Guiding tours in Queenstown
These information pages can help you get started in learning about some of the laws and registration requirements that may apply to your Trips or Experiences on Airbnb. These pages include summaries of some of the rules that may apply to different sorts of activities, and contain links to government resources that you may find helpful.
Please understand that these information pages are not comprehensive, and are not legal advice. If you are unsure about how local laws or this information may apply to you or your Experience, we encourage you to check with your city or an attorney.
Please note that we don’t update this information in real time, so you should confirm that the law has not changed recently.*
I plan to offer guided tours - do I need any licences for that?
Generally speaking, you do not need to have a special licence to provide guided visits of public areas in Queenstown. However, you may need permission to provide guided tours of private buildings, certain public buildings or attractions which are open to the public and to provide boat trips.
There is also a new Bylaw in Queenstown relating to Activities in Public Places which requires a licence to operate organised licensed premise tours – which are tours of two or more premises licensed under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, involving a group of persons that is marketed or advertised to the public or a section of the public in any form. More information and the application form can be found on the Queenstown Lakes District Council website.
To the extent you propose to enter private property as part of the Trip or Experience you should obtain the consent of the property owner to avoid issues of trespass.
If you are providing transport services then consider whether this will require a passenger service licence as further described in our information section on Transport.
If my experience involves national parks, reserves or conservation areas, do I need to watch out for anything else?
The National Parks Act 1980, the Reserves Act 1977 and the Conservation Act 1987 detail certain offences in areas that are designated national parks, reserves or conservation areas. These cover matters such as dog control, fire control, wilful damage, interfering with native animals, and the removal or introduction of certain plants, items or substances.
Generally people may freely enter places declared a conservation area, a historic reserve, or a scenic reserve (subject to specific site restrictions). However, a permit may be required to enter certain nature reserves, and access to a scientific reserve may be restricted from time to time. Additionally, to interact with or handle wildlife and marine mammals, or use public conservation land other than for personal recreation, you need authorisation from the Department of Conservation. More information on applying for permits can be found here.
My experience involves boating, what should I consider?
To the extent that the Trip or Experience includes boating there are a number of requirements that may apply depending on the nature of the boat.
Maritime rules must be complied with and licensing may be required for the vessel and/or the operator of the vessel. For example all users of marine VHF are required to hold a minimum of a marine VHF operator’s qualification and be issued with a radio call sign. Information on pilot’s licensing can be found here, and in relation to commercial jet boat rules and driver licencing can be found here.
The type of registration required for a vessel depends on several factors, including:
- if the ship will be used commercially or for pleasure (note that if a craft is offered for hire or reward that it will not be a pleasure craft);
- the length of the ship;
- if the ship is New Zealand or foreign owned; and
- if the ship will go overseas.
The qualifications required for a skipper of a vessel may include certain educational components and will also depend on the nature of the ship that the skipper is operating.
The Maritime Transport Act 1994 requires people in charge of a water vessel to take responsibility for the health and safety of all people on board and safe operation of their vessel. Matters such as boat safety, operation procedures and equipment requirements are particular to the type of vessel, activity and waterway, and are covered by comprehensive rules imposed by Maritime New Zealand and local bylaws. These rules are enforced by regional councils.
Queenstown Lakes District Council Bylaws require people to obtain permits to carry out certain activities on local waters, i.e. to operate a craft within the Shotover River Concession Area, to use a ramp or launch facility, to moor in any navigable waters, or to establish any ‘maritime structure’. There may also be waterway and ramp fees.
You’ll also need to comply with health and safety legislation. Further guidance can be found below.
My experience involves fishing, what should I consider?
Fish Game NZ sets regulations for fishing throughout New Zealand (except Taupo, where fishing is administered by the Department of Conservation). These regulations are amended each year to suit changing sporting and environmental conditions. Each region has its own set of regulations which are enforced alongside the broader national regulations.
The Fisheries Act 1996 regulates fishing activity in New Zealand and imposes restrictions as to size, number and species of fish and shellfish that may be taken by any person. If you are offering the experience of fishing rather than catching fish for the purpose of sale, then no permit is required under the Fisheries Act 1996. However fishing licences may be required depending on the location of the fishing ground, particularly in freshwater lakes and rivers. Such licences are generally obtained by each person participating and are daily, monthly or annual depending on the location. Generally you would need a licence (this can be purchased from Fish Game NZ) to go freshwater fishing in a particular region (the three lakes in Queenstown would be covered under the Otago region). You can refer here for more information on fishing licenses.
Please also see Angler’s Notice for Fish and Game Regions for rules and regulations relating to Freshwater fishing.
You’ll also need to comply with health and safety legislation. Further guidance can be found below.
My experience involves camping, what should I consider?
Queenstown Lakes District Council Bylaws have certain prohibitions on freedom camping. Freedom camping is camping (other than at a camping ground) within 200m of a motor vehicle accessible area or the mean low-water springs line of any sea or harbour, or on or within 200m of a formed road or a Great Walks Track, using one or more of the following:
- a tent or other temporary structure;
- a caravan;
- a car, campervan, housetruck, or other motor vehicle.
In some cases a permit may be required to light an outdoor fire depending on a number of factors such as the location (whether urban, rural, private or public), presiding council, season, fire size, use, and the existence of any total fire bans in place. Permits can generally be obtained at little to no cost and can generally be issued within seven working days. Please note that there are extensive total fire ban ‘Red Zones’ in the Queenstown Lakes District.
Am I responsible for Health and Safety?
In providing your trip or experience you will likely be considered a person conducting a business or undertaking (‘PCBU’) under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. This means you must ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of your Guests is not put at risk. This may include providing information and training to protect Guests from risks to their health and safety that may arise in the course of the Trip or Experience and doing what you can to minimise or eliminate dangers. You can get more information from Worksafe.
My experience involves adventure activities, what should I consider?
In addition to complying with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 as a PCBU, you will have to comply with the Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016.
The Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016 regulate adventure activity operators who guide, teach or assist participants to participate in the activity. An ‘adventure activity’ is a land or water based activity which deliberately exposes a participant to serious risk to their health and safety that must be managed by the provider of the activity in which either:
- failure of the provider’s management system is likely to result in a serious risk to the participant’s health or safety; or
- the participant is deliberately exposed to dangerous terrain or dangerous waters.
The regulations provide examples of adventure activities here, which includes but is not limited to outdoor abseiling, bungy jumping, canoeing, caving, glacier walking, kayaking, mountaineering, off-road vehicle driving, skiing and snowboarding. You can get more information from Worksafe.
All adventure activity operators are required to pass safety audits and be issued with a safety audit certificate. It is an offence to provide or offer to provide an ‘adventure activity’ unless registered to provide it. Registration costs $100 for annual registration. Failure to register may result in financial penalties.
Are there restrictions if my Experience or Trip involves a cultural activity?
You are encouraged to be aware of cultural sensitivities when providing cultural activities, especially in relation to the Maori culture.
In addition, please note that the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority ("NZASA") Code of Advertising may be relevant depending on the circumstances. For instance, the NZASA Advertising Code of Ethics rule 5 states that advertising should not contain anything which in the light of generally prevailing community standards is likely to cause serious or widespread offence taking into account the context, medium, audience and product (including services).
*Airbnb is not responsible for the reliability or correctness of the information contained in any links to third party sites (including any links to legislation and regulations).