There are countless amazing wāhine working in New Zealand's tourism industry. To celebrate International Women's Day, we profile a handful of them.
1. Kylie SargeantOwen River Lodge, West Coast
Kylie Sargeant is New Zealand's only female International Federation of Fly Fishers' (IFFF) certified casting instructor and has been at Owen River Lodge in Nelson for six seasons. Each year, she gives casting instruction to members of "Casting for Recovery" – a project for women who have been through breast cancer and its various treatments. The lodge's facilities are donated to the group every year. "Traditionally, fly fishing is a male-dominated sport, but here at Owen River Lodge we encourage all to enjoy it," Sargeant says. "Some of our female guests first visit as non-anglers, then after a lesson or two have the confidence and basic skill to try and many go on to enjoy fly fishing. We provide a positive and supportive environment for all."
2. Vanessa McKayCarino Wildlife Cruises, Bay of Islands
Vanessa McKay, a passionate advocate for the marine world, runs Carino Wildlife Cruises, a small family business in Paihia in Te Pēwhairangi, Bay of Islands. The award-winning tourism business offers sailing tours and wildlife conservation experiences. Throughout the pandemic, the company has been giving children the chance to complete an educational course, the Carino marine explorer activity, promoting hands-on learning about critically endangered bottlenose dolphins in the Bay of Islands. "I get to be the voice of the ocean, its wildlife and my awesome Bay of Islands," McKay says. "By sharing my passion I have an amazing opportunity to shape people's experiences and through nature, inspire them to make a difference in their world. Tourism has the power to bring us all together, and together we can really make a difference."
3. Justine RossLake Hāwea Station, Queenstown
Justine was born into farming, and after training in journalism and speech-language therapy, went on to found NZ brand 42Below with husband Geoff. She has been a trustee of a number of charitable organisations, including Play It Strange, and she and Geoff mentor many Kiwi start-ups. Now she's left the city life behind, for a new adventure at Lake Hāwea Station, a historic NZ high-country sheep and beef station in Queenstown Lakes District. The carbon-positive farm is home to merino fine wool and angus cattle, as well as practising regenerative agriculture. Guests can stay on the property in one of two cottages (converted shepherds' huts), and enjoy on-site hot tubs and 4WD farm tours.
"I believe in the intuitive and nurturing capacity of women; I also believe in their ability to boldly represent their values," Ross says. "This plays well in tourism when a woman is representing her country or region as a host, creating experiences around her business' unique offering. For us, that's ecotourism and climate-positive farming … we hope lasting memories are created in the Alps and foothills picnicking, watching a muster or planting trees. But mostly we hope our guests leave motivated to stand up for Papatūānuku, Mother Earth, and do what they can in the fight against climate change."
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4. Jenny Dobson Winemaker, Hawke's Bay
Although she didn't start making wine in New Zealand until the late 1990s, Jenny Dobson is one of New Zealand's most experienced winemakers. She spent 16 years in France, mostly in Burgundy and Bordeaux, and one season in Western Australia, before heading back to New Zealand in 1996 and settling in Hawke's Bay. After 12 years as chief winemaker at Te Awa Estate, she is now a wine consultant and boutique producer, making artisan NZ wines. "Women are playing an important role in all aspects of the New Zealand wine industry," Dobson says. "To have the opportunity to showcase and share our outstanding wines and the stories behind them with visitors, both local and from further afield, brings me enormous pleasure and satisfaction."
For more travel inspiration, go to newzealand.com/nz.
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