Sharing Fiordland’s Great Outdoors – Our Story
When you live in a place like Te Anau, it’s hard not to get excited about what we’ve got right on our doorstep. Heaps of our landscapes look like a ‘land before time’ – they haven’t changed in years – and for us and our team, getting out amongst them fishing, hunting and hiking has always been a top priority. So much of a priority for Mark, in fact, that he would skip the odd day of school as a youngster and head down to the river instead!
How it all started
As a result, Mark was always pretty keen to be a guide from the get-go – what could be better than getting paid to fish and show visitors some of the most impressive places in Fiordland all day? But there were a bunch of other things that life had in store first. A few years ago, Mark was working overseas as a skipper undertaking seismic surveys and some friends he worked with came to visit, so we took them fishing. They told us what a gem of a place we lived in, and why on earth was Mark working overseas when he could working as a fly fishing guide in Fiordland. And the rest is history!
Getting off the ground
Starting a Fiordland fishing & guiding business from nothing is hard work, and there was a heap of red tape we had to get through to get going. But getting there was always heaps of fun, too – the thought of running a business and guiding in such a beautiful place kept us keen! We decided to have a boat tailor-made for fly fishing on the Waiau; and while this was pretty expensive, we made it happen because we knew how much more comfortable and fun it would make the experience for guests. Initially it was a bit of a challenge for Mark to balance the guiding, develop the business and continue with his day job, which was – by that time – cray fishing in Doubtful Sound. We were fortunate to cross paths with some amazing people, who came on board pretty early on – Ken Mitchell and Shaun Bilham have been guiding with us since pretty much the start, and Dion Halmshaw has joined the team in the 16/17 season.
From one boat to four, then a brand new base!
Mark always jokes that he ‘only wanted a new boat, but Christine made him turn it into a proper guiding business’ – ha, ha! In part, it’s probably true. But Mark reckons he’s pretty stoked that he went along with his wife, because now he’s ended up with four! Initially, we kept up with demand by adding the Fiordland Water Taxi to our collection, which connects hikers to the Milford Track and keen fly fishermen access the back country wilderness fishing off lake Te Anau. We also added a brand new, custom-built 6 seater jet boat so that we can get larger fishing groups out on the water.
Now that had 3 vessels we had outgrown our back yard and we really needed somewhere to house them all – so we decided to build a proper base just on the outskirts of Te Anau. It means we can offer a convenient and comfortable experience from start to finish for our clients. Meet us at our base, leave your vehicle there and if you have been away back country, grab a coffee, have a yarn with us and enjoy hot shower before hitting the road.
Our latest move
In March 2018, we were lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to purchase the existing Kepler Water Taxi from Steve & Dale Saunders. This family business run for 25 years is the perfect fit for our family business and we are very excited to now be able to offer Kepler Track transport and a few more exciting trips, plus of course now own 4 boats which Mark is very excited about!
The future is exciting for us, we have a great range of trips to showcase Fiordland, great people to do it and of course, you can’t beat our landscape.
See you out on the water!
Mark, Christine & the team