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Paula Bennett standing in front of a building

Recently, our Tourism Minister Paula Bennett went public with her support for tipping, something that has never been part of New Zealand culture.  Shortly after receiving a wee bit of criticism she tweeted,

Ok not everyone likes tipping. I’m not suggesting it’s compulsory, or replaces wages, or that we tip a %. It’s a meaningful way to say thx’

As I pondered this idea, my soggy digestive biscuit fell to the bottom of my tea cup.  As it slowly disintegrated, I reminisced about an awkward moment I had with a bellhop in Auckland.

After a long flight, I just wanted to get to my hotel room and put my head down.  After checking in, the bell hop approached me and offered to take my backpack.  I told him it was light and not to worry, however he insisted, smiled and just picked my bag up… and off he went.

Inside the room I was given a run through of how everything worked.  As the minutes wore on, I realised this ‘hotel room for dummies’ introduction had been told a thousand times and this guy wanted a tip. I wondered how much I’d have to pay him.  Should I give him a dollar…. hold on, I don’t have any coins and there’s no danger he’s getting a note!  Eventually, this awkward situation ended when my phone started to ring.

So, should tourists be encouraged to tip in New Zealand?  We’ll if someone steals your bag I would probably say no. However, TripAdvisor says New Zealand has been described as having a “true” merit-based tipping culture, where a tip for exceptional service is not customary or required, but appreciated. It suggested a rate of 10 per cent.

Obviously, some cultures tip as a matter of course, and others wouldn’t dream of it.  For example, I don’t think any of our guides have ever been tipped by a New Zealander.  So, if we wouldn’t tip you, why would you tip us?

Here at Back to Nature Tours, just like the rest of New Zealand, we can’t really get into the tipping culture.  We don’t smile or learn the names of all our guests because we want a tip.  Our guides are professionals that get paid well and enjoy their work – they don’t want you to spend a second thinking about gratuities.

So, when we drop you off at the end of the tour, give us a ‘meaningful thx’ by sharing a few words and shaking our hand.  You could take it to the next level by writing a review of your tour online, we appreciate the support.

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