Originally posted on Exploring Our Globe, Aug 2020.
New Zealand is one of the first countries in the world to isolate a significant pandemic. The huge moat the country is surrounded by (the Tasman and Pacific Oceans) means that there are only 3 airports and 5 major ports to keep under lock and key. And although some small issues of community outbreak have occurred, the rest of the world seems mostly unfazed.
Domestic tourism has an opportunity to thrive and take advantage of the smaller crowds.
If the country continues to keep up the effort, it will become a haven for travellers both domestically and internationally for many years to come. The result has generated a buzz around New Zealand’s travel options and how to explore locally.
1 in 4 adults indicated in the Active NZ survey 2017 that they go for at least one hike each year to get ‘up close and personal with NZ’. The A Walk in the Park analysis by Mountain Safety Council estimated that there were over 7.4 million domestic tramping trips in 2017 alone, with the average NZ tramper completing about 8 trips per year. Domestic travel contributed to 60% ($23.7 billion) of the tourism expenditure.
These figures are unlikely to take a hit despite COVID-19 restrictions. Businesses looking to innovate more options for travellers will continue to support the industry, but maybe none more so than Bushman Tours who have built and released a new platform for locals and travellers alike.
Three major concepts set them apart from other tour operators, allowing for a more personal and unique experience when exploring wild New Zealand.
No tour is ever the same
A quick look at the Bushman Tours website, you get the feeling that a lot is on offer, but it feels traditionally kiwi. It has the NZ Made Logo on the footer, Qualmark and almost every page showcases the foundations they support reminding visitors of the values this team has.
Every single tour is designed differently and provides a unique experience each time. One thing that really stands out is being able to see your guide, or in this case, the Bushman (what they call their guides). It’s a pleasant surprise as you’re scrolling through the tours to see the people who run them. That feels unique and reminds one of an exciting sharing economy layout. You can message these people and learn more about their unique experiences and ratings.
The website comes with standard search features that bring results in line with your expectations. What shines through is that no matter where you land, the options are local – tours present themselves proudly like movie posters, passionately showcasing the regions, the people, and the conservation efforts they constantly reiterate.
Take the New Zealand Bush Experience as an example.
Here you will hike through QeII covenant land (highly protected conservation land), across a private station with Bushman Shaun. Private huts and lodges scattered throughout the mountain ranges offer customers the chance to be completely isolated in stunning backcountry surroundings.
Shaun encourages his guests to pick their own routes, to be deeply connected and educated on the natural fauna and flora while being completely separated from a busy world.
The variety of Kiwis who run these tours and design the activities allows the platform to be a breeding ground of exceptionally unique and local experiences.
Browse, and connect with your Bushman or woman
Bushman Tours is a 100% New Zealand built and run business, it’s no surprise then that so too are their Bushmen & women. This seems to generate confidence around who you’ll go out with – perhaps even reassuring customers of what they’re putting their money towards.
Once you’ve chosen your Adventure, picked your extras and the add-ons, you will be sent to a Visitor Dashboard. Here, you can view your itinerary and minimum requirements, but perhaps most exciting, you can get in touch with your Bushman.
The platform encourages you to reach out and talk about what you want to get out of the Adventure. Being able to choose and chat with your guide is a feature that hasn’t been seen before and it allows you to customise the tour even further if you wish.
It’s a fresh and interesting concept being able to connect with someone who you’re likely to be in close proximity with for a few days.
Your Bushman will meet you at an agreed location (including airport pickups), arrange the extra gear you’ve hired, and take you through a thorough safety briefing. Bushman Tours state that their Bushmen are highly experienced individuals who carry GPS, Comprehensive First Aid training, top of the range gear as well as detailed safety checks on every tour.
The tours themselves feel like you’re joining someone who is truly passionate about the outdoors and knows their stuff.
Domestic Tourism Values
“This probably isn’t for everyone”, says Founder of Bushman Tours, Ollie Law in a recent interview with Buy New Zealand Made. “The selling point I think we figured out early on was that it all revolved around the people – the Bushmen and women who are taking out Kiwis and showing them corners of New Zealand that they might not have heard about, or not known how to get to… Our passion lies in finding these areas”.
“We’re not a tourism agency that’s seeking the top dollar, and I never wanted us to be seen as that. It’s always been about people and conservation first”.
It’s clear in their branding and consistent messaging that conservation is why they’re doing this. The what is focused on Adventures, Tours and Exploration throughout a dynamic New Zealand. The how revolves around the people they call Bushmen, “exceptional men and women” who, in their spare time, design and lead experiences unique to them.
You can view the platform and current Adventures today by visiting www.bushmantours.com. A percentage of all bookings is donated to conservation efforts.