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View from Colin Todd Hut on Mount Aspiring, New Zealand

About us

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About us

Crafting your NZ made mountain adventures

Founded in 1990, Aspiring Guides is a professional mountain guiding company that has been taking people on mountain adventures for almost 30 years. Our base is Wanaka in New Zealand's South Island. Our local playground includes the breathtakingly beautiful Southern Alps including the Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage Area that encompasses Mt Aspiring, Fiordland, Westland and Aoraki / Mt Cook National Parks. This provides endless opportunities for adventures and our trips will help you to explore some of the wildest backcountry NZ has to offer whether climbing the high peaks, backcountry skiing or trekking the valleys and passes.

This means we can take you to the ‘classics’ such as Mt Aspiring itself but also pride ourselves on providing the opportunity to embark on a lifetime's journey, developing skills and knowledge to support more mountain adventures and achieving further goals.

Aspiring Guides' team of professional guides are renown for their passion and experience. Our 'hand-picked' personable mountain guides are qualified through the NZ Mountain Guides Association (or overseas equivalent national association) to the international standards of the IFMGA. Their mountaineering achievements, combined with a comprehensive knowledge of guiding and instruction are the fundamental ingredients in providing a safe and enlightening connection between our guests and the mountain environment. Our international guides can also take you round the world to destinations such as Italy and Peru. During these expeditions our guides will be showing you round their very own old stomping grounds and backyards!

Our experience of New Zealand's mountains, high level of expertise and comprehensive logistics support are the basis of Aspiring Guides' international reputation for providing a quality and personalised service.

Job inquiries - we are always on the look out for guides - click here for more information and application details.


Your safety is our priority.

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Meet the Team

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Andy Cole

Andy is a native of the southern alps. He has been climbing since the early ninety's and a guide since 2003. These days he splits his guiding between New Zealand, Antarctica and Japan. Between trips to the deep powder of Japan and the frozen wilderness of the polar plateau Andy loves nothing more than climbing and skiing in the South Islands mountain ranges and in winter if he's not guiding he's more likely out in the backcountry skiing with his partner. Andy is also Head guide at Rising Sun Guides and President of the New Zealand mountain guides association

Dean

Dean Staples is an IFMGA Mountain and Ski Guide living in Lake Hawea, near Wanaka, New Zealand and working in New Zealand and around the world. He has guided Everest nine times, and was the first New Zealander to summit Everest from both North (Tibet, China) and South (Nepal) sides. He has climbed six other 8000m peaks in Tibet, Nepal and Pakistan, and multiple summits over 6000m on many continents, both professionally, and for fun! Dean has over 35 years of climbing and mountain guiding experience within New Zealand and around the world, and over 20 years as an IFMGA exam Assessor. He has held Chief Guide positions for over a decade at the guiding company Adventure Consultants and the heli-ski operation Harris Mountains (HMH). Many guides specialise over one or two disciplines, but Dean has managed to amass a elite level of guiding skill across multiple disciplines. He has significant experience at high altitude (including nine ascents of Everest and ascents of six more 8000m peaks), as Lead Guide Heli-skiing (NZ and Canada), as an NZMGA/ IFMGA examiner in both Climb and Ski, and on ascents of technical NZ mountains. Dean has filmed a significant amount on Everest above 8000m, at altitudes that are challenging in which to operate cameras and often works as a Safety Co-ordinator on visiting film projects in alpine or extreme terrain. Dean continues to ski tour and climb for his own enjoyment, and shares a love of mountain adventures with his partner Lydia, the first woman to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen.

Lydia Kala Pattar 2021

Lydia is a mountaineer and Mountain Guide living by the side of Lake Hawea, near Wanaka, New Zealand, with her partner Dean Staples and a cat called Koshka. In 1988 Lydia became the first woman in the world to climb Mt Everest without supplementary oxygen. To date she is the only New Zealander to have climbed Everest without oxygen, and has climbed Everest six times. She has made a total of 10 ascents over 8000m, and been on more than 35 expeditions over 6000m. Lydia is a passionate mountaineer, an IFMGA International Mountain & Ski Guide, holds the Canadian Level 2 “Avalanche Forecasting”, a registered Physiotherapist, BHSc(Physio), and is a professional Inspirational Speaker.

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Roy has been guiding for over 30 years with over 25 summer and winter seasons in NZ as well extensive experience overseas. He has worked as a school teacher and has held positions safety officer for heliski operations. He is a senior assessor for the NZ Mountain Guides Association and regularly assesses prospective mountain and ski guides their guiding exams.

Kim

Kim grew up in Tasmania where he began tramping and climbing. During a six month trip to the Alps he became hooked on alpine climbing. All thoughts of a normal life dashed, Kim spent the next ten years climbing around the world, pioneering first ascents in Nepal, Alaska, Patagonia and Canada as well as climbing many famous routes in the European Alps. Notable ascents include the North Face of the Eiger, Moonflower Buttress on Mt Hunter, Alaska and North Face of Cholatse.

Kim has worked as a rock climbing guide and outdoor instructor for the last 12 years in Australia before beginning his training as an NZMGA Climbing Guide. He is passionate about helping others develop their knowledge and skills and is a popular guide and instructor.

Meet Cillian Kennedy

Cillian was born in Ireland but grew up in the Blue Mountains Australia. Tramping, mountain biking and canyoning soon took a back seat to rock climbing. He has been working as a rock climbing, canyoning and outdoor instructor for 16 years around Australia before starting his training as a NZMGA Climbing Guide.

He has climbed throughout Australia, USA, Canada, Alaska, New Zealand ,Thailand and the European Alps. He currently splits his time between Wanaka and the Blue Mountains in Australia. He looks forward to sharing many adventures with his young daughter in the future.

Whit Meet the Team

Whitney, originally from Jackson Hole US, has and climbed and skied throughout NZ since 1979. After living and working in here for over 20 years, together with his partner, decided to create a high end backcountry travel experience and hence Wild Walks NZ was created.

Whitney is a former Director Chief Guide of Aspiring Guides and Training Officer and Assessor of the NZ Mountain Guides Association. He has over 50 ascents of Mount Aspiring and countless Southern Alps adventures. In 1990 he won the World Telemark Giant Slalom Championships and has also won four North American Telemark Championships. He takes pride in cooking fluffy rice in adverse conditions. Whitney has also skied, trekked and climbed throughout the world, more recently on a number of European ski tours.

When he is not in the mountains he is normally hanging out on the wild south coast or Peru, surfing with and without his kite.

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James started climbing in 1995 at age 18 and became a guide in 1997. He worked initially as an Glacier Guide, then became an Alpine Trekking guide and is now a fully qualified IFMGA Guide. James has well and truly been through his skiing and climbing guides apprenticeship working on the West Coast Fox Glacier along with ski patrolling in his early years throughout Canterbury, Queenstown, USA, and Canada. James has been Field Guide/ Field Trainer in Antarctica for the Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Programs for 7 summers and more recently closer to home been running Southern Lakes Heliski in Wanaka. His most memorable climbing experience is bivvying on top of Mt Cook to complete the Grand Traverse.

Andrea Bruni

Andrea is currently back in Italy - we hope to see he back in NZ soon - watch this space.

Andrea is originally from the Dolomites, in the eastern Alps, where he grew up skiing and climbing but has spent most of the last 4 years living and working in New Zealand.

Andrea studied Forestry and Environmental Sciences and certified as an IFMGA Guide in 2009. He has an impressive list of travels and expeditions including Australia, Alaska, Patagonia, Chile, Madagascar, Cuba.

Andrea is a popular guide and instructor, with a calm, confident and methodical approach. Most importantly he is known for his great cooking (after all, "I'm Italian").

Mount Aspiring Tititea

Tai grew up skiing in Hokkaido, the island of ‘Japow’ in Japan.

He moved to NZ in 2001 hoping to become an outdoor instructor or guide. Soon after he discovered the unique club fields in Canterbury and the Craigieburn/Arthur’s Pass area - which became his backcountry playground.

While working as a glacier guide on the South Island's West Coast, he explored the endless glaciers and peaks of the Southern Alps skiing and climbing as much as time would allow.

Tai never has a dull moment being a passionate skier, climber, whitewater kayaker, hunter, fisherman, mountain biker and father.

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Tom was NZ's first NZMGA qualified splitboard guide and loves sharing his passion for snowboarding with all those around him. He has been based in Wanaka for the past 17 winters and when not guiding works for Snowsports NZ as the Head Coach of New Zealand’s Freeski and Snowboard teams travelling the globe from one training camp or competition to the next. A former World Cup competitor and 3-time Olympic coach, Tom juggles his time between coaching in the halfpipe, guiding in the backcountry, heli-boarding guiding and spending time with his young family.

Bronwen

Bronwen developed her undying passion for the mountains after her first visit to Nepal at 19 years of age. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Sydney University but she admits "I don’t like sitting down, let alone in an office!"

She has guided Wild Walks in NZ as well as trekking trips in Nepal, Mongolia & Bhutan. In NZ she has done a traverse of the South Island mountain chain in 84 days and made a film about it and has worked as a canyon guide and rock climbing instructor.

Bronwen entered the ski industry as a ski patroller and has spent winters patrolling in New Zealand, Canada and Norway. She now spends northern hemisphere winters ski guiding and teaching avalanche courses in Hokkaido, Japan. Skiing is her favourite way to share time with others in the mountains.

Pet

Petrouchka grew up in New Zealand and was introduced to the outdoors at a young age. After completing a degree in music, she took a U-turn and promptly began traveling the world in pursuit of good rock climbing and good skiing. Realising that her passion was in the mountains, she returned home to commence her journey on the mountain guiding pathway.
Unable to stay in one place for too long, Petrouchka has worked as a rock climbing, trekking, sea kayaking and ski guide in NZ, Canada, Australia and Japan. These days she enjoys guiding right here in NZ where she can share her home mountains with others.

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Jimmy loves being outside, mountains or open ocean being his preferred habitats. Raised in Wellington, he was drawn to the mountains of the South Island as a teenager, worked extensively throughout NZ in industrial rope access work, got a degree in Maori language, and spent as much time in the mountains as feasibly possible. Jimmy guides in NZ and Japan and loves sharing his enthusiasm for the mountains with others.

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Adam Cotterell

Adam spent his youth surfing and ocean swimming on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. During his 20s he worked as a molecular pharmacologist at UQ in Brisbane to basically fund his travels. His most memorable adventures are his year-long journey circumnavigating the South American continent on a 125 motorcycle, cycling solo through the USA and spending 5 epic winters snowboarding in North America. After working as a snowboard instructor and later a ski patroller in the Kootenay Rockies in Canada, Adam decided to give up his science career to pursue a life in the mountains. He now lives in Wanaka, NZ where he loves tramping, splitboarding, open water swimming and rock climbing.

Frankie

Frankie orignates from Wales and has climbed and trekked around the world before settling in Lake Hawea. In 2017 she competed in the epic Godzone multisports race over 9 grueling days of trekking, packrafting and biking. As well as guiding our Wild Walks and instructing rock climbing, her side project is creating the Local Dehy meals with her partner, delicious locally sourced vegetarian meals that you are likely to sample on our Wild Walks. Her knowledge of local flora, fauna and Maori puts even our local kiwis to shame.

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Emily grew up exploring the bush and mountains of the Aotearoa's north island. Now she lives in Lake Hawea with her partner Frankie, and ginger cat Kehu and is happiest when her spare time is filled with adventures in the mountains—tramping, rock climbing, skiing or biking, and finishing her days creating delicious food and drinking a glass of pinot!

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Pat's from the south coast of NSW but has called New Zealand home since 2016. After becoming obsessed with rock climbing, he dropped out of a chemistry degree to move to the Central North Island, where he completed a certificate in outdoor recreation. Since then he's been based in Wanaka following a passion for climbing and mountaineering.

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Jessica has NZOIA Senior Rock 2 Instructor, Bush 1, Alpine 1 and Avalanche 1 qualifications. She used to be found organising everything back at Base but now is out guiding on a full time basis. When she is not guiding and instructing, she escapes to climb some seriously high grade rock climbs. Quick with a giggle, Jess has a relaxed but caring manner that builds confidence with all her clients.

Administration

Vickie and Lukas, Aspiring Guides, Dom Channon Photo

Vickie and Lukas are the latest addition to the Aspiring Guides team taking over the reigns in June 2019. Both strong climbers and keen outdoor enthusiasts. Lukas is also one of NZ's strongest alpine climbers being the second person to solo the 1500m 'Cul de Sac' winter route on Mt Crosscut in the Darrans.

Vickie's background is Human Resources and also runs her own successful business consultancy business. Lukas, originally from German, is a qualified plumber.

Both are established Wanaka locals, living in Albert Town with Vickie's 8 and 10 year old sons.

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