs Tim.

After 35 years in the high-stress world of IT, he and partner Michele Ricou, knew it was time for a move out of Wellington.

“It was a lot of responsibility with long days, sleepless nights with the phone going at any time of the day,” says Tim. “It does take a mental toll and I realised that I didn’t need it in my life any longer.”

Avocados were the perfect opportunity to match the couple’s passion for healthy eating, being outdoors and making a difference to the well-being of people.

They’d been warned, though, that they’d need an ‘off orchard’ income.

“Michele still works in her service management role for a large corporate that promoted remote working after Covid and that gave us the confidence to push ahead with our crazy plan,” says Tim.

“All of a sudden, though, you’re relying heavily on something that you’re growing for an income and nature can just come along and wipe it out.”

“That’s where the ideas around diversifying come in,” says Michele.

A friend's comment at the pub sparked action. She’d attended a barbecue at their house, where Tim unexpectedly gave an off-the-cuff 45-minute orchard tour.

“People who’ve lived locally for many years came away saying ‘wow, we just learned so much from Tim’,” says Michele.

“I think that’s what gave our friend the faith that Tim could host a tour, because he’d done one without even realising.”

“She works at Katch Katikati,” says Tim.

“And told us they have visitors wanting to see an orchard because we’re branding ourselves as the avocado capital of New Zealand. However, there was no one offering tours,” says Tim.

The couple started thinking about hosting tours last June, the website was up around two months later and by the end of October, they were taking bookings.

Tim Rosamond hosting an avocado tour on his orchard. Photo: Katch Katikati.

Brochures and emails aimed at tourists and local rest homes secured the first groups.

“When we got our first Google review it was so exciting,” says Tim.

“Three months in and we’re up to 12 reviews. They’re all five-star and they’re all amazing. I honestly couldn’t have written them better myself.”

The tours include a guided walk, a demonstration of work on the orchard, picking fruit and tasting of avocado ice cream and Tim’s guacamole. In fact, it’s Tim’s guac that’s raved about most in the feedback.

“I tell people it has to be made with Tim’s Avocados. That’s the secret ingredient that makes it so good,” says Tim.

“If we could find a way to package it that will be our next thing” says Michele. “We’re experimenting with vacuum packs at the moment. We also now have Bed and Breakfast accommodation that we just started three weeks ago.”

“We’ve got this asset with the orchard, so we think about how else we can get income from it,” says Tim.

“Five years ago, if someone told me I’d be an orchardist in Katikati, doing tourism and providing accommodation, I wouldn’t have been able to think of anything more left field. It’s definitely been a rollercoaster. Once I’m passionate about something, though, I give it my all.”


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