Story: Rural tourism

Adopting a sheep, working on an organic farm, watching a farm dog mustering stock, walking a coastal track or going on a wine trail are just some of the many activities that visitors to rural New Zealand can enjoy. Tourism is often just a sideline income for farmers, but is important to the rural economy.

Story by Nancy Swarbrick
Main image: Farm show at the Agrodome

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Some overseas tourists and New Zealand holidaymakers visit rural areas for activities such as farm tours, horse trekking, and attractions like wineries, gardens and historic sites.


Some farms have accommodation for paying guests, who can experience what farm life is like. At organic farms in the WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) scheme, visitors can stay for free as long as they do some work for the farmer each day.

Farm shows

Many tourists enjoy seeing displays of farm work, such as shearing and dogs mustering sheep. The Agrodome in Rotorua is one place that runs farm shows.

Farm walks

Farm walks are popular with tourists. Walkers can stay in converted farm buildings on the way and sometimes have their bags carried for them.

Māori rural tourism

Rural tourism businesses owned or operated by Māori offer unique cultural experiences. They also provide jobs and training for young Māori, and promote Māori culture and language.

Sometimes running a tourist business can conflict with traditional Māori values such as giving hospitality for free.

Rural tourism organisations

Some local tourism organisations help people with rural tourism businesses promote and develop their services. Regional councils are also involved in helping develop rural tourism.

How to cite this page:

Nancy Swarbrick, 'Rural tourism', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 24 April 2024)

Story by Nancy Swarbrick, published 24 November 2008