Participants in last week’s multi activity Siberian Wilderness trip in Mt Aspiring National Park were asked to think about how the trip could translate to Active Adventure’s offshore destinations, in particular the Himalaya, South America, Africa and Europe. Originally an inbound product for North Americans, Active Adventures’ product is now 50% outbound, and growing. ‘We have been operating in adventure travel for 23 years, and I think Kiwis are missing out on something really cool,’ says CEO Wendy van Lieshout. ‘We’re fully guided, not escorted, and we always have two guides. We take New Zealand’s high safety standards and translate them to the destinations that we operate in. A lot of tour companies have local operators who rock up to the airport with the relevant tour company’s sign – we actually have Active Adventures employed guides with guests every step of the way.’ All of the company’s guides are either trained in New Zealand or trained by its New Zealand guides and this consistency of service was a key consideration for agents on the famil. ‘Accountability is something an agent can’t rate highly enough,’ says Janey Bytheway from helloworld 5 Mile in Queenstown.
‘Active Adventures’ guides are New Zealand trained and they hold the same values. They are the supplier on the ground.’ The three-day famil was part of the company’s eight-day Tui itinerary, taking in a spectacular flight through the mountains to the remote Siberia region where the group hiked up to the frozen Lake Crucible, a jet boat out of the region along the Wilkin River, and a cycle between Hawea and Wanaka. It involved a challenging 450m climb and river crossings. The expertise of the guides, Claire Hesselin and Mel McArtney, impressed the agents. ‘The safety briefings were concise and they were well prepared for any situation,’ says Graham Elliott from World Travellers Gisborne. ‘Knowing this is a Kiwi company with Kiwi staff overseas, you could sell the product with the highest degree of confidence.’ Agent sales manager of Active Adventures, Brian Daly, says the South Island itinerary could be compared to those the company offers in Patagonia. ‘In Patagonia our trips are multi activity trips – a mixture of sea kayaking, biking and hiking. It could be scenic hikes, helicopter rides up onto a glacier, or wildlife viewing in Patagonia, for example, to see a large colony of native penguins on Magdalena Island.’ ‘The famil was the right balance of catering to our needs without molly coddling,’ says helloworld 5 Mile’s Bytheway. ‘As travel makes the world smaller and experiences meld into the next, Active Adventures has a product that goes beyond the bucket list. It’s more of a personal growth experience.’