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Queenstown guiding company wins best tour operator award

Media Release from Guided Walks New Zealand
10 September 2012

Queenstown guiding company wins best tour operator award

New Zealand’s oldest guiding company, Queenstown-based Guided Walks New Zealand (trading as Guided Nature Walks), has won a top award in the prestigious New Zealand Travel Industry Awards 2012.

Now in its 145th year, the company won the ‘Best Tour Operator – domestic’ category, with owners Peter and Karyn Hitchman on hand to pick up the award in Auckland on Saturday night.

“We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved at Guided Nature Walks, and now to be the winners of the Best Tour Operator for New Zealand is very special indeed,” said Mr Hitchman.

“Karyn and I were very pleasantly surprised to have made into the finals of the awards, and no-one could have been more delighted than we are to have won it, especially considering the high standard of finalists in our category and others.

“To be recognised by our peers who voted the company into the finals meant so much, so we'd like to thank everyone who has supported us in one way or another, and all the tourism agents and companies that believe in us and voted for us.

“We would especially like to say a big ‘thank you’ to our team of hugely experienced guides, who are the ‘face’ of Guided Walks New Zealand for the hundreds of visitors who enjoy our trips each and every year.

“We have an amazing team of people who enjoy what they do, and that comes across in every aspect of the business and is reflected in the client feedback we receive.”

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Guided Nature Walks is synonymous with back country guiding in New Zealand, having begun operations on the Routeburn Track in 1868. Since taking the helm of the company, Mr and Mrs Hitchman have gone from strength to strength through their commitment to adding innovative new products, including snowshoeing in 2009 and heli-snowshoeing in 2012.

Another new product, ‘You vs Wild’, has also proved a huge ‘hit’, creating a uniquely Kiwi experience. Led by Mr Hitchman, a former UK bodyguard and survival expert, You vs Wild gives clients a taste of what it's like to survive off the land, with nothing but a knife, a few things they might have on their person, or items discarded by others.

Mr Hitchman said the New Zealand Travel Industry Award benchmarked the company as a leader in the New Zealand guiding industry.

“Our business philosophy is one of focusing on continual business innovation as well as client experience, staff satisfaction, and protecting the environment for future generations to enjoy,” he said.

Further information on Guided Nature Walks and its products are available on or

About Guided Walks New Zealand Ltd

Peter and Karyn Hitchman have been guiding and instructing in the mountains and forests of New Zealand for over a decade, taking groups deep into the lush forests and high above the snow line into the pristine, untouched world of the alpine region. They have a vast knowledge of the flora, fauna, history and geology of this beautiful region. With the on-going assistance of Richard Bryant, a fourth generation Queenstown local and the pioneer of Guided Walks New Zealand, they have a huge source of information and history that is unavailable anywhere else.

Guided Walks New Zealand is the only company permitted to guide ‘off track’, and it specialises in knowledge of edible and medicinal plants used by Maori and the pioneers of New Zealand. The company’s local, friendly and knowledgeable guides ensure guests have the time to enjoy the whole experience nature has provided. Guided Nature Walks is the original guiding company in Queenstown and possibly New Zealand – guiding since 1868.

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