Image of the October 2017 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
October 2017 Issue
Home / Articles / Outdoor Awards / 2017 Outdoor Awards

Bivouac Outdoor

Wayne Martin, center, with staff at Bivouac’s Tower Junction store in Christchurch. Bivouac won the Chain Retailer of the Year Award. Photo: Dennis Radermacher
Chain Retailer of the Year

A PHD in radioactive isotopes isn’t the standard route to a career in the outdoors, but for Bivouac Outdoor chief executive Wayne Martin, it provided the impetus to adventure into the wilderness.

Martin says he first became hooked by the backcountry while studying at Canterbury University, where he became a chemistry lecturer, and was even the radioactive safety officer for the university.

With a good job and long summer holidays, Martin got involved in tramping, climbing and became president of the university’s caving club.

But he says New Zealand’s nuclear free policy ended his future in the radiation field and after finishing his PHD, he went travelling.

When he returned to New Zealand he started guiding on Ruapehu, taught abseiling courses and worked part time at Auckland outdoor store Alp Sports, where he became a full-time manager.

When outdoor business mogul Bernard Wicht, who later co-founded Kathmandu, opened an Auckland outlet store for his outdoor clothing company, he asked Martin to manage it. The first Bivouac Outdoor store was born.

“He didn’t have retail experience, so he wanted me and a friend to run it,” says Martin.

The company soon expanded to be a general outdoor store and stopped manufacturing clothing. Martin has since bought out his partners to become the sole owner.

Although the business has grown to 11 stores nationwide, he says it still retains the ethos of a small company.

“People call us a chain, but we are more a combination of old-style tramping shops,” he says. “We have a lot more staff on the shop floor than our competitors.”

It’s the fourth time winning the Wilderness Outdoor Award, a record he puts down to focusing on customers who are “serious and enthusiastic about the outdoors”.

Support Wilderness

Since 1991, Wilderness has had one simple goal: to help Kiwis ‘See more, do more, live more’ of New Zealand.

If you value our mission, please consider subscribing. As a loyal supporter, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • New Zealand’s best outdoor journalism We’ve won multiple awards for our journalism and magazine production.
  • NZ’s best trips. Browse more than 610 trips with downloadable maps and route notes.
  • Trustworthy gear reviews. Each month we review gear we’ve been bashing and thrashing for months so you can determine if its worth your money.
  • Web exclusives. Each week we publish stories you won’t find in the magazine. View our latest web exclusives.
  • Member benefits. Our WildCard provides discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.
  • Your support goes a long way. Your subscription will help us fund NZ’s best outdoor journalists and writers and ensure Wilderness will be there to inspire the next generation of outdoor Kiwis.

A subscription costs as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.