A Simple Guide on Starting Your own NZ Boat Tour

Starting a boat touring business in New Zealand can be tedious and just like any other business, for you to achieve success, there are different parts that you must put together. With so many information available online and offline it can be quite difficult knowing the first steps to begin with. This guide will serve as a blueprint as you go through the steps.

This guide encourages you to make your first trip, helping you focus on the most important tasks on the way, ensure you're boat is in Good working condition by checking out the fantastic NZ marine directory: Marine Services, as this is a very essential factor in staying in compliance with the local laws.

#1. Market Research

While this would seem like an obvious step to carry out, it’s importance may be overlooked. The process of researching your market is in two phases - your first have to evaluate the opportunity available in terms of prospects and trends and secondly, you have to plan out how much money you need to be making in order to be profitable with your tour.

Is the niche you have picked viable, are there other areas that are not being explored? And what is your ideal customer going to look like? What is the location of these people? Are they present in your town or city or will they come from a place close by? What is the level of competition? You can check these pieces information with the local information centre to see if they have a market research resource that can help identify the challenges and opportunities, and also carry out extensive research on google to see if there is anyone offering the same service.

#2. Get Your Business Registered

This is when you get official. Now you can go ahead to choose a name, buy a domain, create a logo, and get an IRD number for a separate bank account. You can become a limited liability, sole proprietorship, corporation. or a partnership company. They all offer legal benefits but evaluate the pros and cons before choosing one to go with. You can also seek legal guidance from a professional about the basics of starting a business, this will.

#3. Start a Compliance Process with Local Laws

Becoming a tour guide and a skipper is very different from recreational boating the places you are taking people to also matter and for sea boating, a Skipper Restricted Limit (SRL) licence is required at least. A commercial license must be acquired by river jet boat operators, make sure you find out which license is needed for your service before you start carrying passengers. Also if you’ll be moving passengers around with a vehicle, you’ll need to get passengers endorsement on your license.

Vessels carrying over 50 passengers by law must have a plan to handle disaster if need be. The plan will entail the type of boat, it’s passenger capacity, number of human resources available and how a disaster will be handled. If you are guiding, the coastguard offers a number of courses for every level up until becoming a skilled professional. These qualification help your customers trust you and give you permission to lead people around a particular geographical area. Also, you should enter your business into the maritime operators' safety system (MOSS) at least three months before you take on your first passenger.

#4. Develop a Tour Program

This is the fun part. Chances are that you have already been thinking of this from the beginning, the places you want to take people to, and things you want to show them. Have a proper record and plan of them and get second opinions and get valuable feedback.

Check what's already available in the market, what are your competitors doing? What can you do differently to standard out? What extra services can you offer, catered meals, pick up and drop off, or other leisure activities such as a lesson on how to fish.

A compelling story for your tour is also important and will, as it will relay your services to more people as your guests tell their friends about the neat things they learnt in the weeks that follow. Make sure your story has a clear narrative by including a definite beginning, the middle, and an end, this makes your tour more memorable.

Also, you should remember that the tours are repetitive, hence, you should show passion when telling your story. If you aren’t passionate enough, ou may get sick of telling the same story many times a day, and this can be easily noticed by the guests.

#5. Start Acquiring Customers

The mantra of “build it, and they will come” doesn’t work anymore, you will have to put in some work in getting your first customers. How do you plan to acquire customers? Are you doing so offline by distributing flyers around tourist spots online or will you be marketing your tours online on your website or on other platforms?

You should also determine what you will charge. Have your operating cost and market value in mind but remember that what customers can pay is essential. Also, have price plans for seasonality, as well as for children and groups. Don’t neglect the place of testing, try out different prices with different people and groups as you are starting out until you find the perfect number that works well.


When you are running a boat tour business, you spend your time doing what you love in a place you love. The steps above will help you hit the ground running with your boat tour business. Some other factors will help you stay longer and expand in the game. By talking to other guides, finding a mentor, attending seminars and contributing to local tourism communities, you can successfully plan a trip to a different location with guides running the same type of business.

Kevin Smith

About the Author

Kevin Smith

Ahoy there! The name’s Kevin Smith, the proprietor of this little travel and outdoors blog. The outdoors has always been a passion of mine since I was a kid as my parents were avid campers themselves. They taught me everything I know when it comes to camping, hiking etc. and I would like to do my part by imparting my know-how to like-minded individuals who enjoy the same hobby as me. I started this website in the hopes of helping other people when it comes to answering questions, giving tips and recommendations focusing on the camping niche. Along with some close friends of mine, we are here to help you make the most out of your outdoor experience. Enjoy your stay and enjoy the wild side!

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