Group of people walking on sand dune

Meet the Team

Through out your Hollyford Wilderness Experience you will get to know our team; made up of passionate knowledgeable guides, welcoming lodge hosts, expert jet boat drivers and our professional helicopter pilots. Our highly experienced team live and breathe the Hollyford, and they love to share their incredible depth of knowledge with guests along the way.

All experts in their respective fields, our team are all inspiring story tellers who create a wonderful sense of place with their knowledge of the natural environment, history and geography. With 2 guides to a maximum group size of 16, they are able to deliver an unrivalled level of individualised interpretation and guiding.

The Hollyford Wilderness Experience is a wonderful way to explore the very essence of New Zealand's wilderness.  

 

Layla: Kaiārahi, Track Guide 

Layla was inspired to join the Hollyford Track Team because of her whakapapa connections to this incredible place. She has whakapapa to Kāti Mahaki, from Makaawhio and is a direct descendant of Chief Tūtoko, which makes guiding and being able to share stories from her takiwā even more special. .  She became connected to Whakatipu Waitai/Hollyford through ‘Te Ara Whakatipu’, a Ngāi Tahu rangatahi connection program and this provided a pathway to work for Ngāi Tahu Tourism.

She has worked this past season as a lead guide and has found it to be a very rewarding experience. Connecting manuhiri with each other and to the whenua, through storytelling and manaaki has been one of her favourite parts of the job. Layla is a lover of traveller who embraces adventures and immersing herself in different cultures. She has held a range of jobs from working in early childhood, to being a superstar hops harvester.

Layla believes the Hollyford is an incredibly unique place; the rich heritage and diversity of the area allows for constant growth and learnings. Being able to weave together all these things makes guiding in the valley an absolute privilege and a pleasure! ‘

Shonagh: Kaiārahi, Track Guide

Shonagh's background is as both a luxury lodge and cafe owner. Her main long term sporting passion remains exploring mountain wilderness, often competing in the rather extreme endurance sport of "adventure racing."  She feels being a lead guide for Hollyford Wilderness Experience perfectly blends her hosting and outdoor skills, and she takes huge pride in passionately delivering the best possible experience for her manuhiri.

Flora, fauna and the significant cultural heritage of the area are sources of continued fascination to Shonagh. She has fully immersed herself in a never-ending quest for greater knowledge in these areas and takes great delight in enthusiastically sharing her kōrero.

Shonagh feels privileged and grateful to work in such a pristine corner of Aotearoa and has been captivated by the beauty and magic of the Hollyford valley. "It has well and truly got under my skin" she says.

 

Jack: Kaiārahi, Track Guide 

Known fondly by the team as Inanga (whitebait) Jack, he was brought up and raised in the Whakatipu area and has spent a lot of his upbringing in the Fiordland area.

In the words of Jack, “As someone with the nickname Inanga, I guide very similarly to my name. When you come on a trip with me, I do my best to guide you safely around the hazards and nets and take you to a rich romantic spawning ground where we are taken care of in our beautiful lodges. By the time you leave, you will have grown bigger from all of the food and knowledge, before departing our adventure as a grown kokopu, where you can retire back home and reflect on this memory.”

Suzanne: Kaiārahi, Track Guide

Suzanne is a key member of our expert Hollyford guiding team. Guiding for her comes from the culmination of passions and skills built up over her lifetime. She loves to share and enhance the journey for our guests, with her intimate knowledge of history, botany, geology and wildlife.

As Suzanne puts it, no two trips are the same. Each group of guests, guides and hosts make for a dynamic and fascinating journey with lots of great conversation along the way. A couple of her many trip highlights include the heart stopping podocarp forest filled with bird life, seeing Lake Alabaster in the morning light and heading down the sand dunes at Martins Bay to discover what the landscape has instore for today. 

 

Robyn: Kaiārahi, Track Guide 

Robyn is one of our passionate track guides who loves wowing guests by introducing them to the incredible flora and fauna the Hollyford Valley is renowned for.

A few of her experience highlights include, witnessing the movie magic of the hidden falls, the morning mist rising on Lake Wāwahi Waka, jet boating along the Hollyford River as the whio (blue duck) fly by, dreaming of climbing the ancient Rimu within the podocarp forest and walking among the presence of the tīpuna (ancestors) on the Martins Bay sandspit.

Bethany: Kaiwhakarite Ratoka Kiritaki, Customer Services Co-Ordinator

The first person you usually meet on your Hollyford Wilderness Experience is Bethany. She is our Reservations Queen! You will most likely have a chat with Bethany on the phone or via email when you are booking your trip. She is a guest favourite, going the extra mile to make sure you have a fabulous trip and are well prepared.

Bethany is a Fiordland local born and bred in Te Anau where her whānau are also based. She loves to travel, experience new places and get into the outdoors as much as possible.

If you happen to pop into the office, you might even get to see her handsome dog, Ziggy. He loves to sneak into the office sometimes.

 

Toni: Ratoka Kiritaki, Customer Services & Administration Coordinator

Toni is one of our helpful team members at the end of the phone or email as well as taking care of admin behind the scenes. Never a dull moment with Toni in the office, she keeps the rest of the staff entertained and makes sure no one goes hungry.

Caring and generous to a tee, Toni puts others first and is very involved in the local Te Anau community. She is always up for adventures and long lunches. What would we do without Toni!

Becs: Kaitaki Kaiārahi, Guide Manager

Becs is a Southland local, who’s travelled extensively and experienced a wide range of job roles over the years, from school teacher, café owner, youth worker to nature guide. As a Hollyford Wilderness Experience guide, Becs loves to bring the outdoors to life and share the stories of the area that inspire a special sense of connection for our manuhiri (guests).

Becs loves the privilege of helping shape a team to bring their passion for the outdoors and people together to create a world class experience for manuhiri. (She also provides the well-loved office dog – Revy).

Wayne: Manuhiri Kaiwhakahaere, Hospitality Manager

Wayne is the hospitality manager who has the privilege of looking after our two remote lodges and an incredible team of hosts. He has a passion for the outdoors and loves nothing more than chasing world class backcountry trout on the fly or snowboarding with friends at the club fields.  He has travelled extensively chasing snow and cultural experiences and feels very fortunate to call Aotearoa home.

Wayne spent 15 years working in the outdoor industry ‘selling fun for a living’ before moving into tourism, managing an award-winning rental car company, and then guiding through Abel Tasman and Kahurangi National Parks in Whakatū Nelson.

Wayne loves working in the Hollyford, being immersed in nature, and helping shape a team that gives our manuhiri the best experience!

Crystal: Tumu, Customer Services Manager

Crystal is a keen walker and has previously guided on the Hollyford Track. These days she looks after all things ‘office’. Crystal is a fan of a good spreadsheet and is our cool, calm, and collected office guru and Customer Services Manager! 

She can safely navigate anything tricky that comes up with our reservations, payroll and general administration work and usually does it with her magic smile.

 

Fred, Andy & Cam: Coach Drivers

Often your first on-the-ground contact will be with our jovial coach driving team - Fred, Andy and Cam.

Fred, a local Te Anau lad, gave up the tool belt to follow his father’s footsteps (a few decades on) driving for Hollyford Valley Walks in 2021. Andy is our Belgium import who (ironically) also made a recent career change from building to join our team and we haven't wiped the smile off his face since.

Cameron is a Hollyford lifer who has been with Hollyford Valley Walks since 2013 in the various roles of guide, coach driver and operations coordinator. These days most of his magic is behind the scenes, though you may be fortunate enough to have Cam entertain you on your coach journey in/out of the valley. 

Tom: Jet Boat Driver

Tom is a born and bred Southland lad who has the gift of being able to connect with people of all ages and stages. He joined us in 2023 as one of our Jet Boat Drivers.

Tom expertly navigates manuhiri (guests) safely along Whakatipu Ka Tuku (Hollyford River) and Whakatipu Waitai (Lake McKerrow) whilst sharing yarns of the area. Tom is known for having a soft spot for his pet deer in the valley!

 

Hollyford jamestown guide talking