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Our Story

Family holidays exploring New Zealand’s wild places inspired siblings John and Mary to enable others to create their own remarkable moments. Their childhood experiences and their shared values and aspirations formed the foundations of this Kiwi family business. That’s why family is at the centre of all that we are.


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Wilderness was founded in 2004 by young Kiwi adventurer John Managh. After several years living and working overseas, he returned to New Zealand to start his own business. Business ownership was in his blood. John’s father and grandfather were pioneers in the timber industry but John’s passion is for tourism. 

A year after Wilderness was founded, John’s sister Mary joined the business and they worked on growing the small family business together. Shared values and experiences had a big influence on how Wilderness evolved. Their father, Keith Managh, taught them that business should be a force for good - growing the economy, providing good jobs and making the world a better place.

Growing up, their family holidays centred around exploring new places in their native New Zealand. Their parents loved taking them on the roads less travelled, looking for new places to explore and adventures to be had. It was their childhood memories of exploring New Zealand’s wild places that inspired them to share the same feeling of adventure and discovery to other travellers.

John and Mary have set themselves high standards. Their promise is to deliver their guests the  holiday of their dreams. That’s why our company culture is centred around being the best we can be in every way every day. 

In a family business, the relationship between the family members is key. John and Mary have developed an open and honest relationship based on trust and good communication. That sets the foundation for how they interact with their team and how their team interacts with the guests. 

Their spouses Pip and Eric do more than support John and Mary in the business. Both have their own important roles contributing their shared values as well as their skills and talents. 

Being part of a company whose mission is to deliver dreams is a powerful motivator for the Wilderness family. It’s our guests who inspire us to keep evolving and innovating. Whether it’s enabling Kiwis to experience the wonders of their own backyard or showing off New Zealand’s unique and wild places to international travellers, it’s all about sharing remarkable moments with those we love - just like John and Mary did in their childhood.