Fiona's passion for travel began when she visited Canada whilst studying Geography at university. Having sparked a desire to explore the country further, Fiona returned to Canada on a belated 'gap year' to spend time living in the Rockies where she worked as a ski instructor for two seasons. After returning to her home town of Oxford, Fiona joined Audley and has since spent time enjoying getting to know some of our favourite lodges and properties in Canada, Alaska and New Zealand.
Amongst the many highlights, some of her favourite experiences have been seeing the polar bears on the shores of Hudson Bay in Canada, cruising Glacier Bay in Alaska, flying into some of our remote lodges to observe grizzly bears catching salmon and walking the Tongariro Crossing track in New Zealand. Most recently Fiona has visited some of our favourite properties and excursions on a comprehensive self-drive trip around New Zealand. Outside work Fiona enjoys skiing, mountain biking, cooking and reading.
My Most Memorable Experience
"It sounds simple, but driving in the Rockies is one of the things that I have never tired of and has provided me with some of the most memorable experiences.
I drove along the Icefields Parkway on a cold and crisp late September morning with the fall colours in full swing and a touch of frost on the ground, the clear blue sky seemed to make everything sparkle.
I stopped and walked up to Peyto Lake and had the entire lake to myself gazing across the bright turquoise expanse with no tourists in sight.
This is certainly a great time to visit, there was definitely a chill in the air but having the views to yourself is a joy."
My Favourite Destination
"Tofino is one of the ultimate destinations in Canada for its variety of wildlife, scenery and activities. Its stunning wind swept sandy beaches facing the Pacific Ocean combined with a backdrop of lush green temperate rainforest make it a unique destination.
Part of the reason for its growing popularity for wildlife viewing is Clayoquot Sound, a UNESCO biosphere reserve. It was here that I have fond memories of watching a black bear with her cub gently make their way along the shoreline.
Another highlight is kayaking in the calm waters of the sound whilst looking out for harbour porpoise, eagles and all sorts of other marine life.
The town itself retains its relaxed surfer heritage and has some excellent restaurants where you can sample the local seafood."
My Favourite Accommodation
"I only realised the enormity of the Alaskan wilderness when I flew into Winterlake Lodge from Anchorage in Alaska.
It is hard to believe that the Iditarod dog sled takes place across this vast area of forest and lakes with its first check point being the beautiful Winterlake Lodge. In the summer it plays host to a wilderness playground of glaciers, rivers, lakes and forest trails.
Carl and Kirsten Dixon make everyone feel at home with their warm welcome and fantastic cooking. Considering its location, I was astounded by the gourmet meals that her daughter Mandy produced from the kitchen.
Nothing is impossible at the lodge. You can choose to charter the helicopter for a float trip or glacier hike, canoe on one of the many lakes, visit their own team of husky dogs or take a cooking lesson with Kirsten who has published several cookery books.
Aside from all this, the one thing that really drew me to the lodge was the staff who make everyone feel welcome."