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Seeing the sights of Devonport on Segway

Pauline Baker has a job that’s a bit different from your nine-to-five office job; she owns Magic Broomstick Segway Tours in Devonport, a local business that shows visitors the local sights - on Segway.  Channel Magazine talked to Pauline about the best part of her job, her business mentors and how she came to own a Segway business.

CB: What’s the best part about your job?

PB:  Seeing the sheer joy on the faces of the people at the end of the Segway Tour.  People are often nervous about doing something they've never done before.   For the first half of the tour they are apprehensive but by the time we get back to our base on Devonport Wharf they are full of laughter and joy and don't want to get off the Segway.

CB: What is your background in business?
PB:  For most of my working life I have owned my own business.   I owned a cafe and bakery in Central Otago many moons ago. We introduced people to carrot cake, they thought we were mad: "Carrots in a Cake?"  On returning to Auckland almost 30 years ago I purpose-built a cottage in our rather large garden and opened one of the first Bed and Breakfasts in Devonport.

CB: Why did you get involved with Segway tours?
PB:  I was thrown in at the deep end almost six years ago now.   My late husband had been to Paris and done a Segway tour around the city.  When he came home he was adamant that Devonport was THE place to start a Segway tour so Magic Broomstick Tours was born.   Unfortunately he died six months later, which left me holding the baby as it were!

CB: Why is Devonport a great place to visit on a Segway?
PB:  That's an easy question. Devonport Village has charm and lots of early history to explore.  It also has THE BEST views of Auckland city and the Hauraki Gulf, an absolute MUST SEE for any visitor to Auckland, or indeed the locals.   Especially those from the other side of the bridge.   We're only a 12 minute ferry ride from the city, that way access to us is easy.  People are just gob-smacked at how beautiful our city is. Often international travellers have been on Segway tour in other cities around the world, but they tell me that Magic Broomstick Tours is the best Segway Tour ever!

CB: Who are the business people you look up to and why?
PB:  I've recently become aware of Derek Handley, a young New Zealand entrepreneur with a soul.  He's a member of the group of entrepreneurs co-founded by Sir Richard Branson called  "The B Team".  They're all about sustainability, ethical leadership, paying people a 'living wage' and taking care of the planet.  I'm on their team - I think we all need to be united for a single purpose and that is to create "A New Normal" - one that takes care of people and the planet so that we all thrive.

CB: Do you have a mentor you look to for advice?
PB:  In the early days of the Segway Tour business I had several sessions with Robert Tulp,  a mentor who gave the me a piece of advice without, which I don't think I would be in business today.  That was 'to take ownership of the business', to make it mine and decide  'this is what I really want to do'.  My accountant of 25 years, Paulette Cassidy, has also played a big part in the success of Magic Broomstick Tours, she keeps me positive and on track.

CB: If you could do a Segway tour in any city in the world, where would it be and why?
PB:  Paris, of course, as that is where Magic Broomstick Tours was conceived.

CB: Do you have any special deals on at the moment?
PB:  Yes we have 20% discount on all the rides and tours for the cold winter months.

CB:  Favourite country you’ve visited and why?
PB:  I spent some time in Greece last year with my daughter Eridani.  We had 10 days at a yoga retreat on Silver Island.  It  was beautiful; swimming in crystal clear water and the local food was amazing.  Visiting the Acropolis in Athens was a highlight and, of course, the Segway tour through the city.

CB: What do you do in your spare time?
PB:  Spare time! I wish I had some!  Running a business on your own can be very time-consuming.  When I do have some spare time, I love to tend to my garden, go to movies and best of all to spend time with my friends and family.

CB: If I wasn’t operating Segway tours for a career, I would be …
PB:  This is the hardest question.  At my stage in life perhaps I'd be retired and smelling the roses!  I've always done some sort of  community service as I'm rather passionate about my community in Devonport so I'd like to think I was still involved with making it the greatest place to live, to love and be happy. 

by Courtney Bennett