The nominations are in and now it’s your chance to decide who deserves to be crowned the winners of the 2015 Wilderness Outdoor Awards. New to this year is the Outdoor Hero Award. And we think you’ll agree, the story of each finalist is inspiring indeed. The winners of the 2015 Wilderness Outdoor Awards will be announced in the April issue.
Independent retailer of the year nominees
Kiwi Outdoors, New Plymouth
Living Simply, Auckland
Rollos Outdoors, Nelson
Small Planet Sports, Queenstown
Trek n Travel, Hamilton
Chain retailer of the year nominees
Hunting & Fishing
Web store of the year nominees
Brand of the year nominees
Earth Sea Sky
The North Face
Outdoor hero of the year nominees
Anja has been nominated by a number of people for her services to women in the outdoors. She has spent the past 13 years running courses for women in her Tauranga community in the likes of bushcraft, map reading and first aid, giving them the confidence to head into the great outdoors. She also takes groups of women out on adventures, many of whom have become avid trampers. Nominees referred to her as their ‘outdoors angel’ and ‘a legend’.
“It’s so rewarding to meet people from all walks of life, of all ages, to see them challenge themselves,” said Anja. ”And you might meet them again later and they are still out there tramping, or they have walked the Te Araroa Trail, or have conquered their fear of heights.”
Barbara and Neill Simpson
Barbara and her husband Neill set up the Wakatipu Reforestation Trust following nearly 20 years of planting Lake Wakatipu’s Pigeon Island that had suffered two serious fires destroying some of the native vegetation. But with planting now virtually finished, the couple is focussing on restoring native plant communities to parts of the Wakatipu basin, such as the Kelvin Peninsula where their new community plant nursery was opened in 2014. Since 1996, 40,000 plants have been planted thanks to the project.
“We are both passionate about improving the native biodiversity in the Wakatipu,” said Barbara. “We want to increase the native bird and insect life in the area.”
At just 18 years of age, Brando committed 18 months of his life to walking, climbing, swimming and packrafting 8000km around New Zealand’s coastline. He overcame six near-death experiences to complete the improbable task raising funds for Ronald McDonald House. He took on the challenge to change the course of his life for the better and to show youngsters facing problems that they can do amazing things.
“It’s a real honour to be nominated and while my journey was a huge physical challenge, I miss it every day and always try to keep following my dreams and have adventures in my life.
Frank King and Honora Renwick
Frank and Honora may be familiar names to those who read visitor books in huts and bivs in Canterbury and the West Coast. The two work tirelessly to maintain tracks, huts and bivvies in the more remote regions, making them more accessible to those who venture a little further into the wilderness. They began by looking after huts in Arthur’s Pass 20 years ago and became hooked, not for praise or money, but for a love of the outdoors. “Our real goal,” said Frank, “has been the hope that others might want to share the extra pleasure that we get from looking after our fantastic outdoor recreation. The amazing thing is, it seems to be taking off around us. Maybe soon, every ‘non-maintained’ track and hut will have its own little group of minders.”
It’s hard to imagine just how extraordinary Guy’s ascent of the east face of Popes Nose, 2700m, was in July last year. The summit had only been climbed in winter once before, but the climbers had been flown to the base and out from the summit by helicopter. This was seen as a benchmark for difficult winter alpinism. But McKinnon had a five-day walk-in and he walked out again. Kester Brown, editor of NZAC journal The Climber, called it the “finest alpine achievement of New Zealand’s modern era”.
Guy said his experiences in alpinism have taught him that the average person can do amazing things if they are prepared to dream and work hard. “In the age of the scientifically trained and sponsored corporate athlete, my message is that heroism, excellence and achievement in any sphere can and should be reclaimed by the common man.”
Mal, one of NZ’s best known trail runners, has been nominated as much for his charity fundraising as for his terrific achievements on the trail. On February 8, he began his High 5-0 challenge, running 50 off-road mountain marathons in 50 days raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Mental Health Foundation of NZ. He has previously helped raise more than $200,000 for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer NZ. One person said they nominated Mal “for motivating me to improve my mental health”.
Mal is just doing what he loves: “I find it so rewarding to do what I love, not just for a selfish pursuit, but in a way that contributes to wider society.”
A number of people have completed the Te Araroa Trail in the past 12 months – but only one in sandals. Naresh’s feat (and feet) captured the public’s imagination, especially as he completed the trail in under 90 days, raising money for TEAR Fund, fighting human trafficking. ‘He is an outstanding example of a person who doesn’t give up,’ said one nominator.
“I dreamt big and went after my dreams,” said Naresh. “With outstanding love, support and help from my trail angels, I could achieve my dream.”
Science teacher Tim Kelly has been nominated by students and staff at Hurunui College, Hawarden, Canterbury, for the hours he spends organising trips and events up Nina Valley in Lewis Pass. Tim runs the valley’s restoration group, setting traps and helping to bring back the likes of whio, kiwi, kea, kaka and geckos. Since 2009 the group has created over 20km of trapping lines and has released 10 great spotted kiwi into the valley with another 30 being released over the next two years. “This project is totally voluntary for the kids,” said Tim. “They continue to amaze with their dedication and ability and we always have a hardcore crew of regulars who rarely miss a trip.”