New Zealand Walking Tours
The Story of How We Started
New Zealand walking tours have been run by Hiking New Zealand since 1993, when the company was called New Zealand Nature Safaris. Founded by Mark Brabyn, his vision was to offer visitors New Zealand walking tours using tourism to support conservation. Daniel and Anne Murphy bought into the business at the beginning of 2005 and they too have ensured the business has remained true to the founding principles. Malcolm O'Neill, the founder of Active Earth joined the ownership team after Hiking New Zealand and Active Earth merged. After years of working together great synergies were formed between the companies; from the level of service offered, style of operation and our shared environmental values.
Mark was inspired by his love of walking in New Zealand's wild places and his passionate interest in wildlife. His own New Zealand walking tours started back with family and club trips in the hills around Wellington and progressed to tramping adventures in the South Island's mountains. He studied zoology at university and researched the enigma of whale strandings, then assisted with overseas research projects including killer whales and bald eagles in Alaska, elephants and chimpanzees in Uganda. Mark wanted to share his appreciation of nature and to motivate people to care about the special places, plants and animals on our planet.
To realise his New Zealand walking tours dream, Mark bought a minibus, printed some simple brochures, and began guiding walking tours (safaris) in New Zealand's South Island. In 1994 his friend Malcolm O'Neill started running the North Island safaris. Mark and Malcolm built up the business and employed other guides, seeking people with extensive outdoor experience, a wide range of skills and lots of enthusiasm. New Zealand walking tours and safari itineraries have since been modified and new trips added in a process of continual improvement.
Daniel started with the company in 2000 as a guide. He couldn't believe his luck when he started working for Hiking New Zealand and actually got paid to spend time in all his favorite places with lots of like minded people from all over the world! After a few seasons guiding Daniel moved into the operations manager role, which was a great opportunity to learn about how the other side of the company worked and get involved with the guide recruitment and developing new trips. As for Anne, she was caught up in the corporate world a few years ago, but she managed to escape it when she met Daniel in 1998, and took him up on his offer of moving to Spain for a year to help him run a lodge and guide walking tours. As you'd expect, they are both lovers of the outdoors, and when they are not busy with the business they love to get out and explore the backcountry.
Malcolm started Active Earth in the mid-1990s. Even before he could walk, Malcolm was being carried through New Zealand wilderness in a pack on his father’s back. Since those early days, he has hiked, climbed, and cycled throughout New Zealand and in many exotic locations worldwide. He squeezed in time to get a BSc in physical geography and co-authored a popular guidebook, Classic New Zealand Adventures. It wasn’t a surprise, considering his passion for the outdoors, when Malcolm joined Mark (the founder of Hiking New Zealand) and began running North Island adventure tours in the summer of 1994/1995. The merging of Hiking New Zealand and Active Earth in 2011 sees the old school friends working side by side again and offering tours nationwide.
Today our most popular Hiking Safaris and walking tours have weekly departures during the summer season and we run around 90 trips each year. We have expanded our business to include selling excellent trips run by other New Zealand operators enabling us to provide a greater diversity of experiences catering for a wider range of people. We now use the name Hiking New Zealand because it describes more accurately the focus of our trips making it easier for people to find us.
Our dream to put something back into conservation is now reality with the founding of the NZ Wildlife Research Fund in 1998. Each year we make a substantial donation to support conservation research on Hectors dolphins.
Hiking New Zealand
was founded with the following objectives:
To immerse you in New Zealand's wildernessNew Zealand has some of the world's best wilderness areas, and our New Zealand walking tours will safely take you to some of these places.
To show you how to look after yourself in the great outdoorsAll our guides love the outdoors and feel very familiar with the outdoor environment. We want to make you feel the same way. On our walking tours, we can show you how to read a map, light a campfire, cross a river...
To give you the sense of accomplishment that goes with facing and overcoming challengesOur New Zealand walking tours, safaris and hikes are what we call "Active Outdoor Adventures". We challenge you in many different ways. You will leave the trip with a sense of accomplishment.
To foster environmental awarenessBeing in the wilderness provides a great opportunity to learn more about the natural environment. Our guides have thorough knowledge of flora and fauna, but what we really want is to give you a greater awareness of the environment so you'll think and act more towards its preservation.
To have funWe feel that while doing all the above it is very important to have fun. That's why you go on holiday. Another of the great things that comes out of being on a walking tour or hike in New Zealand is the feeling of closeness within a group, with everybody looking out for each other.
To support conservation through tourismFor every client who comes on one of our safaris, we donate $5 to the New Zealand Wildlife Research Fund. This fund has been used to support research on the conservation biology of the endangered Hectors dolphin. To date we have donated over $60,000.
Did you know?
The rare flightless takahe are being saved through a captive breeding programme which involves using a takahe glove puppet to feed the chicks so they will know who they are.