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The Aotea New Zealand History

Aotea New Zealand was born in 1979, originally as the Aotea Greenstone and Sheepskin Factory in Takanini (near Auckland). Our Founder, Peter Hanson, took interest in the place as he commuted past it, every day, on his way to the Papakura Military camp. When it came up for sale, Peter was inspired and decided to take on the challenge. The store started off small, with only five employees, but it had a big heart.

It didn’t take long for Aotea Sheepskin and Greenstone Factory to evolve, and it expanded into stores in Auckland CBD, Rotorua, Christchurch & Queenstown.  Peter and his wife; Joan spent a lot of time in these locations. Realising the need for quality stores with New Zealand product, and with experience in these regions, stores were opened in the 80’s, many of which are still here today. During this period the stores operated under the brand of Aotea Souvenirs and Naturally New Zealand.

During the 1990’s shops were also operated by Aotea in Ashburton Railway Station and Omarama.

Unfortunately, when the Christchurch Earthquakes hit in 2011, our three stores in the CBD had to close because of the extensive damage in the area. Although devastating, this encouraged us to seek new opportunities. We expanded into Tekapo, and have been an integral part of its growth into a desired tourist destination. In 2016, we opened another store in Auckland, and opened our first doors in Dunedin. In 2019 we re-opened in Christchurch.

Over the years, Aotea has undergone rebranding and restructuring to maintain relevant, and at the forefront of the tourism and retail industries. Now known as Aotea Gifts, this well-established brand encompasses 8 of our stores and online platforms.

Peter, with his wife Joan, armed with their passion and love for their country New Zealand, launched into travel retail, with the aim to provide travellers with tangible memories of their time in New Zealand. Over the past four decades, they have built a strong team, dedicated to their business and mission. Peter passed unexpectedly in 2019.

Aotea New Zealand remains family owned and operated, with sons Richard and Donald Hanson as Directors.

Community & Charity:

Aotea believes in giving back to the local community. Over the years, we have supported and contributed to numerous sporting and community activities. These include:

  • Kiwi Foundation - Northland
  • Queenstown Trails Trust
  • Hyundai Marine Sports Centre (Royal Akarana Yacht Club)
  • Rotary Club of Auckland
  • Cure Kids - Auckland (2016)
  • Salvation Army Christmas Appeal - Rotorua (2016)
  • NZ Chinese Children’s Writing Competition - Auckland (2016)
  • Waikato University Research into New Zealand Tourism (2015)


Aotea has been recognised as the leading travel retailer by external travel and tourist associations or bodies:

  • Recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading tourism businesses by being licensed to carry the Qualmark Gold Certification.
  • Only retail company accredited to Tourism Industry Aotearoa.
  • Certified as one of New Zealand’s leading tourism business by being the first New Zealand company to be endorsed to carry the China Outbound Tourism Quality Service Certification – China’s official mark of quality.
  • OTMA (Outbound Tour Managers Association – Malaysia) Certification that Aotea stores are a trusted retail environment for Malaysian customers while travelling.
  • CNZTA (China New Zealand Trade Association)