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Man walking alone through dense tall forest track



Our Guiding Heritage

Our tourism roots extend back to the first European explorers.

In the 1840s, interpreter and writer, Edward Shortland set out on a journey to explore Te Waipounamu (the South Island) and gather information about native land claims. However, Shortland, like other early Pākehā, was unfamiliar with the rugged and unforgiving southern terrain, so to ensure a safe passage he sought help from local Ngāi Tahu guides.  

These guides had an intimate understanding of the Southern landscape, and they used their knowledge to help early explorers travel through the difficult inland passes, across the treacherous rivers, and around the wild coastlines. Along the way the Ngāi Tahu guides introduced these manuhiri (visitors) to the local foods, traditions, and the people. Since this early period, Ngāi Tahu has been hosting, looking after, and guiding foreigners through Te Waipounamu (the South Island). 

Jet boat driving down narrow canyon with autumn trees either side

Ngāi Tahu Tourism beginnings

In 1998, after 7 generations of campaigning by Ngāi Tahu elders, the Ngāi Tahu Settlement Act was passed, and the tribe received redress from the Crown for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. The settlement included a formal apology and cash settlement of $170 million.

In 1999 Ngāi Tahu Tourism was established. Using the settlement funds, we purchased the iconic Shotover Jet and began to build a portfolio of other tourism businesses from there. 

Today, Ngāi Tahu Tourism is one of the largest tourism operators in Aotearoa.

Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri, ā muri ake nei

- For us and our children after us.