What happens when the largest outdoor operator in Taupo meets an ex body guard from Duran Duran, who has worked with Bear Grylls on survival shows and created one of the South Islands most successful guided walk companies?
You work together!
That is exactly what has happened with the employment of Pete Hitchman as the operations manager of Chris Jolly Outdoors. As a result of this amazing opportunity, Chris Jolly Outdoors is excited to announce the development of two ground breaking tourism products for the North Island; snow shoeing, and their wilderness bush experience.
Pete and his wife started snowshoeing in the South Island.
“My wife and I moved to Queenstown to run New Zealand Walks. One year we decided to introduce snowshoeing. We started with five pairs of snowshoes, just to give it a try. That first year we had had just five clients the whole season. We didn’t do any marketing so no one knew what it was, but then Tourism New Zealand came on board, and Destination Queenstown," he says.
"We got more shoes and coats, and from five in that first year, two years later we had 1500 people”.
Snowshoeing with Chris Jolly Outdoors is the only tour of its kind available in the North Island. A partnership has been formed with Tukino, a boutique ski field on Mount Ruapehu.
The numbers on the field guarantee a bespoke experience, with CAT transfers to the top of the ridge.
Snow shoeing allows anyone to experience a walking adventure in an untouched winter wonderland, and better yet, you don’t have to be able to ski, just walk! Clients are transferred to the field and provided with all equipment for a day filled with snow shoeing, snow crystal gazing, a picnic in the snow and an opportunity to learn about the history of this amazing area.
“Even seeing flies in the snow is interesting as their wings freeze, so they aren’t ‘flies’ they are ‘walks’!” says Pete.
The wilderness experience product is another first for the North Island, which is born out of Pete's work over the years in the outdoors and his career as a personal protection agent for Duran Duran.
“At 17 I used to compete for Britain in bodybuilding. I was a heavyweight, so I was a big guy, and I used to work in nightclubs as a bouncer. Our in-house band was called Duran Duran and, as they became bigger and bigger, the manager of the club signed them up. I ended up being part of their security team with two former SAS guys.
"This was in 1984 and I toured through the UK and Europe with them,” he says.
During this time, he learned bush survival strategies which has morphed into a unique adventure for clients where they can learn about New Zealand medicinal plants, how to build shelters, create fire and cookers out of basic every day items and how to survive in the wild.
“Anybody can do a bush walk but it is about getting something out of the experience, what the client learns on these expeditions will stay with them as life skills forever," says Pete.
The exciting part of these tours is that on a full day excursion, clients will be transported to a private area of land where a recent survey has shown that the land is filled with native New Zealand parrots, bats, kiwi and amazing native bush.
Chris Jolly Outdoors is focused on creating unique adventures, and with the expertise and industry prowess of Pete Hitchman, they promise that this is only the beginning of the creation of exciting new products to offer to the New Zealand tourism market and residents.