We’re starting a new segment to welcome new members and feature existing members in more detail.
First up this week is Wild Kiwi Tours, a new member and also a finalist in the visitor experience category of the upcoming New Zealand Tourism Awards.
The company offers small group adventure tours in New Zealand, catering to 18 to 35-year olds in the growing "flashpacker" market.
Wild Kiwi Tours was founded by Kiwi friends Daniel Painter and Jeremy Gleeson who went to Europe and decided there was a niche in the market for skippered sailing holidays for younger travellers like themselves.
Their first company, Medsailors, led to another more luxurious one for older travellers, both of which are still thriving.
When Daniel returned to New Zealand in 2011, Wild Kiwi was born.
With 30% of their European business coming from Australians and Kiwis, Daniel and Jeremy entered the New Zealand marketplace with confidence. “We thought we knew the youth travel industry very well. But it was a bit of a baptism of fire,” Daniel admits.
The New Zealand market turned out to have a much higher ratio of solo travellers.
But the idea of smaller tours that went to nicer hostels and catered to a slightly more high-end youth traveller took off, and in 2019, it was handling 3500 travellers a year.
Wild Kiwi went “straight back” to those levels last summer, and Daniel says it was particularly wonderful to have all their driver guides return, despite an industry shortage.
“We had a really good culture prior to Covid, we invested in our guys pretty heavily and made sure they all felt part of the family. So when Covid hit, everyone understood where we were and as soon as we popped out the other side, they all came back, which was humbling.”