skip to Main Content

Zinnia Foster: Shaping Nelson’s Hospitality Landscape

Zinnia Foster, the Regional Manager at Hospitality New Zealand, has carved a distinctive path through the hospitality industry, transitioning from her early days in a small country primary school in Picton to becoming a pivotal figure in the region’s hospitality sector. Born and raised in a setting where a school of thirty students was the norm, Zinnia’s journey to Nelson marked the beginning of a career that would eventually see her playing a significant role in shaping the hospitality landscape.

Her early foray into the hospitality industry began with a job at The Styx Restaurant on the waterfront, coinciding with her leaving high school. This initial step was at first just a means to an end but discovered that she had a knack for it. “I quickly found that I thrived in that environment,” Zinnia recalls. Her dedication and hard work did not go unnoticed, leading to rapid progression within the establishment. “The owner…took me under her wing and nurtured my enthusiasm,” she reflects.

Zinnia decided to explore beyond her familiar surroundings, embarking on a solo backpacking journey across Europe. This adventure was a period of personal growth. “It was an amazing experience,” she says, though it eventually reinforced her bond with Nelson, drawing her back to the community and industry she cherished.

Returning to Nelson, Zinnia’s career in hospitality continued to flourish. Her roles evolved from initial positions to managerial responsibilities, where she showcased her leadership skills and commitment to excellence. “I ended up getting given the boss role at 20 years old,” she states, underscoring the trust and responsibility placed in her at a young age. This experience, coupled with her travels, equipped Zinnia with a unique perspective on the hospitality industry, one that she would leverage in her subsequent roles.

Zinnia’s journey took a turn towards advocacy and support for the hospitality sector when she assumed the position of Regional Manager at Hospitality New Zealand. In this role, she serves as a linchpin for the industry, offering guidance, support, and a voice for hospitality businesses across the top of the South Island, North Canterbury, West Coast and Wellington. “I wear a lot of hats…I’m a counsellor at times”, she jokes. Her efforts are not only aimed at navigating the challenges faced by business owners but also at fostering a community where collaboration and mutual support are paramount.

The challenges of recent times, particularly the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry, have underscored the importance of Zinnia’s role. She has navigated through periods of uncertainty, offering a steady hand to businesses grappling with operational and financial hurdles. “It’s been really tough…dealing with the massive increased costs and navigating compliance,” she acknowledges, pinpointing the delicate balance businesses must maintain in these trying times.

Beyond her professional accomplishments, Zinnia’s personal interests, include her love for her dog, Alfie, enjoying the local parks and rivers and her newfound love of experimenting with sourdough baking. There is a garden which she enjoys but the plants could do with more love and attention.

Zinnia Foster’s journey through the hospitality industry is a testament to the power of passion, hard work, and community. Her story is not just one of personal achievement but also of the significant impact one individual can have on an industry and a region. As she looks to the future, Zinnia remains committed to championing the hospitality sector, advocating for its growth, and supporting the vibrant community of Nelson and beyond.

Feedback from the hospitality members highlights the need to see Nelson City host more events, recognising the substantial positive impact these activities have on the local economy, especially for hospitality businesses. Moreover, there is a clear appeal for enhanced support towards the sector’s expansion. This includes encouraging businesses to broaden their services, like increasing street dining options, with the goal of revitalising the inner city into a more vibrant and engaging environment.

In her own words, “I love problem-solving…I love how passionate people are,” encapsulating her drive to foster a thriving hospitality industry. Her vision for a vibrant, collaborative, and supportive hospitality community in Nelson stands out as a key driving force in her role.

You can contact Zinnie Foster on or visit the website


Click here to find out more…

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top