If it is winter and you happen to tell people you are in the tourism industry the inevitable response is ‘what do you do all winter?’. It is at that point you do some soul-searching and wonder how can we be so busy when everyone thinks we just put our feet up and take elongated annual leave over the chiller months. We are not defensive in the slightest ;) but rest assured we are busy in the office during the four or five months that we don’t have guided adventures out in the wilderness. We work a couple of years ahead for our scheduled departures so winter is a great chance to implement any changes to itineraries and get all the accommodation and pre-planned logistics organised. That said, we do also try and take some leave and recharge the batteries.
Check out the highlights of winter for the Head Office team:
For the first time, Eva spent an entire winter in New Zealand – no return trip to Germany to catch up with family. To make the most of the season, she filled up her schedule with different courses, in order to improve her mountaineering and backcountry skills. Once she had those skills sorted it was hard to keep her in the office…she spent a week in the North Island exploring the area of Mt Ruapehu (mountaineering & ice-climbing), took Liam (the boss’s kid) on a day trip up Mt Aiken, went several times skiing and finished up the winter season with an incredible trip to Mt Harper.
Dan considers himself the lucky one this winter – he was our Tour Leader for our Active Earth Adventures Huayhuash Trek in Peru. It was Dan’s third time back in Peru and the second time doing the Huayhuash Trek.
Together with a great bunch of people, consisting of 7 Kiwis, 2 Americans and 1 Swiss, they hiked about 140kms over 12 days, most of the time at altitudes between 3800 and 5000 metres above sea level!
Dan felt really fortunate to have been able to spend this time with great people in this remote and spectacular part of South America. Those of us in the office have suggested it is someone else’s turn to be Tour Leader next year as the stunning images have left us all yearning to head to the tower peaks of the Cordillera Huayhuash.
Winter 2018 was all about snow for Anne. As a born and bred North Islander there is no denying she misses the warmth of the Bay of Plenty. She will not be moving back up north anytime soon as the mountains of the south are her backyard now, so she made a concerted effort this winter to get out there and embrace them even more than usual.
It was with a ski pass for all the family and visions of becoming a ski bunny, that turned Anne her hand to skiing. However, after five days learning a new sport she concluded snowboarding whilst the kids are skiing isn’t an insurmountable problem anyway – it’s good to be different from the kids. Although she was seen hiring the kids snowboards and relishing the opportunity to be teacher rather than pupil.
Anne also headed for the hills with her trail running buddies and did some good day missions in Arthur’s Pass, there was definitely more hiking than running in the snow but with light backpacks a considerable amount of ground was made on each of the day missions.
Michelle ticked a few mountain missions off her trail running wish-list this winter, as well as making the most of the family’s new boat purchase!
A few of her trail running buddies got together and planned a double day trail running mission in Arthur’s Pass National Park.
Day 1 consisted of completing the Casey Binser loop, a 36 km tramp (hike) that is actually quite ‘run-able’. The last 10km of mainly flat running almost bet her, but the lure of cold beer ensured she got there in the end! After a night staying at the Bealey Hotel – yes a couple of beers were indulged - the girls headed out for Day 2 which was run-walking (combination of running and walking) the Cass / Lagoon Circuit. This was a 34km day, crossing over the two saddles – Cass and Lagoon. Both days took around 8-9 hours to tick off. Mission accomplished!
A bit of relaxation and a recharge was called for after that adventure, so her family headed out for the maiden voyage in their new boat on a stunning winter’s day fishing at Lake Coleridge. No fish were caught but just wait until the summer and she will be supplying the office with fresh fish.
Since Magan’s hiking buddy had a 5 month recovery after surgery, she didn’t get to go on as many exciting missions as she would’ve liked, but she still managed to go on a nice mission to find snow in the mountains.
Magan’s highlight of the winter was the Bealey Spur Track. Located in Arthur’s Pass, she enjoyed this day trip from her home in Christchurch, together with her partner Tom and housemate Koh. Stretching their legs during a nice gradual uphill hike, it didn’t take long before they were rewarded with stunning views of the mountains and stepped their boots into the snow - mission accomplished.
Arriving at the little green Bealey Spur Hut, which is a very cool and basic hut with 6 bunks and a fire place, it was time to turn around and head back to the vehicle.
To complete their Arthur’s Pass mission they had to stop at the famous Sheffield Pie Shop on the way home! A pie from the Sheffield Pie Shop is pretty much compulsory if you drive through Sheffield.
For Anika the winter season has been short and sweet. Anika flew over from The Netherlands late in August, so had to deal with a bit of a change in seasons. Leaving her home country at 30+ degrees Celsius (it was a very hot summer) and arriving in New Zealand’s winter, without central heating, was a bit of a shock. She quickly learned how to light a log burner!
In the last weeks of winter Anika spent her weekends exploring the country as she did a city trip to Christchurch and got to go on a family hiking trip with the Murphys! Her first New Zealand hiking trip to Foggy Peak rewarded her with amazing views of snow-capped mountains in Arthur’s Pass. The kids, Liam and Eva, persuaded Anika to participate in some snow-sliding activities at the top of the mountain!
What could possibly take the place of a keen skier’s desire to get out and enjoy the late season snow conditions here in the New Zealand mountains? For Martin it was the opportunity to get together with his family for a month in the Pacific Northwest, starting in Olympic National Park in Washington, then moving on to Vancouver Island.
The biggest highlights for Martin were the alpine and coastal rainforest hikes with amazing autumn colours and seeing humpback whales blow from the deck of their seaside accommodation. Next to home this is a region he could definitely find a lifetime of adventure in!
Meanwhile Ange couldn’t come up with the photographic evidence of her escapades over the winter. But we do know Ange jumped the ditch (slang for going to Australia) over the course of the winter to explore Melbourne. It was a great escape with her husband after he had spent a reasonable proportion of the winter in California fighting fires as part of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand international deployment.
Malcolm finally ticked off one of the country's best single track MTB trips; why had he not done it years ago? Probably because it was on his back door step. Typical...
About 10 years ago the Department of Conservation built a dual walking and mountain biking trail through the stunning Whirinaki wilderness in the central North Island. Back in the day, Hiking New Zealand did a beautiful three-day walk through here on our old Volcanoes and Rainforest Tour. It really is the most remarkable place - 35km of single track and another 30km of gravel road if you want to complete the loop without a local guy (Garry) dropping you off or picking you up.
Now it is onward and upward as they say. We have had at least half a dozen trips come and go already this hiking season so let the fun times begin…