Get the low down on the Hiking New Zealand and Active Earth Adventures team. We asked Martin Leslie what he gets up to when he is not working and/or hiking.
Martin Leslie - Head of Guiding and Operations
I am originally from Nelson; an area blessed with beautiful coastal and mountain environments and a great climate. Growing up active in the outdoors developed a strong connection with place and a lifelong interest in introducing others to the outdoors and fostering in them an appreciation of the natural world.
After university study of earth sciences and some experience working with children in the outdoors in holiday jobs I chose to train and spend a long career as a high school teacher focusing on outdoor and environmental education.
During a break from teaching two years ago I started guiding hiking tours for Hiking New Zealand. I loved leading and introducing adults to our special places, and have now made the change of job permanent.
What do you do when you are not working or hiking?
In my spare time I am mostly outdoors and as well as hiking I enjoy mountain biking, sailing, sea kayaking, and skiing with family and friends. I also enjoy furniture making and a bit of gardening and carpentry around home.
Travel has been more of a feature lately. With both our daughters living in North America for periods of time in recent years this has been our chosen travel destination and I have developed quite a liking for the Pacific Northwest.
Favourite coffee haunt?
I struggle to think of anywhere I habituate. I do like the Addington Coffee Co-op, not just for their coffee but for the ethical way they do business. You can read their story on their website. Significantly, this is where I met Dan to talk over applying for my current job.
Favourite Hiking trip?
My most memorable hike has to be the Peak Bagger, New Zealand.
Have you done it?
I guided the Peak Bagger twice during January this year. Those trips were memorable for a few reasons; extremes of weather, terrain which challenged the fitness and comfort zones of the clients and a medical scare which all served to keep the guide occupied! The main reason it's a favourite is historic. Part of the Peak Bagger trip, the traverse of Robert Ridge to Lake Angelus and down Hukere Stream, was my first winter alpine route as an unskilled and poorly equipped teenager. Fortunately I survived to learn from the experience, although a bit worse for wear!
Why choose this trip?
Personally, the unimpeded views you gain with tops travel above the bush line on this trip make the climbing to get there worthwhile. I especially like to return time and time again to the Nelson region holidaying and more recently guiding.
Anything special about your favourite trip?
There is such a variety of landscapes displayed in the Abel Tasman, Kahurangi and Nelson Lakes National Parks that I never tire of them. Our South Island itineraries Ultimate South and Southern Slice get off to a great start in these parks before heading south.