Marlborough Tour Company
A locally owned business based on authentic New Zealand hospitality, Marlborough Tour Company has operated since 1993.
From its earliest days offering Marlborough seafood and wine tours, the company, established and owned by Marlborough couple Chris and Sue Godsiff (who have recently retired), grew to operate a fleet of buses, vans, luxury cars and cruise boats.
Early in 2018, Marlborough Tour Company underwent an exciting growth phase, with half the company being purchased by a company principally owned by Barbara, Cathy, Trevor and Dennis Burkhart along with a holding by Nikki and Tony de Reeper.
The new owners aim to bring more of Marlborough to the international and domestic tourism markets, all year round.
This expansion allowed Marlborough Tour Company to offer new and unique opportunities to provide end-to-end packages to further promote Marlborough as an iconic tourist destination, year-round, and to make the most of this wonderful and diverse region. This has been made possible through the acquisition of Furneaux Lodge and Punga Cove in the Marlborough Sounds, Cougar Line water transportation and cruises in Picton, and Pelorus Mail Boat in Havelock.
Our diverse range of visitor offerings now include a wide selection of premium vineyard and Marlborough Sounds tours, luxury cruising, water transportation, and unique Marlborough Sounds accommodation.
Former Marlborough Tour Company owners Chris and Sue Godsiff were both born and bred in Marlborough, as were their parents and grandparents before that.
This long line of family connection to the region and a total commitment to quality service defines us as Marlborough’s premium tour company.
Local family connections continue through the current owners, Marlborough brothers Trevor and Dennis Burkhart, who are well-known as active members of the community and seafood industry, and have a vision to bring more of Marlborough to the international and domestic tourism markets, all year round.
Marlborough Tour Company expands
In 2018, Marlborough Tour Company added to its existing tours and cruises by acquiring two well-known Marlborough Sounds lodges, Furneaux Lodge and Punga Cove resort, which are both located on the world-famous Queen Charlotte Track.
This was followed by the purchase of Cougar Line, Picton’s long-time water transportation company that has had the important job of bringing people and delivering freight to all corners of Queen Charlotte Sound/Tōtaranui for nearly three decades.
Marlborough Tour Company’s expansion has led to a unique and varied selection of wine, scenic and seafood tours, accommodation and water transport options that are designed to make the most of all Marlborough has to offer to its growing visitor market.
Marlborough Tour Company sees the purchase as opening up new and exciting opportunities to provide end-to-end packages to further promote Marlborough as an iconic tourist destination.
Our purchase of Cougar Line demonstrates Marlborough Tour Company’s confidence in tourism growth in New Zealand and in Marlborough. Our tours, the lodges and now Cougar Line are all an integral part of the overall, wonderful, Marlborough experience that we are incredibly proud to market to the world.
Chris & Sue retire
In November 2019 Chris and Sue Godsiff retired and sold their shareholding to the other business owners.
This signaled the emergence of the new MTC Group. The group brings together under a single umbrella, the ownership and management of the existing businesses of:
- Marlborough Tour Company
- Furneaux Lodge
- Punga Cove
- Cougar Line
- Pelorus Mail Boat
The public face of each business continues unchanged, as does the staff.
The Group’s goal is to deliver a “seamless and unique customer experience” for visitors to the Marlborough region – whether here primarily as guests of MTC Group or other operators. They aspire for visitors to experience the region as guests from their warm welcome to a fond farewell.
From the outset, the Group has a picture of building collaboration across the Marlborough tourism sector.
Welcome to Abbe
Abbe Hutchins started December 2019 as Chief Executive. Board Chair Barbara Burkhart says Ms Hutchins has the skills and experience needed to lead Marlborough Tour Company forward in a new era for the company. “The board is looking forward to working closely with Abbe to implement our strategic plans. It is an exciting chapter for the company amid a positive outlook for Marlborough. Abbe brings the dynamic leadership required.”
Ms Hutchins has a family background in tourism and she says she recognises similar values in Marlborough Tour Company. She says, “it has a number of great offerings, underpinned by the hard work of staff. They clearly want to showcase the best of what the region has to offer while strongly caring for the community and the natural environment.”
Marlborough Tour Company was presented with Qualmark’s Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award in 2019 for its tours and cruises, which put us among the top tourism experiences in New Zealand.
This achievement highlights our commitment to protecting our beautiful natural environment, enhancing connections with our local communities and delivering quality, safe experiences for all our visitors.
Marlborough Tour Company began life as Wilderness Express in 1993, operated by pioneer Greenshell mussel farmers Chris and Sue Godsiff, from Havelock.
The idea came from the interest people showed in the mussels that the Godsiffs would unload in Havelock marina. But, when people asked to visit the farms and were told they would be welcome to join Chris at 5am to get the boat from Havelock, they normally declined.
But, a tourism idea was born. Soon the Godsiffs had a small cruise out of Havelock and a van to pick people up from hotels in Blenheim. Today,that’s grown to a fleet of cruise vessels, coaches, tour vans and sedans.
The Godsiffs opened the Marlborough Travel Centre in Havelock which operated as an information centre and booking agency. They ran a small cruise from Havelock, and bought a van to transport people from hotels in Blenheim.
From there they branched out too a range of tours and cruises under the Wilderness Express umbrella which became Marlborough Travel in 2001.
In 2014, the name was changed to Marlborough Tour Company.
That’s a lot of change in nearly 30 years, but what hasn’t changed is the genuine, authentic Kiwi hospitality that the Godsiffs offered then, and continue to offer now on each and every Marlborough Tour Company experience.
We now work with a range of trade partners around the world who help us tell and sell the Marlborough Tour Company story.
Louise Frend and her team represent MTC to the travel trade and knock on the doors of Inbound and wholesale agencies internationally to ensure visitors to New Zealand get to experience Marlborough Tour Company and Tarquin luxury cruises.