History – 21 Years of Luxury Touring New Zealand
Canterbury Trails was started in 1994. The founder was a keen traveller and recognised the potential of New Zealand to begin a business specializing in personal, small group tours as well as exclusive private tours with the aim of showing guests the wonders of the South Island and New Zealand. As the company grew guides who were equally passionate about this incredible place were employed. These were carefully chosen and trained to ensure high standards were maintained. In 2009 Canterbury Trails was one of three finalists in the prestigious ITOC Tourism Awards.
It was the original dream to cater for those who prefer smaller, more intimate group tours and give guests a truly memorable experience of New Zealand – a visit which would be both unique and relaxed. All the tours have been or are created with this continued aim in mind. The hands on approach, with the owner / guide creating the itineraries, results in tours which allow for the best use of time, terrain, activities, variable seasons and accommodation. Being small group tours, there is far more flexibility with the time and activities to allow for each individual’s interests.
In February 2010 John Holton and Sally Lilley bought Canterbury Trails Previously, John had a career in education in the UK and Argentina, while Sally was in Financial Services. In the year 2000 to celebrate the Millenium they took a year off to travel around the world on a belated Gap Year/OE! During their travels they fell in love with New Zealand, especially the South Island and decided to return on a permanent basis in 2003. The next six years were spent in hospitality, managing lodges and guiding before they felt it was time to run a business.
Following the original owner’s vision Canterbury Trails continues to take pride in attention to detail, the personal touch and first-class service from initial enquiry to farewell. Despite the reduction in visitors to Christchurch following the devastating earthquakes in 2010/2011, Canterbury Trails continues to develop. Most of that is due to more enquiries coming direct from the website. In the winter of 2011 Canterbury Trails revamped the website and also joined Facebook.
In September 2013 Irene Hayward and Chris Platt took over the reins of Canterbury Trails and continue as owner operators of this great little company.