One of the delightful aspects of getting around the traps is discovering people enjoy working for the Welcome Aboard companies. I enjoy the buzz of enthusiasm. It’s contagious. Recently I ventured to Thrillseekers Adventures located at the 125-year-old Waiau Ferry Bridge, nine kilometres short of Hanmer Springs Village. Neil Duncan heads a team of 10 involved in several adventure tourism activities. They all live at nearby Hanmer Springs. Some moved there so they could work at Thrillseekers Adventures.
If his staff is his first pride, his second is his OutdoorsMark certificate acknowledging safe practice at Thrillseekers Adventures. OutdoorsMark is a Government-run organisation doing safety audits throughout New Zealand. “It was quite a rigorous exercise,” Neil tells me. “The OutdoorsMark guys were here for a couple of days checking our systems and talking to staff to ensure everything stacked up. It was a huge achievement for us when we qualified earlier this year.” The certificate is regularly reviewed by OutdoorsMark to ensure operators such as Thrillseekers Adventures are, dare I say, up to the mark.”
Neil puts the success of Thrillseekers Adventures (apart from being a comfortable distance from shaky Christchurch) down to the variety of activities and they do not all provide an adrenalin rush. The Jet Boat trip is one of the longest in New Zealand, skimming 13km down the Waiau River. White Water Rafting is more of a scenic event and Quad Biking offers a fun ride through forest and riverside trails. Staff are multi-tasked. Neil has an additional skill, being a dab hand with the coffee machine. He pours me one of the best long blacks I’ve sipped in a long time.
He chats about the role of Adventure Tourism in the larger tourism picture.
“Many people travel to New Zealand for Adventure Tourism, having a go at things they often do not have the opportunity to do at home. Thrillseekers Adventures sits very well with the mix of activities operating under the Welcome Aboard brand.
And the company is excellent to work for he says. “The culture is do it properly or not at all.”