Get the low down on the Hiking New Zealand and Active Earth Adventures team. We asked Michelle McConnon what she gets up to when she is not working and/or hiking.
Michelle McConnon - Tour Manager/Women's Adventure Specialist
Born and bred Rangiora lass, not that I have been here my entire life! I did cut the apron strings a few times in the nineties when I travelled to Japan and then onto England and Europe for the classic Kiwi overseas adventure (OE).
When I returned to New Zealand I met Hamish, now my husband and father of our two super-cool kids. His work took us to Rotorua for five years and that is where I switched from being a Dental Practice Manager to Tourism. Rotorua is a mecca for Maori cultural tourism as well as geothermal activity. Over the years Rotorua has also embraced adventure tourism with an incredible network of mountain bike trails through the forests and anything from zorbing to luging.
I credit the trails of Rotorua with cementing my love for mountain biking.
Michelle and hubby Hamish, post Grape Ride – one of her husband’s recent events.
What do you do when you are not working or hiking?
Wrangling a couple of kids, pets, a husband and making the most of trail running or biking on our amazing choice of nearby hills is generally what I am doing if I am not working or hiking.
If I am not doing that I’m at least planning my next adventure with the girls. There is always an adventure race, multi-day hike, rogaine or mountain bike that just has to be done!
Favourite coffee haunt?
Little Vintage Café – a regular coffee stop for me, after my yoga work out in Amberley, North Canterbury. The staff are really friendly and they make an excellent coffee – we call the barista “that super friendly guy”. The fact that they are always busy (but really efficient) is testament to the great food and coffee.
Favourite hiking trip?
Gillespie and Rabbit Passes, Mt Aspiring National Park.
Have you done it?
Yes in March 2015, was one of the coolest things I have done in the wilderness of New Zealand (albeit very nearly outside of my comfort zone).
Why choose this trip?
I’m always up for a challenge - quietly competitive even. How could I resist when it is said to be the one of the most challenging and longest guided tramps (Kiwi speak for hikes) New Zealand offers. Also it is in Mt Aspiring National Park which is a place I am always keen to explore with its awe-inspiring mountains, jaw draw dropping views and leg shaking rock faces.
This trip is very weather dependant - we even managed to get a helicopter flight back into the park for a second attempt to cross Rabbit Pass - including the renowned Waterfall Face. It was such a personal achievement to be dropping down the other side of the Pass after potentially thinking we may not get across it due to weather. And to be honest can I admit that not carrying a heavy pack for 8 days was also a bonus as you only need to carry your personal items.