New Zealand is now ranked 7th on countries people would most like to visit sometime in their lives. In the last three years, 1.1 million visitors participated in some form of walking or hiking. Domestic tourism contributed to $14 billion to New Zealand’s economy by year-end 2013. In summary, tourism is a major part of what New Zealand now is to the world; a beautiful, mystical land with welcoming people.
Similar popularity in conservation and the environment has also increased over the last decade with major documentaries and resource on the matter. Despite dividing the world straight in two, global warming has contributed to more millennials travelling the globe than ever before.
As locals, we see these people pass through our airports, line the carparks of Lake Pukaki and fill our stadiums during major sporting events. We are welcoming and polite and leave lasting marks on these people when they get home. However, we still hold our land and our environmental structure very close to our hearts.
The thought of foreign millionaires buying up our land for their own personal development boils kiwi blood. The news that 37% of litter is the result of uneducated tourists not adapting to our culture fills us with discouragement. Time and time again, our faith in authorities managing this, charging locals more to stay in huts (due to tourism increasing) and not providing us enough solution to help, has thrown a fog on our future.
If there was a way to bring all these people together, to help and contribute, to build communities back up and supply more jobs, would you do it?
This is what Bushman Tours focuses on. On global scale, we can bring people together to do what they love. They can learn and make friends for life all while getting to places they never thought possible in New Zealand.
“When I met my German girlfriend, I asked her what she had been doing in Christchurch the last eight months. She said that she’d only worked and occasionally done short walks around the Port Hills. Many nights were filled researching what to do with little results other than to head to Queenstown” says Chief Bushman, Ollie Law.
“When we went on our first date, I took her for a walk with my dog up Mount Oxford. A tough climb and hot weather, I was worried how she’d take it. But one week later I started getting messages from her hostel friends asking if I would pick them up and lead them up the mountain. Even though I thought the hike was straight forward to get on, they assured me that there was no other way to get there”.
From this experience, the opportunity to scale the concept began to take shape.
“Over 2017, I began writing out the concept on a larger scale across New Zealand. The question to answer was, would New Zealanders be happy to take out our tourists and visitors while being paid for it?”
A large-scale research program took place for the organisation. A team of 35 researchers began looking into the layout of the business and what others had done in the past, only to find zero evidence it had been adopted already. During his global travels throughout 2018, Bushman Ollie asked nearly 200 people he met in passing what their thoughts were on the concept. “I was both shocked and overwhelmingly excited to hear not a single objection”.
While writing his strategy, Bushman Ollie’s mentor was scheduled to have a few wines and catch up with him one afternoon. This well-known, successful director and board member was able to dissect the concept and ask some harsh but vital questions on the organisations why.
During this meeting she disclosed the information and situation of the West Coast of the South Island. “Those people are extremely passionate and committed to their region, but unfortunately they’ve lost more an more opportunities to work. If you can give back to those communities somehow, you will get buy-in from many more influencers”.
Realizing that Bushman Tours could become something bigger than originally thought, Bushman Ollie set out to directly target and offer opportunities for local Coast people. The only problem was, there were few promoted hikes to go on. Until June 2018.
Much of the Paparoa ranges was inaccessible to locals for many years until the Department of Conservation aimed to open a new Great Walk. Now, locals and visitors are able to walk the deep, pristine wilderness of the West Coast in tribute to the tragic events of the Pike River mine disaster where 29 men lost their lives.
With the accelerated decline of the mining industry, the opening of this track comes in the nick of time for the locals. Hoping that with its opening, more tourists will stay and contribute to the economy, the coast may still be able to maintain its rustic, historic soul.
Bushman Tours plans to use the opening of these amazing walks and the guidance of the local people to attract and withhold the tourist population.
It’s opportunities like this that give meaning and passion for Bushman Tours. Being able to work with locals, charities and scientists to control and educate our tourists allow us to make a meaningful difference.
It’s those and many similar reasons that give us the drive to be who we are today and who we want to become.