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Meet Your Team!

Meet Your Team!

Aroha New Zealand tours Ltd operating since 26th of October 2000. (HN 1096350)

Our Motto: Travel is better when it is customized. It's more personal, more rewarding and more fun!

Providing knowledge, personality and experience when travelling with a local guide, Aroha NZ Luxury Tour guides are highly trained passionate Kiwis, hand-picked for much more than their ability to drive. They are well-versed in the culture, flora, fauna and the history of New Zealand.

Our guides are trained in first aid and hold Passenger Endorsement licences. They are also having a permit to operate guiding activities on Public Conservation Land.

All guides are a member of Pro-guides Association and have a permanent resident or citizen of New Zealand. They currently work full or part-time as a Guide for Aroha NZ Tours and have work experience in New Zealand of no less than TWO seasons of guiding. 

Above all, they’ll make sure everything is running smoothly behind the scenes to ensure you can relax and enjoy your trip and experience the real local culture. 

We are joined by an exceptional team of local field guides and experts. Our outdoors specialists all have significant knowledge in their fields and we do not hesitate to recommend their services as they have been valued partners.

Director - Owner

VERONIKA VERMEULEN
VERONIKA VERMEULEN
German & English Speaking
South Waikato/North Island
Aroha Luxury New Zealand Tours is owned and operated by Veronika Vermeulen, the person you can expect to greet you upon arrival in this country. Whether in the company of Veronika or one of her hand-selected guides you will feel personally assured you are in the best hands this country has to offer. This European born "Kiwi" has earned her tour business an exceptional reputation as a leader in NZ's tourism trade, both here and abroad. She says she found an inner rapport with New Zealand’s abundant water, flora, fauna, and last, but not least, its people - especially the native Māori and the richness of their culture. "The traditions of the Māori are intensely intriguing, their lifestyle, their relationship with nature and family orientation all appeal to me", Veronika reflects, finally adding…"Here, I can truly be myself." Her love and passion for elite travel in New Zealand are infectious. “I listen to my clients’ requests carefully to develop an understanding of their wishes. And, in the end, they trust me to design their personal holiday", she says with a smile. “The beauty of New Zealand”, she says, “is that we still have generous access to its natural abundance and unique experiences. It is the most extraordinary playground on earth!” And, for Veronika, this is perfect travelling. She says to see nature from all perspectives - whether by aircraft, boat, car or walking - allows her guests a truly unique encounter. Veronika recently married a dairy farmer and lives on a 600ha farm with 1200 milking cows.

Office Support - Administration

SARAH WILSHER
SARAH WILSHER
Team Admin
Wanaka/South Island
Originally from the UK, I moved to New Zealand after seeing the stunning scenery in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I came for a 3 week holiday and then ended up making the move permanently 6 months later. I have now called this beautiful country home for over 10 years. I have a degree in Business and Tourism and a background in administration and project management, working in both the public and private sectors. I have travelled extensively around NZ and now called Wanaka home where I live with my partner and 2 young children.
Mariana Wagner
Mariana Wagner
Co-ordinator
Christchurch/South Island
Mariana was born on a desert farm in Namibia so she never complains about the rain. "I love the beautiful pure nature and most of all the rain in New Zealand as I know how precious water is." By running her own business in Namibia for more than 15 years she has all the experience to support the team behind the scenes - organising all the logistics and giving support to Veronika. "It puts a smile on my face knowing I am contributing to visitors enjoying their holiday.”

Our Personal Guides

JURGEN WAGNER
JURGEN WAGNER
German-French-Spanish speaking, International guide, Horticulturist
Christchurch/South Island
Born in Trier, Germany's oldest city, Jurgen has a passion for history. From early childhood, he enjoyed working with international visitors in his grandparents B&B on the famous Mosel River. He had his first job as a tour guide in Jerusalem, Israel, where he worked as a volunteer with the German Peace Corps. After guiding for twenty years in all continents, Jurgen gained an international diploma in tourism and worked as destination manager for leading German tour operators. "I fell in love with New Zealand on my first visit in 1989 - I have travelled and walked extensively exploring the awesome sights this country has to offer. My passion is to share all I have experienced by guiding small groups. Aroha Tours is a great company “to get off the beaten track” - we offer a backstage pass to this beautiful country with all possible comfort to make your holiday unforgettable." Jurgen lives in Christchurch when not on the road. He is currently studying horticulture and also works as a Nature Guide at the Botanical Gardens in Christchurch. Apart from English and German he is quite fluent in French and Spanish and has a basic knowledge of Hebrew.
STEVE POPPERWELL
STEVE POPPERWELL
English speaking, Classic Musician, Luxury B&B Owner
Wanaka/South Island
Steve had a long career as a musician in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, but some years ago, he moved to Wanaka in the beautiful mountains of the South Island. He has driven and guided for several companies, but now devotes his time to Aroha Luxury Tours, and travels all over the country throughout the year. Steve has travelled to many parts of the world and driven extensively all through Europe on countless occasions, but New Zealand is his passion, and he loves to show it to visitors and share his knowledge and stories. He says....." I can't think of a better way to spend a day than with good company, and watching beautiful New Zealand passing by!"
ANDREW MILLSON
ANDREW MILLSON
English speaking, Conservation advisor, Snow Sports Instructor
Wanaka/South Island
Andrew has worked all over the World in an advisory capacity, helping to develop and link sustainability between farming, forestry, shooting and conservation, primarily specialising in driven game. In the past 10 years, he has been able to run this alongside his other great love - skiing and guiding and spending more time in the mountains and snow than out. Andrew holds the highest qualifications in ski instruction from New Zealand and Austria with International recognition from the (ISIA) International Snowsports Instructor Alliance in ski & snowboard. Andrew has worked in many world-class resorts and has been involved with prestigious clients from all over the world, as an instructor and guide, helping private clients and families get more out of their skiing and time in the mountains. Andrew is a professional guide who will help you relax and get the most from your New Zealand Experience.
DAVE DUNCAN
DAVE DUNCAN
English speaker, International Guide, small business owner
Wellington/North Island
Heavily involved in film and television for about 10 years, Dave can even be spotted in all 3 Lord of the Rings movies playing a Gondorian Soldier, a Wild Man and a Urak-Hai. Dave worked on numerous projects of this nature until 2006 when he left NZ and discovered his love of travel. He wasn't to return to New Zealand for over 10 years having well over 50 countries across 6 continents. Dave is a traveller by nature and it is this love of travel and his passion for New Zealand that drives him to share this wonderful country with travellers and explorers from all around the world. As a guide, he is committed to helping others make the most of their adventure. He values good company, memorable moments and is dedicated to creating and finding unique experiences throughout the country.
KEMARA KENNEDY & TIARE TITO
KEMARA KENNEDY & TIARE TITO
Te Rua Māuri - Māori & English speaking, Wood Carver /Waihi Kõhanga Reo early childhood teacher
Rotorua- Taupo/North Island
Both Kemara and Tiare have been immersed in and around the Māori culture their entire lives. Both of Māori descent and have strong tribal affiliations predominantly around Te Puku o te Ika a Māui (central North Island). The Māori language has always been at the forefront of both their upbringing from Kohanga Reo (Early Childhood equivalent) through to Kura Kaupapa Māori (Total Immersion Language School) and this journey continues on with their 3 children. Kemara, is currently working at the Tongariro Correctional Facility, facilitating a Māori-based programme and when he is not at work he is in the shed wood carving. Tiare has a degree in Early Childhood and is currently teaching at Waihi Kõhanga Reo. Te Rua Māuri is a family-based initiative formed in 2016 to establish a forum for cultural understanding of Tikanga (Māori belief systems) by bridging past knowledge to present, to preserve and perpetuate its organic essence for the next generation. Te Rua Māuri has participated at various Indigenous festivals locally and internationally. Both Kemara and Tiare have travelled extensively as cultural ambassadors around the world. They enjoy an active life alongside their children and love the outdoors whether it be fishing and diving for kaimoana (seafood), hiking or snowboarding the various skifields of Ruapehu.
CRAIG WRIGHTSON
CRAIG WRIGHTSON
English speaking, Professional Chauffeur/Personal Tour Guide
Wellington/North Island
New Zealand-born Craig loves the great outdoors and all the natural beauty New Zealand has to offer. Having been a tour guide and professional chauffeur in the tourism industry for over seven years, he knows how to get the most out of your New Zealand visit. His friendly and relaxed manner makes him a great tour guide and being a local, he has an in-depth knowledge of New Zealand culture, history, society, geography, flora and fauna. He shares this in an engaging and entertaining way, making your experience an interactive and memorable one with a dash of Kiwi-style humour.
Katja May
Katja May
German & english speaking, Guide/Location Scout, Production Coordinator
Auckland/North Island
Katja enjoys sharing her passion for New Zealand with her guests. Originally from Germany, she believes this is one of the most beautiful countries on the planet. Her interests are the outdoors, the ocean, Māori culture and special interest tours. When not on the road Katja works as a translator for the tourism industry and as a location scout or production coordinator for international TV productions, her background. On her days off you’ll find Katja in the water, she’s an ocean-lover and avid SUP surfer, and she cares for the marine environment and responsible tourism in Aotearoa.
TIM DE JONG
TIM DE JONG
English Speaking, International Guide, Manager Adventure Tourism
Opotiki/North Island
Tim has been working in New Zealand tourism for over 25 years, including operating his own Mountain Bike Tour company, travelling the country as a tour guide with groups from all over the world and managing a leading New Zealand Adventure Tourism business. Originally from Christchurch he has a deep love and extensive knowledge of the magnificent South Island but has recently moved back to the small coastal village of Opotiki in the North Island, attracted by the warmer climate and being closer to his grandchildren. Tim is a traveller at heart and five years ago he gave up his main office – based tourism management role, to go back on the road as a tour guide. In his words: “I am a gypsy at heart and love travelling, what better way to do this than as a guide, introducing guests to my home! I learn so much from my travellers as they explore Aoetearoa (New Zealand) and love discovering my country through their eyes.”
DIANNE SHARMA-WINTER
DIANNE SHARMA-WINTER
English-Hindi-Maori Speaking, International guide, Specialist Indigenous Tourism
East Cape / North Island
Ko Mataatua te Waka, Ko Toroa te Tohunga Ko Putauki te Maunga Ko Ohinemataroa te Awa Ko Ngati Awa te Iwi Ko Ngati Hokopu raua ko Wharepaia te hapu Dianne is from the river tribe of Ngati Awa in the Eastern Bay of Plenty with links to various other Iwi or tribe in the North Island. She has lived and worked in India where she consulted with local operators on the village and experiential travel. She introduced the concept of experiential tourism in India where for many years where she worked promoting and advising on village-based kaupapa tourism. She has a background in social work and journalism, also a dive instructor was NZ's first female river guide and is qualifying to become a skipper. Her passion for travel is only matched by the passion for making heart connections with people, something that has kept her on the road and peering under magic carpets all over the world. She is particularly excited about the potential growth of Maori and Indigenous tourism in New Zealand.
MIKE GILBERT
MIKE GILBERT
English speaking, Motor bike guide, Executive Director Beatnik Motorsport Ltd.
Marlborough/South Island
Mike Gilbert – A Canadian by birth, married to a Kiwi and a global roamer at heart. Mike spent his youth on farm bikes and Motocross racing on the local circuit in Canada before getting a ‘real job’ and working for over 18 years in the oil and gas industry. During this time his ‘go anywhere, never say no’ attitude enabled him to travel the world and work his way from entry-level technical positions all the way up to a Sr. Executive. After years of setting up and operating business units in multiple countries around the globe, Mike decided to leverage his commercial savvy, project management expertise and return to his motorcycle roots by setting up Beatnik Motorsport in the heart of Marlborough. Beatnik provides trendy, high-end motorcycle rentals and tours for visiting Moto-Heads looking for an exciting and memorable way to explore New Zealand. Set up to cater to everything from a single day blast in the Marlborough sounds to extended adventures around the South Island, Beatnik brings a fresh new concept to the New Zealand Moto-Tour industry. Customer Service and Quality are of the highest importance to Mike and the Beatnik Team
LESTER CHAN
LESTER CHAN
English, Mandarin, Cantonese Speaking , Photographer | Lester Chan Photography
Auckland/North Island
Lester Chan is a Commercial and Landscape Photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand. He was born in Singapore and found his undeniable passion for Landscape Photography after visiting the country many years ago. His pursuit of landscape images has taken him around New Zealand several times over the course of many years chasing unforgettable scenes and moments. His love for untamed wild places is seen in the work he produces across all platforms. This passion has attracted a wide audience from all around the world. Lester will teach you his techniques and photography skills attained over his many years as a professional Landscape photographer, these include Composition techniques, shooting Manual, managing aperture, shutter speed, ISO and working with light in all different weather conditions.
Dennis Siu
Dennis Siu
English/Mandarin Speaking, ADS Accreditation with Tourism New Zealand
AUCKLAND/NORTH ISLAND
Dennis has been a private tour guide in New Zealand for many years, originally hailing from Hong Kong, with an engineering background and experience in the computer industry before migrating to our shores. Discovering a deep love of NZ's beautiful outdoors he became fascinated with our landscapes, and in addition to exploring he completed a university education in oenology and viticulture. He is a member of many aero, golf and yacht clubs but his passion is in New Zealand's wonderful food and wine. Dennis' passion for the authentic kiwi experience makes him the perfect guide for your New Zealand adventure.

Our Partners

Rod Brown
Rod Brown
Driver & Guide / Māori Tours
Taupō/North Island
Ko Tongariro te Maunga. Ko Taupō nui a Tia te Moana. Ko Tuwharetoa te Iwi. Ko te Heuheu te Tangata . Rod is Māori, has worked, played and grown up in the Central North Island of New Zealand [Te Puku o te Ika - the stomach of the fish]. Rod has guided and assisted thousands of people of all nationalities and capabilities in the outdoors, on the rivers and mountains of the North Island. [Te Ika a Maui] Rod’s background has been in the outdoors including assessing whitewater river guides and ski patrollers. He has worked as an outdoor first aid instructor, a stuntman on several offshore film productions, as well as in an acting role for the movie Vertical Limit.
Phil Robinson
Phil Robinson
Senior pilot/Air Safaris
Tekapo/South Island
Phil was born and brought up in the UK and moved to New Zealand almost 10 years ago, beginning his flying career in the hills and over the ocean at Kaikoura on the South Island’s East coast. A love of mountains since childhood steered him towards the scenic mountain flying that he now enjoys every day with Air Safaris, one of New Zealand’s original and largest scenic charter companies. Phil came to Air Safaris in 2006, and considers he has struck gold with a job that he loves, working with a great team in a place that he wants to live! "The constantly changing weather patterns, the beauty and excitement of the terrain and the mixed fleet of fantastic aircraft are key attractions of the job, and the fact that our passengers are having a great time makes for a very happy environment in the aircraft cabin! Sometimes I have to pinch myself to realise how good I have it!"
Chris Brennan
Chris Brennan
Fly fishing guide
Taupō/North Island
Chris Brennan was born and bred in the Taupō region of New Zealand's North Island. His knowledge of local fly fishing waters and hunting areas is unparalleled. Chris has been guiding full time since the age of 17 and has forged relationships with large property owners in the area and has access to vast tracts of private land for your enjoyment. It's our philosophy that people make the experience, with Chris you get someone with a genuinely recognised reputation as a fishing and hunting guru. You also get a young man with a genuine passion, humility and desire to provide the ultimate experience for his guests.
Phill Barclay
Phill Barclay
Owner-Floatplane pilot/Volcanic Air
Rotorua/North Island
Phill’s role is to oversee the day-to-day operations of Volcanic Air. This includes ensuring all Standards and Procedures are properly adhered to and integrated into the operations of the business. Phill has extensive floatplane experience, has an instructor rating and trains all floatplane pilots. He is a qualified Multi-Engined Instrument Rated pilot. He is also responsible for the upkeep and R & M of the aircraft. Of late Phill has taken a liking to Golf and can be found on his days off swinging a Club at one of the many local Golf Courses.
ROSS BARNES
ROSS BARNES
Ex. Dept. of Conservation, Cave guide
Waikato/North Island
Ross is an affable person who enjoys the interaction with people of all cultures. He is committed to ensuring guests experience an authentic taste of New Zealand. His rich knowledge of New Zealand has been garnered over 40 years Guiding. Ross was born and raised on a Sheep and Beef farm in the foothills of the Southern Alps. In 1970 He discovered his passion as he was employed as a guide at the Waitomo Caves. While guiding he also worked at the Waitomo hotel. He left the caves to help a friend develop and open the Roselands Farm show and Restaurant where he spent a number of years conducting a farm shows and guiding a horse-drawn cart ride to the restaurant. Ross then joined the Dept of Conservation where he was employed as a ranger. The Main focus of his Job was not only the protection of Native Flora and Fauna, but also the construction and design of walkways. 2 of his creations are rated in the top 10 short walks in New Zealand.
Air Milford
Air Milford
Sightseeing Excursions
Queenstown/North Island
Air Milford is a family owned and operated business based in Queenstown, specialising in personalised sightseeing excursions of Milford Sound. Air Milford purposefully remains a mid-sized New Zealand tourism business. This allows the company to stay committed and focused on offering its guests exclusive, niche sightseeing tours. The Air Milford team have an intimate knowledge of the scenic wonders of Fiordland, Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Mount Cook and the Queenstown region. The 'hands-on' tours take in magnificent fiords, New Zealand native forests and glaciers. Guests will be introduced to New Zealand's stunning native birds, seals, penguins and dolphins. Our modern aircraft are meticulously maintained and we are proud to have achieved one of the Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) highest audit ratings for operations and safety.
Chris Jolly Outdoors
Chris Jolly Outdoors
Private Boat Charters
Taupō/North Island
Chris Jolly Outdoors has been the main outdoor experience provider for the Great Lake Taupō region for over 35 years. Their fleet of four launches can cater from small to large groups, with activity options including fishing, clay bird shooting, paddle boarding and cruising. A luxury experience on the Lake delivered with exceptional service, fine wines and food prepared by their in-house professionals. Guided hiking, biking and fly fishing packages are also available.
Ridgeline Adventures
Ridgeline Adventures
4WD Nature Safaris
Wanaka/South Island
Authentic and educational alpine farm and photography adventures through the mountains of Wanaka's historic West Wanaka Station, a 30000 farm on the edge of Mt Aspiring National Park. We're all about exciting alpine 4WD backroads, sightings of free-ranging Red Deer, sheep and Angus Cattle, jaw-dropping scenery, leisurely nature walks and hands-on help with our conservation projects. All professionally delivered by our expert local New Zealand guides. A guaranteed highlight of your holiday.
Heli Tours
Heli Tours
Helicopter Charters
Queenstown/South Island
Heli Tours is locally-owned and operated by Paul and Katherine Mitchell, New Zealanders who grew up in the Queenstown and Canterbury regions. With a passion to showcase their extensive knowledge of the local geography and history, Heli Tours specialise in providing bespoke helicopter flights around Queenstown, Milford Sound, and the South Island. Heli Tours offer fresh new experiences with a personal touch to highlight the area’s alpine lakes, glaciers, untouched beaches, magnificent waterfalls and family farms.
Waiatoto River Safari
Waiatoto River Safari
Jet Boat Tours
Queenstown / Wanaka
Experience the history of Gondwana land, smell the rainforest as you walk softly through the dripping ferns with the sparkling clear light shimmering with the snowy peaks as your backdrop. Your experienced guide will lead you through the ancient river, still untouched as it was thousands of years ago when the Māori first roamed the land, the great Moa bird and Haast eagle still ruled the ancient forests. You will experience the magical, breathtaking beauty of the Te Wahipounamu, the Māori name for the South West New Zealand World Heritage area and take home memories that will have you yearning to return once more.