What do you get up to when you are not guiding?
My greatest pleasure is hanging out with my family. We live on a 2 acre property in the beautiful Motueka Valley, so have a limitless playground on our doorstep - whether taking a hike in Kahurangi National Park, a mountain bike, camping in Abel Tasman or just a mid-winter swim in the Motueka River. We live in a yurt on our property and have over 100 hazelnut trees, 40 fruit trees, berries and a vegetable garden. We love harvesting this produce and sharing delicious meals with friends.
As a guide what’s a top tip you’d pass on to our hikers?
Walk slow. Take your time. Get into the rhythms of Nature. These are more melancholy than our busy lives. Stop and listen to the birds. Smell the wet forest floor. Observe the insects. Reduce your pace walking up the hills. This gives you better stamina, keeps you more comfortable and ensures you are fresher for the hike ahead.
Sharing a laugh is such a benefit of group travel, share with us one of your funny moments on a trip?
It was early May and the group had made a stop at Blue Pools on the Haast Highway. This glacially-fed waterway takes it's name from the fine suspended particulate material held aloft in the flowing water. The light reflects an impossibly blue hue, making an inviting temptation for a frisky dip. Despite frost on the schist beach, the group were down to their undies and squealing with terror and delight having submerged themselves in the frigid waters. When it came to getting dressed again, the wet undies had frosty rocks welded to them. It gave a new meaning to 'dangleberries'
What is one of the things you love most about your job?
Whilst New Zealand sells itself and it is impossible to leave these isles without an enduring sense of wonder, for me it is the people which make this job. Having the opportunity to meet a diverse range of people from all walks of life, countries and cultures is a privilege. I love the deep and grunty conversations you get into whilst walking along a track. The mild exercise allows for clear thinking, the scenery is inspirational and the exchange of ideas leaves me with the warm fuzzies.
Favourite place to hike and why?
Fiordland. There may be other places on the planet to rival Fiordland for sheer power of landscape, but certainly none that can top it. Every view takes your breath away. But these moments are not for the faint-hearted! Not only is the rain legendary, but the rivers can swell in moments. There is mud, swamp and dense forest to battle. And there are te Namu - sandflies. The air is thick with them. But after you have taken your 10,000 bites, their annoyance diminishes and you finally submit to the privilege of hiking in this awe-inspiring landscape.