Wanaka businessmen Doug Beech and Will Radford are realising lofty aspirations developed through their shared passion for the outdoors.
In April, the men bought Wanaka guiding company Aspiring Guides, previously operated by veteran mountain guide Whitney Thurlow.
For the past few months, the new owner-operators have been on a whirlwind journey of planning new strategies and operations.
Next month, their newly formed guiding team will begin making fresh tracks in the South Island wilderness, starting with an avalanche safety course on July 1.
It’s an exciting time for the company, which has been waiting for an upturn in guiding business since the Covid pandemic forced several tourism businesses into hibernation.
‘‘All the effort put in over the last three years, we want to respect that,’’ Mr Radford said of the efforts Mr Thurlow and other tourism businesses made to hunker down and survive the Covid-19 economic climate.
‘‘Tourism is returning. A lot of energy has gone into bringing things back to life in Wanaka.’’ Mr Beech, a former ski industry worker formerly from Hawke’s Bay, permanently settled in Wanaka in 2010. The married father of two sons went on to work nine years as an operations manager and head guide on Minaret Station.
He also worked as a predator controller for Matukituki Natives, and is proud of the Roys Peninsula community’s efforts to reduce the predator population over time.
Mr Radford previously lived in Christchurch and worked in the apparel industry, in marketing, strategy and management roles.
He also operates a company called Honey Sticks, which makes food-grade beeswax products.
When Mr Radford first arrived in Wanaka in 2019 with his wife and four daughters, they settled into a home on the same street as Mr Beech and his family.
The families quickly became firm friends and realised they shared the same energy and enthusiasm for business, resulting in their decision to pick up Aspiring Guides and run with it.
Mr Beech classifies himself as a recreational climber and has climbed Mt Aspiring/ Tititea.
However, his role would not be to guide. A team of trained and experienced guides would be looking after clients.
The operations manager is Dan Phillips and the chief guide is Andy Cole.
Australian Kim Lagides — a guest speaker at this weekend’s New Zealand Mountain Film and Book Festival, and one of the stars in award-winning film Changabang: Return to the Shining Mountain — is among the many qualified or aspirant guides contracted to the outfit this winter.
Aspiring Guides would take small steps to build up over the winter, before offering a wider range of activities in the peak summer season.
The company was founded in 1990 and later incorporated another Wanaka business, Wild Walks.
It was an established guiding brand with ‘‘massive history’’, Mr Radford said.
They were delighted and excited the business was back on track to getting people into the backcountry again.
Mr Beech said also he wanted to work with the youth community and front foot regenerative tourism.
‘‘It is are not just about planting trees, but giving back to people. I am working on that in the background at the moment,’’ he said.
About 15 guides would be in the guiding pool this season, and another three or four people in the office-based team.
Training pathways and mentoring would be provided for guides wanting to complete qualifications.
The business remains in its McDougall St premises.