Hiking Guide's Lockdown Lowdown
As New Zealand enters week 5 of lockdown, it is fair to say we have settled into this slow paced lifestyle. Rolling out of bed and in to our home office space, dressed bottom half PJ's and top half something appropriate incase an impromptu office video meeting via zoom catches you out again.
Us office folk have adapted okay to remote working... but what about our Hiking New Zealand Guides? The people who's feet don't stop moving for a living!
We checked in with some of the team to find out how they are coping with the mountains being closed for a while and what they have been doing to occupy their time in lockdown.
If you have been on a trip with Jessi as your guide, you will know that ‘slowing down’ is not her forte, the hills are her home so she’s eager to get back out there to explore for a good week or two to shake it all off!
In the meantime Jessi has found plenty of ways to stay busy with daily yoga, heading out in the Autumn sunshine for a run and setting herself the challenge of completing an art piece every day. With a collection of paints, buckskin materials, feathers and more, we are intrigued to see the creations that follow.
As Jessi reflects on the season that was, there are many highlights that spring to mind. One of the most memorable would have to be an epic dance party with her group on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in the pouring rain – with a smile planted on every face!
Favourite book: Power of Now – by Eckhart Tolle
Finish line theme song: Resilient - by Rising Appalachia
Favourite quote: “We are capable of suffering with our world, and that is the true meaning of compassion. It enables us to recognize our profound interconnectedness with all beings. Don’t ever apologize for crying for the trees burning in the Amazon or over the waters polluted from mines in the Rockies. Don’t apologize for the sorrow, grief, and rage you feel. It is a measure of your humanity and your maturity. It is a measure of your open heart, and as your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal. That is what is happening as we see people honestly confronting the sorrows of our time.”
Early morning yoga and whipping up delicious baked goods has been on the daily agenda for Kathryn. She’s also been exploring her creative side with some impressive harakeke (flax) weavings!
If you have had the pleasure of joining a trip with Kathryn as your guide, your days would have been filled with laughs and delicious food! Her endless energy is contagious so we are not surprised that her top tip for making the most of these slow paced days is to speed them up! Kathryn’s advice – Don’t oversleep, get up and get going, set goals to achieve each day and most importantly get outside in the fresh air!
After lockdown she’s looking forward to getting back on her mountain bike and out on the backcountry trails of NZ, and giving her Dad a big hug!
Favourite book: Survival of the fittest – by Mike Stoud (for those looking to get fit, healthy and test what your body is capable of)
Finish line theme song: Like I’m going to loose you – by Meghan Trainer (reminds us to not take anything or anyone for granted)
Favourite quote: "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery but today is a gift that’s why we call it the present."
Andre (aka Dre)
Dre is an avid outdoor enthusiast, all year long you’ll find him guiding keen outdoors men and women by foot or on two wheels around New Zealand, rain or shine . Understandably he’s itching to get back in to the hills for a mission, but for now, Andre is taking a trip down memory lane. Dusting off his record collection and embracing the stand still while rediscovering lots of musical gems.
After an epic summer season meeting lots of great people and guiding them around the trails of NZ we asked Andre what was his highlight of the season – “My group and I seeing a pod of Orca whales 30 meters off the beach in Abel Tasman National park! Jaw dropping is an understatement.”
Favourite book: Shantaram – by Gregory Roberts
Finish line theme song: UMO – by Hunnybee
Favourite quote: “One day in the Hills is worth two in the City” (an Andre original)
Lockdown fail: Not purchasing a lawnmower!
Jeffrey (aka Inky)
Inky found his last trip of the season cut short due to the rapidly evolving situation of Covid-19, in a matter of days a New Zealand lockdown was introduced. Amongst a very unnerving time, Inky mentions that the positivity and comradery amongst his group was a refreshing reminder to soak it all in and enjoy the freedom to roam the land while we still can.
As expected, Inky is looking forward to returning to Te Tiritri o te Moana (the Southern Alps) where he has spent much of his time exploring the mountains, staying in a remote hut and playing cards in front of the campfire.
While in lockdown, Inky and his wife Jessi have enjoyed structuring their day to make the most of this downtime. Keeping fit with regular runs, playing music and tackling various projects around the casita they reside in. We agree with Inky when he mentions how much sweeter the little things in life will be when we all emerge from our containment.
Favourite book: Beak of the Moon – by Phillip Temple; a book about Kea (NZ’s only alpine Parrot)
Finish line theme song: Hope for a Generation – by Fat Freddy’s Drop
Favourite quote: “He Waka eke noa” (A canoe which we are in with no exception). In other words, "We are all in this together”.
As a new home owner, Sarah has filled her days tackling the overgrown high maintenance garden and transforming it into a beautiful sanctuary filled with New Zealand native plants and creating a vege garden. She’s lucky to have the Port Hills at her doorstep which is an inviting view each morning for a nice long run to start the day, although like us all, she’s eagerly awaiting the day she can get a bit more further afield.
Sarah mentions that seeing a great amount of people getting outdoors and exercising in the fresh air while sticking within their bubble is one big positive to take from this lockdown.
When asked what was her highlight of the recent hiking season, Sarah shared her experience of having to make a call to divert the itinerary from Mt Cook due to bad weather, she and her group found themselves spending two days in Mt Somers which turned out to be a perfect decision, the sun was shining, the hiking was incredible and her very memorable group shared a dip in a beautiful swimming hole at the end of the track!
Favourite book: A Walk in the Woods – by Bill Bryson (anything by him is hilarious)
Finish line theme song: Anything by Crowded House!
Favourite quote: “Look up” – a reminder to pause and appreciate what you’ve got, whether that be an amazing view or simply your health.
Marios had a busy season guiding plenty of keen hikers on trails around New Zealand. The past season of wild weather and natural events causing track closures kept Marios on his toes with trip diversions and improvising to ensure everyone in his group had an incredible experience, and we hear they did!
A memorable highlight of the season was watching how quickly his groups formed close friendships with each other as they came together to celebrate the 18th birthday of a group member with cake. Being sung Happy Birthday is so much cooler in the mountains!
Since the seasons end and lockdown being announced, Marios has been using this time to get stuck in to projects around his beautiful Tasman property. There is plenty of digging, composting and landscaping to be done around the place, Marios admits his one lockdown fail is not purchasing all the hardware for these projects before shops shut. We are intrigued to find out the creativity he’s used to get the job done.
Favourite book: The Alchemist – by Paulo Coelho
Your finish line theme song: Imagine - by John Lennon
Favourite quote: “Don’t take life too seriously, no one gets out alive”
Linda’s bubble consists of herself, husband Evan and their pooch. They’ve been spending time perfecting the yummiest and most convenient camping recipes and testing their outdoor gear in their backyard – getting ready for when they can escape the confinements of their property. Linda confesses this behavior is all down to being in transit with all their belongings in storage, so a deck of cards, camping gear and a few books is about all they have to stay occupied.
She’s been getting creative finding ways to keep busy amongst nature and has made some impressive Raranga (basket weavings) from the flax in her garden!
We ask Linda what is one positive we can all take from this time in lockdown “ Being time rich, it’s been great to slow down and enjoy the little things that we usually take for granted” - we agree!
From the past season that was Linda met some pretty amazing people throughout her time guiding them through the North Island so it’s no surprises that her highlight of the season was the people themselves!
Favourite book: The Overstory - by Richard Powers ( such a special gift from Jane and Randy, two clients from a recent hiking trip)
Finish line theme song: Beautiful day - by U2
Favourite quote: “Life begins on the edge of your comfort zone. Because getting out there experiencing new things keeps life real and every day niggles disappear”
For Adrienne, lockdown sounds like it has been the perfect combination of soaking in the sunshine, enjoying the ocean breeze from her beachside residence and staying connected with friends from afar via facetime. Slowing down and appreciating the stillness of less traffic and people going about their busy lives has meant that the beautiful sounds of nature are much more prominent on her daily bike rides.
This season Adrienne headed in to Mt Aspiring National park with a group of students from Harvard University, a huge highlight was meeting this lively bunch of students and sharing plenty of stories, laughs and spontaneous swims in some of the coldest waterfalls in New Zealand straight from the mountains!
As a keen outdoors woman, Adrienne already has big plans for when lockdown is over. On the cards is a trip up to the North Island to spend time hiking in Raglan and Waihi and reuniting with her beautiful niece and nephew who she has missed immensely.
Lockdown fail: Not getting more books out from the library
Finish line theme song: Don’t stop me now - by Queen
Favourite quote: ‘He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata’ (translates to “what is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people)
What does this mean to you? Making a difference for someone is so powerful, this could be as simple as smiling to someone walking down the street.
Katie had an epic first season as a hiking guide it’s been a real treat having her join the Hiking New Zealand family. She said her absolute highlight had to be watching each person in her group soak in the immense beauty of New Zealand and seeing their eyes light up with joy as they explored a new location full of mountains, forests and rivers.
We have jokingly awarded Katie with the biggest lockdown fail as she is currently taking a much more extended holiday than planned in the States. After the season ended, Katie took a quick trip back home to see family and friends, unbeknown to any of us, New Zealand shut their borders just a week later as the covid-19 situation escalated! Our fingers and toes are crossed to have her back on NZ soil soon, but I’m sure the extra quality family time has been savoured.
So we checked in with Katie on the other side of the globe to see what she’s been up to. As a voracious reader, she’s plowed through almost the entire library at her parents’ house, cleaning out cupboards, sorting through paperwork, cleaning out oyster cages, she’s even tried her hand at IT fixing printers! Katie is loving the time spent with family but also excited to return to NZ for another exciting season outdoors and to be with her partner Andre.
Favourite book: The Power of one – by Bryce Courtenay
Finish line theme song: Railroad Earth – A song about the need to be in the wild, in nature, the need for freedom and the places in the world that make you feel alive.
Favourite quote: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”