Last month saw us celebrating our 25-year business anniversary. What a ride! Read on if you’d like to hear more about our journey.
Mark & Maria
From first wine tour operator to transport and tour leader – Sounds Connection celebrates 25 years in business!
November 2018 sees Sounds Connection celebrate 25 years as a family owned and operated business in Marlborough.
Back in 1993, Mark and Maria Baxter were living in Wellington. However, the pull of the Marlborough Sounds was strong – Mark is a fourth generation “Soundsie” whose father and grandfather were boat builders. Mark’s father also operated Seabud Water Taxis and Fishing Charters from the early 1960s in the Queen Charlotte.
So the Baxters returned to Marlborough, purchased a Red Ford Econovan, and became the very first company to operate daily wine tours in Marlborough.
Today, that fleet has changed and grown, as has the company. Sounds Connection runs an ever-growing number of minibuses for daily wine tours, and larger buses for its strong group transport operations. Not to mention the fishing charters which are popular with visitors and locals alike. Despite the changes, the company’s ethos remains the same – to provide great quality service and reliability to the Marlborough tourism sector.
When asked what the highlights of those 25 years in business have been, Maria Baxter replies:
Meeting heaps of amazing people – both customers, community and other business operators; seeing the high speed ferries come and go and the subsequent regulation of speed in the Sounds; attending the launch of the Aratere – it was a great party; the opening of the Waimahara Wharf in Shakespeare Bay and meeting the then prime minister Helen Clark; attending many winery launches over the years which are always informative; and learning how to use a cell phone and teaching myself computer skills! And of course working with incredible team members, some for up to 10 years and one even for 24 years. Maria Baxter, co-owner operator
As referenced by Maria, a lot has changed in Marlborough and in the tourism and transport industry since they started out. Some of the challenges include the amount of paperwork required to keep up with legislative changes, which can be tough on a small business.
Another change Maria and Mark have seen is the deregulation of the transport sector, meaning licences are easier to acquire. They would prefer to see more time spent on training and driver safety, something that Sounds Connection prioritises.
Overall, the Baxters love running a business in Marlborough – “we love the climate, the people, boating in the Marlborough Sounds, and it’s a great place to raise a family”.
Feedback from happy customers who have enjoyed Sounds Connection’s tours in 2018:
I highly recommend Sounds Connection for a wine tour. They know what they are talking about and you can be assured that you will get to taste some of the best wine in the world.
Booked an awesome half day charter and had a great time in the Sounds. We caught heaps of fish and saw a lot of lovely scenery. The boat was well appointed and Mark, the skipper, was very knowledgeable and helpful. Booking and communication was handled very well by a professional team. Highly recommended!
Sounds Connection were excellent to deal with from booking through to delivery of a great experience and I can’t recommend them enough. Will definitely be using them again and can’t wait for our next trip.
An amazing half-day tour to one of the most incredible white wine regions in the world. We tasted wines at 4 radically different vineyards in the Marlborough region, home to amazing Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines. Our driver was engaging, a local and full of stories. LOTS of fun. The wineries were varied and each one added new understanding, experiences and different tastes. If you love white wines, this tour is a MUST!