Why you should pay for a tour guide on your New Zealand holiday

Hundreds of Kiwi tour guides face an uncertain future, writes Juliette Sivertsen

As soon as Level 2 arrived on May 14, queries on New Zealand’s travel booking websites unsurprisingly skyrocketed. With Covid-19 wiping most overseas holidays off the table for now, New Zealanders have a rare opportunity to travel their own country without having to contend with international tourists.

And while it appears Kiwis are keen to support domestic tourism, those efforts may only stretch so far. Many New Zealanders don’t understand the value of a guide in their own country.

Kayak guide Kyle Mulinder has been doing guided adventure tours for nearly 20 years. But with his guiding future in limbo, he says he’s concerned New Zealanders won’t pay extra money to hire guides in their own country, if there’s a chance they can do it themselves.

“We’ve all been brought up with ‘she’ll be right’ and a number 8 wire attitude and that is deeply ingrained in our culture of ‘well I can do this myself’. And we’ve also taken things for granted for so long, like having national parks for free,” says Mulinder, who grew up in Hawke’s Bay and now does kayak tours in the Abel Tasman.

“We have a different psyche and when we go overseas we get terrible guides… we get cheesy guides that are literally high school students or university students with no qualifications, who do that cheesy summer camp style ‘are you ready? Give me some energy!'”

Mulinder is at pains to point out that New Zealand guides aren’t like that.

“Stop bloody comparing us to those bulls**t ones overseas.”

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