Ha, I say I come from the mid Hutt Valley which is the Bronx of New Zealand, a veritable cultural wilderness immersed in the land of the real wilderness’(aside from the Dowse Art Gallery – a very fine Lower Hutt institution). As unfashionable as the Hutt is, it’s important to realise that if someone actually admits to coming from the Hutt, there is a good chance that they are in fact from somewhere entirely worse. In my case that would be Stokes Valley - right next door.
What do you do when you are not working or hiking?
I play ‘hide from the smartphone’ with Anne as my opponent! I also love mountain biking, quite enjoy carpentry, and of course spending every second with my three gorgeous little girls (before they become teenagers). I brew beer and love traveling to far away spots. I went to Oman last year and climbed a 3000m desert mountain with two good friends. That was brilliant, remote so very very different and in a land of wonderful Muslim people. Perfect holiday.
Favorite coffee haunt?
Some coffee houses are on a whole different level.
- Millers, Cross St, Auckland. It’s actually a roaster with a few chairs skating around the old tired floor, 30+ years of roasting started way back with a Faema E61 3 group (which is still in use somewhere apparently). They roast but don’t expect them to be open after high noon. They gotta deliver the product I guess…
- Dubai Creek, yes in Dubai. I suspect the next good flat white is thousands of km away. See this old blog of mine. The Coffee Museum, I only had one coffee there and it was excellent. And the place was fascinating.
Favourite hiking trip?
Ultimate North. Is it immodest to choose a trip I created?!
Have you done it?
Lots. I’ve guided this trip in many incarnations over the last 20+ years. Summer, winter, spring and autumn.
Why choose this trip?
It is NZ in a nutshell. Remote, lush, vibrant and so wildly different from one moment to the next. Pinch yourself that you are now being dehydrated on the dusty summit of a shimmering volcano. Ochre reds and high sky, arid valleys and big views. Yesterday you wiped past giant fern fronds and dripping moss, saw rainforests from the Jurassic, and that little voice in your head was screaming “BORNEO, we are in Borneo you idiot”. I love surprising people that all this incredible wilderness is in the island they nearly skipped altogether.
Anything special about your favorite trip?
I do adore Te Urewera (day 2-4 Lake Waikaremoana), for both its geography and, for a lack of a better term, its contemporary politics. The sense of separation, this is utterly remote Tuhoe-Maori tribal country. Bright blue lakes floating on oceans of forests. Just nature here, and you. Under NZ law, it has recently been made a “person” with the same rights of existence as any individual. How cool is that? What a step forwards for western conservation and communities hand in hand.