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Real Journeys celebrates 60 years in business

20 May 2014

Real Journeys celebrates 60 years in business

Key Southern New Zealand tourism operator Real Journeys celebrates 60 years in business and family ownership this month.

The company used the annual travel showcase TRENZ in Auckland this week to launch its celebrations with a 50’s themed stand and staff resplendent in matching outfits.

Real Journeys was founded in May 1954 by tourism and conservation pioneers Les and Olive Hutchins. Today the company remains largely in Hutchins family ownership with some third generation shareholders now coming through.

Real Journeys Chief Executive Richard Lauder says the Real Journeys story is a remarkable one.

“Les Hutchins crafted the beginnings of this now significant business with his bare hands, shear tenacity and absolute passion for Fiordland. His legacy still shapes how we do things at Real Journeys today and that I believe is why our visitors choose to travel with us,” says Richard.

The Hutchins’ started out walking people into remote Doubtful Sound under the name the Manapouri-Doubtful Sound Tourist Company. In the 60’s they expanded their vessel services on Lake Manapouri and purchased the Te Anau Glowworm Caves and the associated services on Lake Te Anau. They saved the iconic, now 101-year old, Queenstown based steamship the TSS Earnslaw from being scuttled by the Government in 1969. In 1970 they took on the Government monopoly in Milford Sound and started running cruises, adding on flight connections from Queenstown in 1987. Walter Peak High Country Farm was leased and tourism operations commenced there also in the 90s.

In 2013 Real Journeys made the significant acquisition of Cardrona Alpine Resort as well as investing heavily in existing operations such as upgrading Walter Peak and purchasing the underpinning land and assets.

Real Journeys founder Olive Lady Hutchins says her husband Les would be extremely proud of where the company is today and particularly the purchase of Cardrona Alpine Resort.

“Everything we’ve achieved over the last 60 years is due to what our staff do, and especially how they treat our customers – I believe that’s what makes us so special,” says Olive Lady Hutchins.

Richard says people can expect to see more action from Real Journeys in years to come particularly in the conservation space.

“We have expanded notably in recent times and will continue to look at growth opportunities but in the interim we are keen to also connect back with our conservation roots and ensure the areas we operate in are nurtured and preserved.”

(Sir) Les Hutchins was instrumental in the Save Manapouri Campaign which is seen as the beginning of the environmental movement in New Zealand.

Les Hutchins
• In 1978 Les Hutchins was named one of the founding Guardians of the Lakes ( Te Anau and Manapouri) – he held that position for 26 years
• Spent 12 years on the New Zealand Conservation Authority
• Founding patron of the New Zealand National Parks and Conservation Foundation
• In 1988 Les Hutchins was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to tourism
• In 2002 Les Hutchins was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to conservation and tourism
• In 2011 Les was posthumously inducted into the Fairfax Media NZ Business Hall of Fame
• His contribution to Southern New Zealand continues through the Leslie Hutchins Conservation Foundation


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