Pioneering Queenstown tourism operator turns 30
New Zealand’s first off-road tour operator Off Road Adventures is celebrating 30 years in business this month.
The trailblazing Queenstown company has led the NZ tourism scene for three decades with its unique offering of world-class sports buggy, quad, dirt, adventure and road bike adventures and 4x4 off-road sightseeing tours.
Off Road Adventures’ founding director Denis Columb says the birthday is a significant milestone for the company, which has grown from humble backcountry beginnings to now being ranked as the Adventure Capital of the World’s number one guided tour operator on TripAdvisor.
With the addition of two accommodation hubs in Naseby and the Hakataramea Valley, Off Road Adventures has positioned itself as the prime operator for unique all-inclusive South Island off-road expeditions.
“Over the past 30 years we have hosted more than 150,000 commercial tours and 320,000 hours of guiding throughout our incredible region,” he says. “There have been many outstanding people who have supported my wife Marilyn and I along the way and we’ve hosted some great guests, many of whom have become long-term friends and now bring along new generations of their families. It’s been a fun journey and one that’s not ready to slow down any time soon.”
The company is now an official partner of Yamaha New Zealand and operates with 150 top-of-the-range bikes, sports buggies and 4x4s and provides exclusive access to some of the South Island’s most isolated beauty spots.
The exhilarating tours are run by experienced guides, including Denis and Marilyn’s children; Brendon, Lachie, Scott and Alanna. The family have amassed a tally of 13 national titles, with Scott excelling in supercross and motocross, Lachie quad bike racing and Alanna claiming three titles in downhill mountain biking. They have represented New Zealand on the international stage and their roles alongside eldest son Brendon, a full-time quad bike guide, have been an asset to the operation.
“Our family lives and breathes everything off-road and that has no doubt been integral to the longevity and success of the business. We genuinely love nothing more than sharing our passion with visitors,” Denis says. “From introducing young families to the joy of off-roading in Queenstown to challenging the most ardent off-road enthusiasts on multi-day expeditions, we enjoy giving our guests a ride to remember.”
Denis established the company in 1989 following a chance meeting with two German tourists seeking a guided motorcycle tour in Queenstown. As a self-employed plumber with an interest in motorcycles, Denis took the tourists out himself and subsequently turned his love of bikes into a business. Today, Off Road Adventures offers everything from one-hour adventures in the Southern Lakes to bespoke, luxury multi-day expeditions across the entire South Island.
“We want to take people off the beaten track and push the boundaries in tourism for a true Kiwi adventure,” he says. “We always go the extra mile to ensure all of our guests are as safe as can be and have the time of their life.
“After 30 years in business we are now excited by the growth in consumers who are looking to get off the tourist trails and book our tailormade multi-day expeditions on two and four wheels. It enables us to utilise our experience and show off parts of the South Island that not many people get to see. Our acquisition of Naseby Lodge has also been great in this regard – it’s an excellent and tranquil overnighting hub.”