New Zealand Time: 23/11/2014 10:02:55 a.m.     Email:     Cell: 0064-21-890611            Aroha Tours - Luxury  New Zealand Tours & Travel
Aroha Tours
Aroha Tours
Aroha Tours

Meet our Travel guides!

We only work with the most passionate and knowledgeable tour guides and partners in the industry. Our driver/guides hold all the recommended licenses like Passenger endorsement, Pro Guides memberships and First Aid certificates, as well as have a permit to operate guiding activities on Public Conservation Land. They will do everything possibly to make your special journey in New Zealand as relaxed and memorable as possible. Our outdoors specialists have all significant knowledge in their fields and we do not hesitate to recommend there services as they have been valued partners over the last few years.

Veronika Vermeulen - Owner of Aroha NZ Tours - German speaking


Aroha Luxury New Zealand Tours is owned and operated by Veronika Vermeulen, the person whith whom you might expect to greet you upon arrival in this country. Either in the company of Veronika or one of her hand-selected guides you can be personaly feel insured you are in the best hands this country has to offer. This European born "Kiwi" has earned her tour buisness an exoectional reputation as leader in NZ's tourism trade..,both here and abroad. She says she found an inner raport with New Zealand’ s abundant water, flora, fauna, and last but not least-- its people. Especially the native Maori and the richness of their culture. “The traditions of the Maori 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 is 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 unique encounter, by world standards. Veronika got recent married to a dairy farmer and lives on a 600ha farm with 1200 milking cows. No need to say more…
read our guest testimonials!

OUR personal GUIDES

Jurgen Wagner - German-French-Spanish-Hebraic speaking (Horticulturist)

Born in Trier, Germanys oldest city, Jurgen has to have a passion for history. Whether of roman or gypsy heritage – 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 back stage pass to this beautiful country with all possible comfort to make your holiday unforgettable.” Jurgen lives in Christchurch when not on the road. Jurgen is currently studying horticulture and works also 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.

Stephen Popperwell (Musician NZ Orchestra, Luxury B&B owner)
Wanaka/Central Otago

Stephen had a long career as a musician in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. But the lure of the beautiful mountains of the South Island were such that a few years ago he moved with his wife to live in Wanaka. Since then he has driven and guided for a number of companies. He is passionate about the area and has great knowledge and stories to share of, in particular, Central Otago and the West Coast. He is committed to helping others to enjoy the region and loves the company of visitors from other countries. He has travelled overseas many times and driven throughout Europe on countless occasions. “I can’t think of a better way to spend a day than with good company and beautiful New Zealand passing by!

Stephen Hols

Chris Popperwell (Helicopter Pilot)
Wanaka/Central Otago

Chris has always excelled in high level customer service and has a genuinely love of meeting people and enjoys sharing the human experience and lesson learned from the world culture. At the age of 17 he qualified (and later became a trainer for) Kiwihost service school. He then spent 18 months as an exchange student in Sweden. He worked for P&O Cruises UK for 10 years cruising the world in the entertainments department. Upon returning to New Zealand in the mid 2000's he worked in the NZ film industry for a few years and then joined Pacific Blue Airline as a Cabin Manager. Since then he gained a commercial pilot licence (helicopter) and will soon to gain his fixed wing licence as well. He also holds the Pre Hospital Emergency Care qualification in First Aid, which it's one step below BLS(Ambulance Officer). “Spending a large section of my life overseas has only cemented my love and passion for my homeland and travelling from Cape Reinga to Bluff as a child with my parents has given me a real feel for Aoteroa”.

Bruce Maunsell (Area scout for LOTR, restaurateur)
Te Kuiti/Waikato
Bruce Maunsell is a New Zealander who lives on top of a remote hill overlooking the King Country in the central North Island, with his wife and two sons. His ancestors include Maori from the northern most parts of New Zealand, and an Irish missionary who translated the bible into Maori. Bruce has lived and traveled throughout his own country as well as around the world. His background includes time as a charter yacht skipper, sea kayak guide, futures trader with an investment bank, director of a forestry investment company and restaurateur. He has a fondness for fly fishing, cycling and exploring remote places, as well as fine food and wine. His love for New Zealand encompasses its history, ecology, and culture, He takes real pleasure in providing his guests with special experiences and excellent service, so working with Aroha Tours is an ideal opportunity to share these passions  

Raymond Bruce Hopkins (Actor, Radio host)

Bruce Hopkins is regarded as one of New Zealands most versatile film, television, radio and stage performers. A highlight of his acting career was playing the featured role of 'Gamling', King Theodens general, in 2 of Peter Jacksons trilogy of films, The Lord Of The Rings. In Nov 2010 Bruce won the Best Nationwide Master of Ceremonies Award at the Corporate Events Guide Peoples Choice Awards. Claiming to be a South Pacific Islander, by virtue of having been born a 4th generation Stewart Islander ( Stewart island is one of NZs hidden gems, situated off the southern coast of NZs South Island ), Bruce has a love of the ocean, taking part in ocean swimming events, surfing, snorkelling and fishing. Born at the southern end of NZ Bruce went on to become a commercial crayfisherman, fishing off Cape Reinga, the northern most tip of NZ with his father Bill Hopkins who was a pioneer in the fishing industry. At the age of 22yrs Bruce discovered the world of the performing arts and went on to have an 8yr career as a professional dancer in NZ and Australia. During this time he travelled extensively touring shows throughout NZ and through this time fell in love with the stunning beauty and diversity of landscapes and coastal areas NZ has to offer. Not only does Bruce love travelling throughout NZ himself, he also has a passion for sharing that experience with others. His wealth of experiences means that Bruce has a wonderful array of contacts in various industries throughout NZ.Having also been a coffee roaster, Bruce plays very average guitar, loves listening to music, watching documentaries and sharing ideas with people from all walks of life. Probably the greatest joy in Bruce's life are his 3 adult children and grandson.

"I first encountered Bruce Hopkins at The Edge in Auckland, when I was touring with the Royal Shakespeare Company in King Lear and The Seagull. Of course Ian McKellen had encountered Bruce when they worked together on The Lord of the Rings. We met for the first time at the first night reception for King Lear, and Bruce immediately struck me as a wonderfully engaging personality, full of warmth and intelligence. During our time in Auckland, Bruce opened up the city to us, to its diversity and some fascinating hidden corners. All of us found the city to be refreshing and lively, but it was Bruce who lit the spark. As well as being a first-rate actor, he is also a first-rate person whose wit and enthusiasm would be an enormous asset to any exciting and forward-looking organization. He is, as they say, a 'one-off'." Jonathan Hyde

Raymond Bruce Hopkins

Dimitry Belevich - Russian speaking  (Director Kiwi Zone)

Dmitry’s passion for adventure stems from early student years, when he was travelling to remote parts of Russia. Once coming to New Zealand, he realised that that is the country where he wants to live, and never left since then.

Fulfilling his passion for discoveries, he is always seeking for a new perspective to discover New Zealand: climbing, hiking, going down to the caves, diving, flying and sailing are one his favourite ways to see pristine nature. However he never misses the chance to stop and enjoy the moment through more laidback leisure types: horse riding, wine tasting, swimming in mineral pools, hunting and fishing. Dmitry loves it all, and happy to be your guide and show you the country from any perspective.


Mark Orbell - Owner/Ridgeline adventures/Wanaka


Mark is a 6th generation New Zealander, he's has been leading adventure tours around the South Island of NZ for close to 20 years. These days you'll find him in the hills behind picturesque Lake Wanaka running his own nature safari company - Ridgeline Adventures. Mark's passion is getting people off the beaten track and back to nature, exploring places only his company can take you. He's also an accomplished landscape photographer which goes hand in hand with the incredible environment he works in. " If you're passing through Wanaka, please stop. You've just got to come and see this place, the scenery, history and heritage combined with a fun 4WD adventure through a real New Zealand farm. Pure New Zealand does not get better than this. You will be touched by the magic ! "

Jonathan Larrivee - Chief Pilot/Fiordland helicopters/Te Anau

Jonathan has been flying helicopters for 20 years, accumulating over 10,000 hours of flight time – 7000 of which are in MD 500 series helicopters. Over half of his experience has been in wild animal capture and recovery, the remainder supporting commercial fishing boats, mineral exploration, seismic and survey operations. He spent a number of years flying overseas, mainly in Alaska. In his 6th year as chief pilot of Fiordland Helicopters, he thinks a better job would be hard to find!

Tom Loughlin - Maori specialist/Lake Taupo/

Ko Tauhara te maunga, Ko Waikato te awa, Ko Taupo te moana, Ko Ngati Tuwharetoa te iwi, Ko Ruingarangi te hapu, Ko Te Rangiita te whare tupuna, Noreira tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa. Now you know where Tom comes from. You will also be delighted to know that Tom has travelled extensively for over twenty years, honing his skills as a qaulified chef, throughout the Pacific, Europe, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Tom has grown up in the outdoors and has come from a long line of Ngati Tuwharetoa, who have lived the life of harvesting and cooking food. Te ngahere, The Bush. This is where you will find Tom as your host, your guide and your friend. His The Kai Waho Experience is the only Maori Cultural Activity, that provides a detailed insight, into Maori Kai (Food) and the outdoors where the Kai is Harvested, Preserved/cooked, and stored. Tikanga (Sacred rules) Karakia, (Prayer), Kaitiakitanga, (Guardian ship of guests), Manakitanga, (Being the humble host). These are all what makes up the Kai Waho Experience. He mihi nui,

Chad Thompson – Professional sailor/Auckland

Chad’s whole life has been spent sailing. The first half was spent recreationally sailing, including racing and cruising, on the northeastern coast of New Zealand; as well as a few offshore passages. Chad left the corporate world in 1996 to take up sailing professionally. First of all running the families classic 43’ (13m) sailing yacht in charter and then since 2003 he has been running the 46’ (14m) classic motor yacht, the Lady Gay. He is also an RYA sailing instructor. His knowledge of the Hauraki Gulf is extensive and coupled with the human history of the region and his appreciation of the gulf’s natural history he can give you an unsurpassed experience out on the Auckland Harbour, the sheltered waters of Hauraki Gulf and further afield.

Phil Robinson - Senior pilot/Air Safaris/Tekapo

Phil was born and brought up in the UK 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!” . All Air Safaris pilots live and work either in Lake Tekapo in the rugged Mackenzie basin or in Franz Josef on the West Coast. A shared passion for aviation and for the outdoors keeps the team enthusiastic and keen to pass this on to all their passengers.

Brent Pirie - Fly fishing guide/Lake Taupo

Often Brent (Fly Fish Taupo) finds himself apologising to clients that his office furniture is somewhat minimalist but the view out of his window is just spectacular. He can’t really say that guiding is work; it’s a passion that he loves to share with others. That’s how he feels about guiding. It’s not the catching it’s the environment and everything that makes our country so fantastic. Over the years he has had the chance to take clients to rivers that simply blow their minds with the natural beauty that only the wilderness of New Zealand has to offer. He prides himself on working hard for his clients, be it their first time or for the experienced angler who wants to land that big fish, it’s just giving them the best possible experience.

Brent Pirie - Exclusive New Zealand vacations & holidays
Phill Barclay - Owner-Floatplane pilot/Volcanic air/Rotorua

Phill’s role is to oversee the day-to-day operations of Volcanic Air Safaris. 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.


Phill Barclay - Exclusive New Zealand vacations & holidays
Harald Bettin - Owner-Hunting guide/Adventure Services/Palmerson North

Harald Bettin, Managing Director from Land of Dreams is our specialist when it comes to fishing and hunting throughout New Zealand. To our clients his passion makes the difference. Always around to explore new waters and stalk illusive trophy animals he is our No. 1 partner for wilderness hunting and fishing adventures. With our specialised partners throughout the travel industry Aroha Tours caters for all needs and expectations of our valuable clients.

Harald Bettin - Exclusive New Zealand vacations & holidays
Aroha Tours

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Our Team

We only work with the most passionate and knowledgeable tour guides and partners in the industry.

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