In 2013 we welcome new guest guides Bruce Plested, Janet Hunt, Rosie Walford, Helen Elscot, Wayne Carlson, Sonya Veldhuizen, Chris Palmer, Barbara Disley, Gavin Oliver and Jeremy Zinzan.
All our guides and walking ambassadors are volunteers and either live and work on Waiheke Island or they have a close affiliation to and love for the island.
To help them seem familiar when you meet them here is a little bit about each of them and a photo (photos will be posted as soon as we can persuade these shy people to hand them over!).
The Auckland Council
A huge thanks to Auckland Council which is supporting the festival in a number of ways including supplying some of our busiest guides.
Gary Wilton – Gary is the Parks Advisor for the Hauraki Gulf. He says it wasn’t the beaches or the vineyards that brought him to Waiheke, it was the opportunity to run on a different trail each morning! Brought up in an idyllic valley in England’s Peak District, he loves hills and if they lead to the sea, all the better. When he got the chance to manage Waiheke’s parks, reserves and walkways in 2005 he jumped at the chance and has relished the opportunity to improve, extend and enjoy Waiheke’s 75km of public walkways. After six years he still can’t believe he gets paid for what really is a ‘walk in the park’.
What he really likes about the Waiheke Walking Festival is the chance to be around satisfied customers. To pass on his enthusiasm and to see the joy that others get from walking the tracks, hearing the stories and seeing something special for the first time.
You will know Gary by his loud voice, his lanky gait and his keen eye for the special, the unique and the quirky. Ask him anything about Waiheke and he’ll do his best to tell a tale…
Sonya Veldhuizen- Welcome to the Treasure Islands! This is what attracted Sonya to her role as Hauraki Gulf Islands Park Ranger and her passion for conservation on the offshore islands. Proximity to Auckland means these treasures are accessible to all and provide a fantastic opportunity for people to learn about conservation and have close encounters with the threatened species that are currently being released on our pest free islands in the gulf. She believes that bringing people into special places provides more understanding and greater value of conservation land. Waiheke Walking Festival will leave you wanting more. Sonya is also an artist who finds endless inspiration in nature and its perfection, from the geometrical alignment of the kina to the magnificent orca pods as they trawl the shore line is search of the graceful manta ray. These are the moments that take your breath away, the witnessing of magic. So get out in the islands, get connected, enjoy the magic and meet some new people.
Whakanewha Regional Park is managed by Auckland Council’s Regional and Specialist Park Unit and its park rangers Dan Beauchamp and Beatty Wiggenhauser work together, along with a multitude of dedicated volunteers and contractors in maintaining and developing this unique piece of Waiheke Island. Beatty and Dan are keen to share their enthusiasm of the park, showcasing the newly upgraded Tarata Track with its fine collection of mature native broadleaf trees and great views of the park and inner gulf. They report into Wayne Carlson.
Wayne Carlson – A park ranger for over 20 years, Wayne has been working as a recreation and education ranger in Auckland’s regional parks since 2007. Wayne believes that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. His favorite book is Richard Louv’s “Last child in the Woods” which explores the staggering divide between today’s children and the outdoors; the lack of nature in today’s wired generation and rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.
Dan Beachamp has lived on Waiheke and worked at Whakanewha since 2000 and is responsible for track maintenance, weed control and revegetation. He loves the diversity that Whakanewha offers to islanders and visitors, from meandering bush trails and sweeping beaches to the way emerging native trees are slowly succeeding the scarring of weeds.Dan will offer the visitor experiences that they will find nowhere else on Waiheke, and inform you of the dramatic changes in the park following its purchase, the removal of cattle and the parks ability to regenerate itself following intensive weed control programmes, which are still occurring today.
Beatty Wiggenhauser – with a background in environmental management, Beatty is responsible for pest control and providing a safe habitat for the endangered New Zealand dotterel breeding on the Whakanewha foreshore. She is excited that recent surveys show large numbers of forest and green geckos in the park. Beatty is also in responsible for the Poukaraka Flats Campground, which has previously been acknowledged as one of New Zealand’s Top 10 camping locations. Beatty enjoys seeing people walking, cycling or kayaking to Poukaraka Flats and has been active in getting more schools involved in the park.
Deryn Dromgoole – Bio Security Officer on Waiheke -
Janine James – Janine is our Dora the Explorer, she loves exploring the outdoor world and has been sharing her passsion with walkers for the past 20 years. She regularly leads walks on Waiheke throughout the summer months. Janine always knew she would be a park ranger so clocked up many hours hounding people about local history, native plants, their uses and identifying birdlife. After doing her degree in Parks and Recreation Management she worked as a wilderness guide in USA before heading home to work as a Park Ranger for Auckland Regional Council.
A major mountain biking accident in 2002 slowed her down a bit, she left her job with council and, as she puts it, semi-retired to Waiheke, but this opened up the opportunity to develop her photography skills which she will share on one of her guided walks during the festival.
Janine is also a great storyteller and has a positive cornucopia of knowledge to call upon. From the quirky to the serious your walk will be a process of discovery, you won’t go home without taking a piece of Waiheke with you!
Rosie Walford – through her company The Big Stretch, has been teaching creative problem solving and leading creative journeys in the wilderness for 12 years, worldwide.
If you arrive on her walk with a question that needs some original perspectives, Rosie will open up all your senses, inviting you to scrutinise the trail’s varied bush, beaches, cliffs & vineyards in new ways. You will be using the language of biology and the design principles of nature as analogies. Applying those principles back to thorny individual problems as you walk, innovative lateral ideas will suddenly occur
Bruce Plested- Rorohara (Pie Melon Bay) and ‘what we stand for’. In Bruce’s own words -’to continue to create a pristine natural and farming environment for the benefit of nature and mankind in general, and those authorised to experience visiting the area. When I stood for the first time on Pie Melon Bay and swam in the surf, my life-long dull yearning for the place became a compelling passion. I remember the day as if it was this morning, the track through the kikuyu grass to the beach, the tumbling but safe feeling surf, the clarity of the water, the abundant tuatua, the beauty of the landform from the sea and also the visible neglect and damage done to the land by perhaps all of its previous inhabitants. Huge Pohutukawa stood dead and leafless from aerial weedspraying, gorse and flannel weed was widesprea and, in the ten acre patch of Kanuka above the house, the only other native trees visible were one Pohutukawa and one Puriri. It reminded me, and I still think of it as a beautiful child yet to fully develop.
We have set out at Pie Melon Bay to nurture the land back into not only a productive profitable farm, but also to return the most neglected and marginal parts back to native forest, and to connect the various patches of established native bush, also by native planting.
As our spiritual feeling for Pie Melon Bay developed, the desire to know more of its history has grown. Why are there kumara pits on the tops of some hills, was there a fortification at the eastern end of the beach, who built the road to the house, why were there few boundary fences and no water troughs for the animals, and how did it get that awful name?’
Chris Palmer- Chris has been an island resident for 20 years and is probably best known for his previous career as a local real estate agent. What might not be so well known is his passion for the environment (which was his attraction to Waiheke like it is for so many others). He joined Forest & Bird Society at age 13 and was a campaign-organiser in Australia for Greenpeace in the 1980s anti-nuclear and disarmament protests. Chris is the current chairman of the Hauraki Gulf Conservation Trust, is an avid walker and is keen to promote the Hauraki Gulf as the ultimate environment in which to live and work.
Kate Hastings- has lived on the Island for 15 years and has a longterm interest in houses and their history. She lives in a renovated cottage built in the 1930s overlooking Oneroa Beach. Fascinated with the “yarns” about families who have come and sometimes gone, their homes, their lives, their businesses, Kate is looking forward to recounting the knowledge she has gleaned.
Gavin Oliver – originally from the UK Gavin decided to swap boardrooms for boardwalks and ditched his corporate career in London for a more outdoor-oriented one with his wife and young family in Godzone. Starting his new life in NZ as a tour operator, he’s recently joined forces with one of our other guides to launch EcoZip Adventures, a flying fox and guided bush hike experience here on Waiheke Island. A keen tramper and amateur naturalist, Gavin describes his greatest pleasure as showing folks around his home.
Jeremy Zinzan – a founder of Waiheke’s latest tourism venture, EcoZip Adventures, Jeremy’s passion lies in enthusing people to get away from whatever screen they usually spend far too much of their day in front of and out into New Zealand’s stunning natural environment.
What he may lack in flora and fauna species identification skills (!), Jeremy makes up for in his enthusiasm for embracing the outdoors.
Helen Elscot – lives on Waiheke and runs a naturopathic clinic, Herbal Health Waiheke, in the heart of Oneroa. She is currently the health columnist for local papers Gulf News and Weekender and is a freelance writer for Woman’s Day, NZ Fitness and Avena magazine as well as hosting a wellness radio show on Radio Waiheke.
She holds workshops on the island and around New Zealand teaching participants how to identify weeds, plants and flowers which have medicinal properties and how to use them to make digestive tonics, herbal creams and syrups, lip balms and natural cosmetics.
Janet Hunt – Janet lived near the Okahuiti wetland for ten years during which there was scarcely a day when she didn’t walk around some part of it. When a group of Waihekeans came together to form the Waiheke Island Wetland Initiative (or WIWI) in 2005, this was one of the first wetlands they visited. Janet has always found it an area of great beauty, a place of forever-changing light and mood, bright with the green of spring, golden in summer and colourful in autumn, mysterious in mist, ethereal in frost and always an inspiration when she was working on her award-winning book, Wetlands of New Zealand: a bitter-sweet story
Barnett Bond - A local GP, Barnett is also Miro Vineyard owner and wine-maker. His Madame-Rouge is justly award-winning and famous. Well-known locally as ‘that bloke who regularly swims (or used to) the length of Onetangi Beach and back, Barnett and his wife Cat Vosper have thrown their support behind the Walking Festival as they are keen to promote exercise for health and leisure. Who better than Barnett to guide you through Waiheke vineyard country on the ‘Madame-Rouge Walk’.
Paul Monin – ‘Secret Life of Matiatia’. Well-known historian, Paul Monin, lives on Waiheke Island and has a wealth of knowledge. Two years ago he shared his research of the History of the Southern Bays, this year be prepared to be surprised.
June Stevenson – June is INWA® certified Nordic Walking national coach (NZ), a Master Instructor and REPs Personal Trainer. Although she lives in Auckland she finds herself drawn back to Waiheke over and over. Poles in hand she can be seen striding along Waiheke’s walkways all through the year, she has generously volunteered her time to lead all three trial sessions and the expert session Nordic Walking.
Forest & Bird Guides- Brian and Lincoln
Brian Griffiths – Brian has been Ranger for the Onetangi Reserve since 2000 and is currently engaged in a major upgrade of the reserve track network. He has also been the F&B Hauraki Islands Branch Chairman since 2006. Brian is a strong supporter of the Waiheke Walking Tracks initiatives and advocates the strengthening of the ecological corridors on the island.
Lincoln Jackson – Lincoln is Ranger for Te Haahi Goodwin Reserve at the Orapiu end of Waiheke Island. He started his involvement with F&B in 2005, working in the Atawhai Whenua Reserve with the late Don Chapple. Since that time he has worked in all three Waiheke reserves and has a special talent for growing young native trees. He says his favourite food is shepherds pie and he can eat vast amounts of it!
Ann Brown – Organising sports events on Waiheke Island means Ann Brown pursues her dream job in paradise. While living in the USA, Ann led youth programmes, co-founded a cancer wellness charity and organised fundraising events for various community organisations. That commitment of contributing to the wellbeing of communities is reflected in Ann’s ongoing volunteer involvement in Waiheke’s signature running event – Fullers Wharf2 Wharf and her membership of Waiheke’s Rotary Club. As owner of Grazed Knees Events, Ann envisions the growth of running and adventure races on the Island as a means of encouraging locals and visitors alike to sustain their own health and wellbeing. She says, ‘the Grazed Knees 10K Trail Run through Whakenewha Regional Park provides a perfect setting for people to enjoy beautiful surroundings, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, while exercising. In other words, a dream day in paradise. What could be more perfect than that!’
Sarah Gloyer – has been a fitness instructor and Personal Trainer for 27 plus years. She has qualifications in Sport and Recreation and in Human Performance. Growing up in Canada meant a lot of time playing outside. She loves seeing people get ‘just a little out of their comfort zone’ and shares her love of adventure racing with any willing clients. ‘Seeing the pure joy people get from connecting to the outdoors is a reward in itself’, she says.
Barbara Wilkinson – Last year Barbara and Elvis, her four-legged friend, developed the ‘Doggy Delights‘ guided walks for dogs. Barbara and the Waiheke Dog Owners Group were instrumental in getting agreement from Auckland Council that certain beaches on Waiheke be dog-friendly all year round and currently she is working on ‘Dogs are Okay’ – a safety around dogs guide. That is Onetangi beach in the background.
Sue Biggs – is a keen member of the Studio Saturday morning walking group instigated and led by Sarah Gloyer. The walking group is an enthusiastic collection of people who have covered many Waiheke tracks and each Saturday there’s always a great view to take in, amazing bush landscapes, new experiences along the way and great camaraderie. Sue is looking forward to sharing one of her favourite walking tracks with you on our Island paradise as she leads the ‘Friends of Dorothy Walk’.
Peter Lumsden -
Paul Walden -
The Walking Ambassadors
Our ambasadors are a wonderful bunch of volunteers who will ‘meet and greet’ our visitors, act as ‘tail-end-charlies’ on the walks, answer your questions, hold the First Aid Kit (supplied by St John) and be on hand at our ‘headquarters’ (very interesting caravan) at Matiatia wharf to sell Festival postcards ($2 each and 3 for $5) and Festival badges at $2 each.
Ambassadors will be wearing green t shirts, black caps and sporting the ‘Ask Me About the Walking Festival’ badge.