Expanding tour company makes Champion Canterbury Awards finals

26 August 2013

Unique Canterbury touring company, Hassle-free Tours has been recognised as a Tourism/Hospitality Finalist in the 2013 Champion Canterbury Business Awards.

The husband and wife team behind Hassle-Free Tours, Mark and Nikki Gilbert started their company a decade ago by offering tours of Canterbury's famed high country. Their Alpine Safari and Lord of the Rings tours proved a huge hit with visitors and gave the Gilberts the confidence to branch out.

Hassle-free Tours now runs daily tours showcasing the Canterbury High Country in unique custom-built 4WD and 6WD vehicles. They expanded the business post-earthquake, adding Christchurch City Tours on fully refurbished London Routemaster double decker buses.

Their Lord of the Rings Tour visits Mt Sunday the home of the Edoras and a favourite location of cast and crew. One tour guide is a two-time Oscar winner and shares his experiences with guests.

Mark Gilbert last year won the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Young Tourism Entrepreneur Award, in recognition of the leadership and entrepreneurial flair he has demonstrated since starting Hassle-free Tours in 2003 when he was just 23.

"Visitor numbers in Christchurch are picking up and we’re really excited about the future of the city. We're constantly thinking about new, innovative ways of introducing our region to visitors. Christchurch has a very interesting story to tell and we're committed to being part of the story-telling," Mr Gilbert says.

With three 1960s classic London Routemaster double decker buses, they are able to run a one-hour open top double decker City Tour and a three hour Discover Christchurch Tour, as well as special charter trips.

The open top double decker City Tour is the only one operating in New Zealand and has proved hugely popular with visitors who love the character and the unobstructed views they get from the top deck.

During the summer cruise season Hassle-free also operates tours from Akaroa for cruise ship guests, taking them into the high country and around the Peninsula.

This year the Gilberts set up a new touring club for locals, Explore Club making use of their wide fleet of vehicles and guides to take club members and special interest groups from Christchurch to visit the high country and beyond.

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