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Discovering the Locals of New Zealand

New Zealand hero

Meet the locals of New Zealand as they rave about everything the destination has to offer. New Zealand’s dramatic landscape speaks for itself, but it’s the people who live here who can take us to the heart of the nation.

Jos (right) with Garage Project brewer Pete Gillespie

Jos (right) with Garage Project brewer Pete Gillespie

Jos Ruffell's Garage Project Brewery

Jos Ruffell set up the Garage Project brewery in 2011 with Pete and Ian Gillespie.

“We set up the brewery in an old petrol station. We wanted to create an urban brewery where people could visit, see the process, smell and taste,” says Jos. The Garage Project began with a 50-litre brew kit, but now produces beer at multiple sites in Wellington. “The city is known as the creative and craft capital of New Zealand. “Our goal is to produce beers that can change perceptions of what beer can be, brewing with special ingredients and serving beers in unique ways. At our taproom, 91 Aro, you can experience this, be it a cookies and cream ale served on nitro and dusted with chocolate crumble, or a barrel-aged beer that’s flash-caramelised in the glass…”

Charlie’s tours include heli-skiing and heli-hiking on the Tasman Glacier

Charlie’s tours include heli-skiing and heli-hiking on the Tasman Glacier

Charlie Hobbs Leads Escapades on Southern Alps

Charlie Hobbs has been leading people on breathtaking escapades on New Zealand’s highest mountain since 1985.

“Aoraki/Mount Cook is majestic,” says Charlie. “There’s a rich mountaineering history, and I love living and working here. It’s nature at its best. There are so many special things to share: ice caves, ice canyons, kayaking around icebergs… it’s all here. I’m a marriage celebrant too, and I take couples to amazing places.” He also runs The Old Mountaineers’ Café Bar, serving locally sourced food to hungry adventurers.

Insider tip: You can see millions of stars from the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve – the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

Anna and Jason Flowerday

Anna and Jason Flowerday

Anna & Jason Flowerday's Te Whare Ra Vineyard & Winery

Anna and Jason Flowerday spend their days nurturing the oldest vines in New Zealand’s most famous wine region.

“I’m Australian and a fifth-generation winegrower,” says Anna. “Jason grew up here in Marlborough, where his family have been involved in viticulture since the 1980s. He made his first wine at age 16, before he was legally allowed to drink it! We’ve spent years bringing the Te Whare Ra winery back to life, restoring it to one of the best high-end wineries in the region and converting it to organic. “We are a cool-climate region with a lot of sunshine, so we can grow aromatic whites like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris. Our diverse soil types mean we can also produce world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, plus great sparkling wines. I love showing people that, although Sauvignon Blanc put Marlborough on the map, we’re not a one-trick pony.”

Insider tip: The Marlborough Sounds are home to 10% of New Zealand’s coastline, and there’s great hiking – try the Queen Charlotte Track.

Emma Bean with Aroha the kiwi

Emma Bean with Aroha the kiwi

Emma Bean Manages the National Kiwi Hatchery

Emma Bean is the hatchery manager in a specialist team working to preserve the nation’s iconic bird, the kiwi.

“I believe we have a collective duty of care to restore the ecosystems that have been negatively impacted by human arrival,” says Emma. “We work with conservation groups who collect kiwi eggs from 15 North Island forests. They come to us to incubate, hatch and rear, then the kiwis are released back into those forests. This increases the survival rate from 5% to about 65%.” All proceeds from behind-the-scenes tours of the hatchery go back into the conservation project. “People say that it takes a village to raise a child… well, it takes a community to save kiwi!”

Rappelling with the Underground Explorer

Rappelling with the Underground Explorer

Waitomo Adventures with Brad Smith

Brad Smith has spent 13 years showing guests a subterranean world through caving, abseiling and rafting.

“Once in the depths of the Lost World cave, you appreciate what Mother Nature has created,” says Brad. “It still blows my mind that around 12 million years ago, Waitomo was lifted out of the ocean, allowing the cave to be created by water erosion. I feel very privileged to work in this environment. “Our world-famous glowworms are what first attracted people here, and you’re guaranteed to see them. We offer six caving options, from black-water rafting and ziplining to abseiling trips… some dry, some down waterfalls! We’re set up for complete novices, so all you need is a sense of adventure.”

Hapuku Lodge's treehouses

Hapuku Lodge's treehouses

Chef Fiona Read at Hapuku Lodge

Fiona Read is executive chef at a contemporary country lodge, creating exquisite dishes with local produce.

“Hapuku Lodge has incredible views of the mountains and out to the Pacific Coast,” says Fiona. “It’s a chef’s dream. I have access to wild produce from the sea, coast, farmland and mountains. Whatever is at its best, that’s what ends up on the plate – it could be from our own gardens or chickens, a local’s veg patch, or foraged from the coast or mountains. If it’s fresh, delicious and full of flavour, it forms the basis of the dish. Simple, honest, generous.”

Written by Flight Centre UK

At Flight Centre we are long-haul, tailor-made holiday specialists offering amazing travel experiences. Our lovely humans Travel Consultants have a real can-do attitude, and are passionate about sharing their stories and travel news with you on our blog!

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