Early beginnings

Waitomo Adventures Ltd was first established in 1987 by CEO Nick Andreef. The company have a long and proud history delivering unique underground adventures and experiences through some of the incredible cave systems in the Waitomo area.

The Issue

In 1998 a company called BWR Resources Limited successfully registered the phrase “black water rafting” at the New Zealand Patent Office as a trademark.

For many adventure tourism operators including Waitomo Adventures Ltd, removing their ability to legitimately use the phrase “black water rafting” made the promotion of their adventure experiences difficult and was having a negative effect on their businesses.

Engaging a Trade Mark Professional

In 2000 Waitomo Adventures Ltd, well supported by other parties in the industry began a process to have the “black water rafting” mark removed from the Trade Marks Register.

Recognising the need for expert advice and representation, Waitomo Adventures Ltd engaged J.D. Hardie & Co. (parent company of NZMarks*) in 2000 to assist and represent them in this matter.

The Process

Waitomo Adventures Ltd was represented in a lengthy legal battle where they argued that the term “black water rafting” had become a generic term in the public’s eye and should not be owned by any one company.


In 2002 Justice Tony Randerson agreed and declared the term “black water rafting” to be generic in the Hamilton High Court. Waitomo Adventures Ltd had won and the mark was expunged from the Trade Marks Register.

This successful outcome helped to improve the Waitomo Adventures Ltd business dynamic and secure the long term interests of the business. The success was felt further than just Waitomo Adventures Ltd, with industry operators all over the country now free to grow the black water rafting market.

From strength to strength

Today Waitomo Adventures Ltd continues to be one of the leading providers of underground adventures in New Zealand. On top of their underground adventure experiences, they also added a Day Spa to the business in 2020.

With NZMarks’ assistance Waitomo Adventures Ltd now have ten trade marks registered on the New Zealand Trade Marks Register. These trade marks help distinguish their adventuring services from others in the industry and protect their creative naming of particular adventures. The longer the trade marks are used, the more goodwill is built up adding value to these often unaccounted for intangible company assets.

It’s definitely worth getting NZMarks’ advice early on. They did a fantastic job of representing us. Thanks NZMarks

Nick Andreef, Waitomo Adventures Ltd CEO

Got an unusual Trademark situation? Contact NZMarks today for expert advice.

*NZMarks Ltd was incorporated when J.D. Hardie & Co split out their trademark business in 2004. NZMarks Ltd now acts independantly of J.D.Hardie & Co