Early Birds – Part Two

“On a Mish” #294 Early Birds – Part Two. Patea / Doubtful Sound. Fiordland National Park. 10.8.2021. I never pictured myself as an educator of any sorts. I love guiding and telling stories, but dealing with kids I usually leave for someone else. Looking back it is incredible what kind of journey my life has taken over the years. Wrecking my back years ago led to a massive change in lifestyle and work, and I still credit that injury as one of the most important points in my life. Until then I was just cruising (literally sometimes in my Rx-7) through life with no clear direction. After I recovered I looked for a job, and the first job that caught my eye was working on the Routeburn Track as a guide for Ultimate Hikes. Since then I have never looked back…

After my hip accident in 2020 I thought many times that my career working in the wild parts of Aotearoa was over, and there were some dark times sitting around doing very little. But as with my back injury, my hip injury was just a change in direction, not an abrupt end to the life I had grown to love. The new direction my life took was first work at the Te Ana-Au Glowworm Caves on the shores of Lake Te Anau, and then the opportunity to work at the school camps in Deep Cove. The important thing I heard was “work at Deep Cove” so I was keen. After doing a few trips I got used to the job and began to really enjoy passing on my love and enthusiasm for Fiordland. Now to change tack for a minute and briefly head around the world to the mountains of Nepal. By chance life (and my bro Dan) offered me the chance to not only visit Nepal, but also get involved with the amazing people at Active Hearts Foundation. A major part of the charity is directed at the children of Nepal with the building of libraries in the schools of remote villages. Until 2020 I was heading over to Nepal each year to take part in charity treks, which brought aid and supplies to very remote parts of the stunning mountainous country. So now back in 2021, after many years helping out the kids of Nepal it was time to help out the young fellas in Aotearoa. I have managed to combine the two by giving a presentation about Active Hearts Foundation work in Nepal at each camp.

At this camp, after my talk, I was told by one of the teachers that the team was going to tackle the challenging Hanging Valley track early-ish the next morning. The early birds were all ready to go at 6.30am, and in the dark I led the team up the steep track. To add more excitement it was raining as we began our hike. I had the same feeling I get when on an Active Hearts adventure in Nepal of pride in my work, knowing I was helping the young achieve something to be proud of. With a massive smile of satisfaction and enjoyment on my face I congratulated the team of adventurous early birds at the top of the track, and together we enjoyed the reward of the massive Huntleigh Falls. The hike was painful on the way down, but the excellent connection with the kids worked like a bandaid on my old man hips, and after a rest I was ready for part two of this day at work. The second part of this school camp adventure was a 3-hour cruise out in Ataahua Patea / Doubtful Sound, and as I did my job as the trip’s Nature Guide I laughed at the fact that about a third of the team was asleep in the ship’s main seating area! I’m not surprised after such an epic morning. Hopefully a morning that gave the fellas an appreciation of what they can do with a little effort, and maybe opened the door for a few of them to a career of excitement and enjoyment in New Zealand tourism…

Heavy Rain Falling on the Hanging Valley Track

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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