Our guides' experience, dedication, and enthusiasm make them ideal ambassadors for your destination. They chart the course, finesse the details, and speak the language (English, as well as the local language). They also possess a truly rare skill, knowing when to let serendipity and inspiration take the lead.
Peter Bersani is originally from Boston, but has made his home in New Zealand for more than 25 years. An avid outdoorsman who enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and skiing, he loves leading visitors on the many hiking trails of the South Island. Also a trained chef and winemaker, he is eager to introduce the excellent products of his adopted country to others, from craft beers to contemporary New Zealand art.
Rene Schwaller moved to Queenstown from Switzerland in the 1980’s and was a pioneer heli-ski and rafting guide. He then brought the first paragliders into New Zealand and manufactured his own brand of glider – Renegade! Rene spreads his time between leading hiking and cycling tours and working as a tandem paragliding pilot in the summer and heli-skiing in the winter. Rene’s long history of adventuring in New Zealand means he is often running into friends who are local characters during his travels.
Having grown up on a farm in the North Island, Vanessa Wards, or Ness, loves all things involving the outdoors, including many adventure sports common in New Zealand. After completing a degree in Sport and Recreation Management at the Auckland University of Technology, she went on to work in an array of occupations before a love of travel and adventure took her across the globe, visiting Ireland, France, Germany, Sweden, and Morocco, among other places. Upon returning to New Zealand, she has been able to share her passion for introducing the scenic landscapes of the South Island by guiding adventures throughout her home country.
Having spent his whole life on South Island, Tom Ives is a passionate outdoorsman and naturalist. With roots in both Nelson and Central Otago, he grew up enjoying tramping adventures and ski trips with his family and went on to become an avid white-water kayaker and rock climber. Tom majored in botany at Otago University, where he spent many days exploring the rugged coastline of the East Coast. From there, he became a guide on the spectacular Hollyford Track and aboard a boat leading ecological tours of Fiordland and Stewart Island. Tom’s affinity with the outdoors and extensive knowledge of South Island’s flora and fauna make him a fantastic ambassador for his native country.
Raised on a sheep and cattle farm on New Zealand’s South Island, Brenda George began her guiding career working as a trekking guide on the Routeburn Track while attending Lincoln University. Following graduation, Brenda moved to the alpine town of Wanaka working on ski patrol at Treble Cone Ski Resort in winter and as a trekking guide during the summer. Brenda has been guiding for Country Walkers for more than 10 years and loves to show off her favorite places on the South Island.
Madeleine Bellcroft or “Maddy” is a woman of many talents and interests, having worked in the areas of culinary arts, conservation, and outdoor education before becoming a guide in her native New Zealand. She enjoys yoga, rock climbing, skiing, and kayaking and has endless stories to share as she has skied in Antarctica, taught English in Nepal, flown a helicopter, and cooked dinner for King of Malaysia!
Yvonne Cook has worked as a guide, interpreter, and educator for small groups on adventurous expeditions in the polar regions in addition to being a kayak and trekking guide in both New Zealand and internationally. A university education in natural sciences combined with wide-ranging guiding experience has given her a broad knowledge base with her main areas of expertise being geology, glaciology, oceanography, meteorology, marine mammals, and botany. As a South Island local she is committed to understanding and protecting New Zealand’s natural environment. In addition, she has three decades of managing national and international field projects and personal expeditions that have all provided extensive experience in risk management, team work, and interacting with people from a variety of cultures.