Following university Helen undertook her first round the world trip taking in India, New Zealand, Australia and Indonesia. She settled back in London and decided to combine her love of travel and interest in the environment by completing an MSc in Tourism, Conservation and Sustainable Development. Helen went on to work in arts development in London but always felt that she wanted to expand on her original three month stay in New Zealand, so in 2005 headed off for a working holiday. She spent two years in New Zealand working, travelling and rediscovering her love of outdoor pursuits against the backdrop of the Southern Alps. Since starting at Audley Travel she has visited Fiji and the Cook Islands, and has more recently been to Canada to meet some of our preferred accommodation providers and try out a few of our recommended excursions.
My Most Memorable Experience
"Whilst exploring the North Island some people I met recommended visiting Lake Waikaremoana in Te Urewera National Park. Initially I wasn't sure if I had time to explore this area but once there ended up staying for four days at a campsite on the shores of the lake.
From here I enjoyed various walks through the native forest to hidden waterfalls, kayaking across the open water, and at the end of the day a swim in the crystal clear freshwater lake was the perfect antidote to sore muscles.
I sat and watched the sun set over the lake one evening and the complete peace and quiet was striking. It ended up being one of my favourite places in New Zealand."
My Favourite Destination
"Kaikoura is bordered by the ocean on one side and the Kaikoura Range mountains on the other which means whichever direction you look in you are faced with an iconic New Zealand landscape.
The plethora of marine life that inhabits the surrounding waters - whales, dolphins and seals - are the main reason people visit this town and indeed kayaking around the peninsula amongst the seals was one of my favourite excursions whilst here.
However it is also an extremely laid-back town with a number of boutique shops and wonderful walks in every direction. In particular a stroll over the headland affords you fantastic views along the coast and up to the snow-capped mountains."
My Favourite Accommodation
"It's very difficult to not feel welcome everywhere you go in New Zealand but Evergreen Lodge is the epitome of what Kiwi hospitality means.
The hosts there, Murray and Tish, have both spent many years working in the hospitality industry and have combined this with their own extensive travel experience and poured it, along with considerable thought and care, in to their beautiful property just outside Queenstown. Apart from the fact it has possibly one of the best views in area, overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the mountains beyond, the whole lodge reflects a fantastic attention to detail which means you can just relax and know that you are in good hands.
Just a few minutes in to Queenstown itself it is ideally located from which to explore this vibrant town, however you would also feel very comfortable whiling away some time in the guest lounge, or on the outside decking, just absorbing the breathtaking views."