The results are in, and more than 2500 Wilderness readers have cast their vote on the best retailers, huts, and most inspirational outdoors enthusiasts in this year’s Outdoor Awards. In addition to the public vote, we recruited Jamie Fitzgerald and Lydia Bradey to help narrow down the awards for outdoor people of the year.
Without further ado, here’re the winners.
Brand of the year: Macpac
Alex Brandon, CEO of Macpac says company is honoured to have won. “We have a great team here at Macpac, working hard every day to make the best gear and to create the best customer experience, so to win such a prestigious award is very pleasing. From the whole team here, we’d like to thank Wilderness and the readers.”
Independent retailer: Small Planet Sports, Queenstown
Owner Darryl Tatum credits his store’s success to his knowledgeable sales team: “I feel that it’s something to be said for my fantastic staff – that’s what it’s all about,” said Tatum. “It’s the knowledge, and the interaction between them and the customers. Everyone who works here uses what they sell and can give first-hand information.”
Chain retailer : Bivouac Outdoors
Wayne Martin, CEO of Bivouac, says the store is “old school,” with the focus always on customer service. “I’ve been in outdoor retail for 30 years, and we are still more or less the way we were when we started.”
Online retailer Torpedo7
Pej Okhovat, CEO of Torpedo7 Group, says it’s been a busy year for Torpedo7, and that their website is absolutely key in communicating with customers. “Our social and community content has been a focus this year – sharing our love of the outdoors and information to assist the customer in planning and enjoying their outdoor activities,” Okhovat says.
Outdoor hero: Jaime Sharp
Jaime, 35, takes his adventures to extremes: in September 2015 he became one of the first to circumn avigate Svalbard Archipelago in Norway. The 2300km trip was six years in the making and took Sharp and his friends 71 days to complete. Sharp is also co-founder of World Wild Adventures, an adventure tourism company taking clients to Central and North America and Africa.
Jamie Fitzgerald: “Here in New Zealand we’re at the edge of the earth and our pioneering spirit has made us unafraid of taking on the big, exciting challenges – no matter how much preparation and hard work is required. The feat that Jaime and his team have completed is a demonstration of the courage and determination we want to see more of in our country.”
Young outdoor person, 12 and under: The Taylor triplets
These Northland triplets are a force to be reckoned with: at 12 years old, Aotea, Tainui and Tokomaru have completed countless tramping trips, numerous kayaking expeditions, and horse treks over the past five years. Their ulitmate goal is to walk the entire New Zealand coastline before they turn 14.
When the triplets heard that they’d won, they shared a quote that they say they’ve learnt in their many adventures: “Never, never, ever give up.”
Jamie Fitzgerald: “The most important part of enjoying the outdoors is being able to look after yourself. Aotea, Tainui and Tokomaru have demonstrated a huge amount of planning and skill-building to take on some exciting challenges. Keep it up!”
Lydia Bradey: “The triplets have identified a goal that is a single concrete achievement that they have to work at over time. There is no instant reward. This is inspirational!”
Young outdoor person, aged 13-17: Josh Cornah
At just 15, Josh Cornah is regarded as one of New Zealand’s up and coming rock climbers. He was nominated for his climbing accomplishments both at home and internationally.
Cornah is also one of just a handful of Kiwi climbers to have completed one of the highest grade sport routes in the country, the grade 33 Colossus in Fiordland.
Jamie Fitzgerald: “Josh’s commitment to his sport has earned him praise and admiration from plenty of his peers. I predict we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the future.”
Lydia Bradey: “I chose Josh because his life involves training – he’s working towards a goal and his achievements already are at international level. It’s climbers like Josh who will bring the level of climbing in New Zealand to an international standard.”
Hut of the year: Ivory Lake Hut
Ivory Lake Hut is perched on the smooth rocky shores of Ivory Lake, high in the Waitaha River area of the West Coast. Built in the 1970s for hydrology and glacier research, the hut is a throwback to the simpler times of alpine exploration. Its furnishings are sparse, with just six bunks, a large dining table and a cooking alcove.
DOC Ranger Ted Brennan says it receives less than 100 visitors a year. One of his favorite elements of the hut is a three-legged chair that can be taken outside to enjoy the view. “Ivory Lake Hut is a must-do for the extreme tramper, because it’s certainly a journey to get there,” Brennan said. Most people access the hut by traveling up the Waitaha Valley, a tramp that takes roughly 2-3 days in good weather.