Tour Guide Kaiārahi Rōpū Haere

Tour guides escort people on sightseeing, educational or other tours, and describe points of interest.

Tour guides may do some or all of the following:

  • escort people on trips or tours, including tours into natural areas
  • describe and explain points of interest on the trip or tour
  • arrange entry to places such as museums, government buildings and exhibitions
  • answer questions and give out written information
  • arrange or prepare meals and accommodation
  • drive a vehicle such as a bus or coach
  • act as an interpreter
  • market their business (if it is a privately owned tour company).

Physical Requirements

Tour guides need to be reasonably fit as they may do a lot of walking or physical activities. They may also need to lift heavy luggage onto buses or coaches.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for tour guides includes:

  • work in the tourism and hospitality industries
  • experience as a volunteer host at museums or other attractions
  • work involving contact with the public and people from other cultures
  • public speaking
  • travel experience.

Personal Qualities

Tour guides need to be:

  • good communicators
  • friendly, outgoing and able to put people at ease
  • polite, patient and professional
  • helpful and perceptive to visitors' needs
  • able to relate to people from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds
  • good at planning, organisation and time management.


Tour guides need to have:

  • knowledge of the area they cover and its features or attractions
  • knowledge of New Zealand culture, history, society, geography, flora and fauna
  • knowledge of other cultures
  • good driving skills
  • leadership and public speaking skills.


Tour guides:

  • may work a 40-hour week, do shift work including evenings and weekends, work part time, or work only during the peak season
  • may work outside in all weather conditions, or inside a museum or other attraction
  • may travel for their job, locally or nationally.

Tour Guides can earn around $47K-$60K per year.

Pay for tour guides varies depending on how many hours they work.

  • Tour guides usually earn up to $60,000 a year.
  • Tour guides are usually self-employed and work on short-term contracts.
  • Many tour guides do not work all of the year.

Source: Trade Me Jobs, 'July-December 2015 Salary Guide', 2015.

Tour guides can progress to work as:

  • consultants to tourism businesses
  • managers, marketers or owners of tourism businesses
  • tour package co-ordinators.

Years Of Training

There are no specific requirements to become a tour guide, as skills are gained while working. However, tour guides can complete on-the-job qualifications such as the New Zealand Certificate in Tour Guiding.

Tour guides who drive passengers need special licences

Tour guides who drive passenger vehicles need to have:

  • a full Class 1, 2 or 4 driver licence (depending on the size of the vehicle). Class 2 and 4 are heavy vehicle licences
  • a 'P' (passenger) endorsement on their licence, which shows they can carry passengers. Drivers need to have their full licence for at least two years before they can get the P endorsement.

You may need to apply for a visa through Immigration New Zealand

If you are not a New Zealand citizen or resident, you may need to apply for a specific purpose work visa before you arrive in New Zealand to work as a tour guide.

If you are a tour guide who is a Chinese national, you may be able to apply under the China Special Work Category. You can apply from within New Zealand if you hold a valid work or student visa.

Tour Guide