Poutama pattern

Kia Ora

At Ngāi Tahu Tourism, our purpose is to make the connection with
our customers, through our people, to our place and to Ngāi Tahu.

We are one of the largest tourism operators in Aotearoa (New Zealand), hosting customers across a range of iconic businesses. These include Shotover Jet, All Blacks Experience, Guided Walks New Zealand, Hollyford Track, Dart River Adventures, Franz Josef Glacier Guides, Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools, Hukafalls Jet, Agrodome, and Rainbow Springs. We are also a 50 percent owner in the famous astro-tourism experience Dark Sky Project.

We are owned by Ngāi Tahu, the biggest iwi by population in Te Waipounamu (the South Island). With over 70,000 registered tribal members we are one of the largest whānau-owned businesses in Aotearoa.

We take great pride in warmly welcoming manuhiri (visitors) to our experiences. Manaakitanga (hospitality) is one of the core values that drives the way we do business. As hosts, we care for our customers and our team as our own whānau.

Our tourism roots extend back to when our ancestors were the guides for many of the first European explorers. Tourism allows us to host manuhiri, reconnect with ngā awa (rivers), ngā maunga (mountains) and te moana (the sea), and provide lasting memories for our customers.

Through our story-telling based experiences, Dark Sky Project, Dart River Adventures, Hollyford Track and Franz Josef Glacier Guides, we are also able to share one of our tribe’s most precious treasures – the stories of our traditions.

Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri, ā muri ake nei
For us and our children after us

Our Experiences

Our Origins

Nāia te mihi kau, nāia te maioha e rere ana ki a koutou, kai te mihi atu rā.
Greetings and salutations to you all.

Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand (Aotearoa), first arrived in waka unua (double hulled voyaging canoes) from Hawaiki more than 600 years ago.

Māori connections with the land, mountains and water of New Zealand, are steeped in history going right back to the traditional accounts of creation.

The South Island creation account tells of the ancient atua, or demi-god, Aoraki ,who, with his brothers, came down from the heavens following a family dispute in the home of their father, Raki, the Sky Father. They voyaged in Aoraki’s canoe – ‘Te Waka o Aoraki’ to visit their home mother, Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother.

Setting out on their return to the heavens, Aoraki made a mistake in the karakia (incantation) he was reciting and the waka stranded on a reef . Aoraki and his companions became marooned on the high side of the wreck. The wreckage formed the South Island with the Marlborough Sounds being the shattered Tau Ihu (carved prow) and Motupōhue (Bluff Hill) being the sternpost. As time passed Aoraki and his brothers turned to stone, their hair turned white and they became the highest peaks of Kā Tiritiri o Te Moana – the Southern Alps. Aoraki (Mount Cook) is the highest mountain in New Zealand and a great tribal symbol of Ngāi Tahu.

Tū Te Raki Whanoa, the son of Aoraki, came searching and discovered their fate. After mourning his kin he set about reshaping the wreckage of the great waka. It was he who made the island a fit place for people to come to. Singing powerful karakia (incantations), he began attacking the towering rock walls with his adze, Te Hamo, carving out steep cliffs, deep rocky gorges and long waterways. With his assistants, he stocked the coast with fish and clothed the land with forest.

For Māori, these traditions represent the links between the world of the gods and present generations.

Ngāi Tahu are the Māori people of Te Waipounamu. We have our origins in three main streams of migration. The first people to arrive in the southern islands migrating here from Hawaiki, were a people known as Waitaha. They arrived here under the leadership of Rākaihautū and his son, Rokohuia on the waka (canoe) Uruao.

Rākaihautū is credited with creating the great lake system of our island, Te Waipounamu, by striking the ground with his great ko (digging stick) as he explored the inland regions. Rākaihautū and his people explored Te Waipounamu and in tribal traditions, imposed their whakapapa or genealogy on the land. They named the natural features and blessed the land with the spiritual essence of their ancestors.

The plentiful resources of Te Waipounamu called others to abandon their homes in the Te Ika a Māui (North Island) and move southward. This led to the second wave of migration undertaken by the descendants of Whatua Māmoe who came down from the east coast of Te Ika a Māui to claim a place for themselves in the south. These people came to be known as Kāti Māmoe and through intermarriage and conquest these migrants merged with the resident Waitaha and took over authority of Te Waipounamu.

Ngāi Tahu are the third and largest wave of Māori migration to move to the South Island, arriving over two generations from the North Island’s east coast. Ngāi Tahu integrated with the existing South Island people through intermarriage and treaties. They also learned the traditions and customs of these tribes and by the mid eighteenth century the three streams of descent were fused into one iwi or tribe.

Ngāi Tahu means "descendants of Tahu". Tahu Potiki is the tribe’s founding ancestor. It is the fourth largest iwi (tribe) in Aotearoa with over 70,000 people registered.

Throughout Te Waipounamu there are 18 local rūnanga (tribal councils). An elected representative from each rūnanga makes up Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the governing body overseeing iwi (tribal) activities.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu was established by the Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Act 1996 and ensures the benefits of Crown Settlement are enjoyed by Ngāi Tahu Whānui (tribal members) now and in the future.

The tribe's whakataukī or proverb is

Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei
For us and our children after us.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi

The Treaty of Waitangi

The Treaty of Waitangi is New Zealand's founding document, which was first signed on 6 February, 1840. The Treaty is an agreement, with versions in Māori and English, between the British Crown and around 540 Māori rangatira (chiefs). In return for British sovereignty or kāwanatanga the chiefs were guaranteed their autonomous control of their lands, forests and fisheries or tino rangatiratanga together with their ‘treasures’ taonga.

The Treaty was signed in Te Waipounamu (the South Island) at four different locations, three of which were within the Ngāi Tahu takiwā (territory). As a result of the signings at Akaroa, Ruapuke Island and Ōtākou, Ngāi Tahu became a party to the Treaty of Waitangi. It was a treaty of cession, transferring Ngāi Tahu sovereignty to the Crown in return for important guarantees.

Between 1848 and 1864 Ngāi Tahu entered into a series of land sales to the Crown, but as early as 1849 the Crown defaulting on the agreements. Relationships between Ngāi Tahu and the Crown became progressively more difficult and deep suspicions of the Crown's good faith by some Ngāi Tāhu chiefs were confirmed. The Ngāi Tahu Claim, 'Te Kerēme', was born.

The Crown had failed to set aside the adequate reserves they had promised to Ngāi Tahu, which was 10 per cent of the 34.5 million acres they were sold. There were also disputes over boundaries, and the Crown's failure to establish the promised schools and hospitals. In addition, the tribe lost its access to its mahinga kai, or food gathering resources, and other sacred places. Robbed of the opportunity to participate in the land-based economy alongside the settlers, Ngāi Tahu became an impoverished and virtually landless tribe.

Generations later, the Ngāi Tahu claim against the crown, 'Wai 27', prompted an extensive inquiry over 3½ years. It involved 23 hearings, 900 submissions, 262 witnesses and 25 corporate bodies.

In the Ngāi Tahu settlement of 1998, our tribe received cultural redress in the form of confirmation of the ability for Ngāi Tahu to express its traditional kaitiaki or guardianship relationship with the environment, tribal redress, an apology from the Crown, acknowledgement of the role of Aoraki (Mt Cook) and economic redress in the form of a payment of $170 million and the ability to purchase property from the Crown.

This financial acknowledgement has allowed the tribe economically and culturally re-establish itself. Today, Ngāi Tahu has interests in fishing, tourism, property as well as a diversified equities portfolio, all of which are managed through Ngāi Tahu Holdings Ltd, parent company of Ngāi Tahu Tourism.

About Us

The investment in tourism has helped Ngāi Tahu
reconnect to areas of significant historical importance.

Queenstown and the surrounding area was traditionally an important mahinga kai (resource area) for Ngāi Tahu. It was rich with birds, fish and pounamu (greenstone), an important and valuable stone used to make tools, weapons and to trade with northern tribes. For centuries, southern based Ngāi Tahu people would seasonally visit the area to gather these resources and return home to their more permanent coastal settlements. There are many Ngāi Tahu stories and traditions in the area.

However, because there were no permanent Ngāi Tahu settlements, settlers moved in with ease and set up, ignorant to the existing Ngāi Tahu traditions. The Crown also failed to ensure Ngāi Tahu access to the promised mahinga kai sites, which meant Ngāi Tahu lost its connection to the area.

Today, Ngāi Tahu Tourism owns businesses in the area, which has helped Ngāi Tahu reconnect to the Queenstown area and be a significant contributor to the local community.

The profits from Ngāi Tahu Tourism are used for further investment opportunities and distributed back to the Ngāi Tahu people to support cultural, educational, social and wellbeing initiatives.

Ngāi Tahu Tourism, along with Ngāi Tahu Property, Ngāi Tahu Seafood, Ngāi Tahu Farming and Ngāi Tahu Capital, have contributed to the millions that have been put into tribal development since settlement in 1998.

Much of the investment has been direct to tribal members through Papatipu Rūnanga (local tribal councils), a matched savings programme, education scholarships and grants.

These direct distributions deliver immediate benefit to the people of the tribe. The flagship project Whai Rawa allows tribal members access to a financial saving scheme where tribal members can save for their education, home ownership and retirement through matched savings.

Tribal members also benefit through a series of grants and programmes to support cultural revitalisation and education achievement.

Where we can, we strive to think of the iwi first, for example, when it comes to employment and scholarship opportunities.

Ngāi Tahu Tourism offers Te Pia Tāpoi Scholarship for students of Ngāi Tahu descent studying tourism. The scholarship is designed to encourage more people to consider the tourism industry as an exciting and worthwhile career option. Scholarships are offered each year and include fees, valuable work experience within our businesses, mentoring from staff and opportunities to learn about Ngāi Tahu history.

Work with Us

We'd love you to join our team!

We strive to be an employer of choice, providing a safe and healthy working environment and the encouragement to become part of a successful enterprise.

View our current opportunities and register for job alerts >>

Iwi opportunities

Ngāi Tahu Tourism is a whānau-owned business, dedicated to delivering benefits back to the iwi and our more than 70,000 whānau owners, and to the local communities where we operate. We offer a number of scholarship opportunities for Ngāi Tahu whānau – check them out below.

Te Pia Tāpoi

Ngāi Tahu Tourism offers Te Pia Tāpoi Scholarship for students
of Ngāi Tahu descent studying tourism.

Tēnā koe! Are you interested in tourism and keen to make your mark on the industry? Want to work for one of the largest tourism operators in Aotearoa? Ngāi Tahu Tourism’s Te Pia Tāpoi scholarship is aimed at Ngāi Tahu students starting or already studying a tourism qualification.

This scholarship is an opportunity for someone enthusiastic and hard-working to get support with study fees, paid holiday work and opportunities to grow their cultural skills. Ngāi Tahu Tourism owns and operates some of the most iconic experiences in Aotearoa, from the thrills of Shotover Jet to the tranquillity of the Hollyford Valley. It is our goal to make the connection with our visitors through our team, to Aotearoa and to Ngāi Tahu, ensuring they have an experience they will remember forever. Manaakitanga (hospitality) is the core value that drives the way we do business; connecting with and taking care of manuhiri (visitors) goes to the heart of Māori culture and is the essence of what we do. Tourism allows Ngāi Tahu to host visitors, reconnect with the environment and to share our most precious treasures and stories.

If you are Ngāi Tahu, we want you!

Scholarship criteria and conditions

Students must:

  • be registered with the Ngāi Tahu whakapapa unit
  • be enrolling or currently studying an NZQA approved tertiary qualification in tourism
  • have a satisfactory academic record or suitable personal references
  • be available to work in either Queenstown, Rotorua, Taupō, Takapō or Franz Josef during the summer undertaking paid work experience
  • have an interest in working in the tourism sector
  • be committed to participating in a cultural programme
  • be committed to learn or improve te reo Māori skills
  • satisfy due diligence checks required for the scholarship and/or any paid employment.

Scholarship details:

  • Up to $6,000 toward course fees per year for three years
  • Opportunity to participate in Aoraki Bound
  • Paid work experience in one of NTT’s businesses. No accommodation will be provided.

Applications are currently closed.

Marine Mechanic Apprenticeship

Ngāi Tahu Tourism offers a marine mechanic training programme
for people of Ngāi Tahu descent who have a passion for mechanics.

He karanga tēnei mō tētahi uri o Tahu Pōtiki! Nau mai haramai!

Kia ora! Do you know the difference between a throttle and thermostat? We are looking for people of all ages, from all walks of life who descend from Ngāi Tahu and have a passion for mechanics. If you are interested in a career in jet boat mechanics than our apprenticeship could be for you….so if you’re mechanically minded read on!

The apprenticeship is an opportunity for someone enthusiastic and hardworking to achieve their marine mechanic qualification while working in our exciting businesses in the Queenstown region.

You might be someone that is already trade qualified and wanting to specialize in marine engineering or you could be someone who loves all things mechanical and wants to gain a full qualification.

The successful applicant will not only be paid while gaining their marine mechanics qualification, they will also get the opportunity to improve their cultural skills and further connect with their Iwi.

Applications are currently closed, and reopen midyear 2021.

Matakahi Scholarship

Haere mai, if you're Ngāi Tahu we want you!

Ngāi Tahu Matakahi Scholarships aim to encourage and support Ngāi Tahu whānau into commercial and business careers. The scholarships support you for up to three years and offer:

  • financial support
  • paid work placements
  • support into graduate positions
  • cultural development and more!

We are looking for students who are in their second year or above, studying a qualification that may lead to a role within our commercial businesses or commercial partners. This may include Commerce, Environmental Sciences, Property/Land Management, Tourism, Agriculture, Information Technology, Law or Sciences.

Applications are taken in March each year.

Our Businesses

All Blacks Experience
Dark Sky Project
Dart River Adventures
Franz Josef Glacier Guides
Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools
Hollyford Track
Hukafalls Jet
Rainbow Springs Nature Park
Shotover Jet


Take a look at the trade collateral we have available to download.
If you would like to partner with us, please contact tourism@nttourism.co.nz

Contact Us

Ngāi Tahu Tourism
PO Box 3075
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Christchurch, New Zealand
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