Our History

old photo of a coach driving through a mountain road
people posing on a boat
people posing under a sign with location and distances across the world

We are a 100% New Zealand family-owned and operated tour company; proudly offering innovative tailor-made itineraries for New Zealand and Australia, and providing quality ground arrangements for international wholesalers, agents and their clients.

Our business has seen many key stages of growth over the past 30+ years, some of which we have detailed here:

1987 Our founding business, Leisure Time Tours was formed in 1987 by Les & Barbara Mehrtens of Hamilton New Zealand. Les started offering day trips around the region, these quickly became very popular and demand soon prompted more frequent and extended trips, including overnight regional tours. From this concept, the Leisure Time Travel Club was born and still exists today with around 1000 happy members enjoying regular day trips and NZ-wide tours.

1991 Whilst on the tour circuit with the Travel Club Les was approached by an Australian operator who noticed something about Les’s passengers – they were really happy! The Australian operator asked Les to conduct his annual New Zealand tour and from this point, Leisure Time Tours inbound division commenced.

1997 Les & Barbara’s son, Scott Mehrtens, returned from overseas and joined as a shareholder and Manager of Leisure Time Tours. Scott’s background in events and hospitality management also added another dimension to the company – working with the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events industry (MICE).

2001 Leisure Time Tours purchased their first coach to compliment their tour operation. The fleet grew rapidly and new vehicles are continually added to keep up with demand from the touring operation.   Owning a coach fleet in New Zealand enables greater cost and quality control while giving agents and their guests’ assurance of seamless operations.

2011 Leisure Time Tours purchased Travel Time South Pacific, a well-established inbound tour operator offering not only group travel but tailor-made FIT travel solutions. Travel Time South Pacific was established in 1989 by Jim Monahan who had an extensive range of experience within the NZ tourism sector, including 22 years with the New Zealand Tourist Bureau. The purchase of Travel Time South Pacific included a strong list of existing clients in the UK, USA and Europe, and growth of human resources with Jim’s passionate team of staff (many of whom are still working with us today) bringing together well over 150 years of combined experience in the NZ travel industry. The inbound operations continue under the name Travel Time South Pacific, working in conjunction with our brand Leisure Time Tours.

2017 We celebrated a fantastic milestone – 30 successful years in the tourism industry!

Today We create innovative and inspiring itineraries for hundreds of inbound groups and FIT bookings every year, predominantly from Western Markets including Australia, North America, UK & Ireland, Europe and the Middle East. Our passionate team also arrange incentive travel and distinctive programmes for the MICE market.

If you want to take advantage of our 30+ years of experience – contact us today to discuss how we can work together.