Chas has lived in the delightful lakeside township of Wanaka for pretty much his entire life; farming there since leaving school. After attending Lincoln University in Christchurch, he returned to the family farm in 1970 and purchased it from his parents. He sold the 1,000-acre Wanaka farm in 1994, retaining 70 acres on which he grows lucerne, and bought 2,500 acres in Southland which he farmed with his son until 2008.
Since selling the Wanaka farm, Chas has led numerous groups of North Americans around New Zealand and Australia for Road Scholar and two other travel companies. Recently, Chas has also been taking groups of New Zealanders and Australians to the rest of the world. In this role he has visited countries throughout Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, as well as leading groups to China, Tibet, Borneo, Indonesia, USA and Canada, and Myanmar (Burma).
Chas works with New Zealand Search & Rescue and he was on the Otago Conservation Board, planning the management of the Mt. Aspiring National Park among other duties. His leisure interests include diving, sport hunting, fishing, adventure jet-boating, four-wheel-driving and hiking.
Chas has a passion for taking people to unusual destinations and learning about the culture, history, lifestyle and geology of the countries they visit. When he is not leading groups, he travels to warmer climes during the New Zealand winter.
Colin’s love for travel started when he was teaching in the UK and he took several school parties to France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Russia; an overland trip to Turkey, and finally a four-week tour of the USA. Being a Commando in the Royal Marine Reserves led him to more adventurous travel and he left teaching and became an expedition driver/leader for a New Zealand overland company leading tours in Scandinavia, Africa, South America, Asia, and the Trans-Siberian Railway.
After ten years on the road his next adventure was to become a founding director of The Adventure Travel Shop in Wellington; this gave him the opportunity to keep travelling, to visit new destinations as well as his old favourites, and to share his enthusiasm with his clients.
Education was never too far from Colin’s thoughts and when he sold The Adventure Travel Shop he was involved in the establishment of educational standards for the travel industry (in New Zealand). Teaching travel and tourism then became his full time occupation.
From 1997 to 2001 he was president of the New Zealand Institute of Travel and Tourism.
After three years in the Cook Islands he and his wife Barbara returned to Wellington.
“In 2010, 2011 and 2015 I escorted Tours Direct African Safaris to Namibia & Botswana and in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016 to Kenya & Tanzania. In 2017 I escorted a tour on the Shongololo Express. For 2018 we have another African Adventure on the Shongololo Express which includes the countries of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa. Not only will we be crossing a vast area we will also have the opportunity to visit some of the most memorable Game Parks in the region: Kruger, Kapama, Antelope and Hwange. Also in 2018 we have The Serengeti & Beyond tour to Tanzania and Zanzibar. Come and join me on these amazing journeys.”
Frances’ dad always said she was of Spanish descent – something about the Spanish Armada sinking off the Cornwall coast, sailors who swam ashore, and the rest (as they say) is history!
She has lived in the USA, and her travels have included Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, Spain, Portugal and Morocco.
Her heart races every time she hears a Spanish beat. This love of all things Spanish and Latin American has sent her to learn the language, dance the rumba and the samba, sample pisco sour and devour the remarkable histories of Spain and South America.
Frances is a feature and travel writer and also moonlights as a presenter of radio scripts. She has had extensive experience in group dynamics and problem solving.
Travel is one of her special delights. She’s a natural leader and wherever Frances goes there’s lots of laughter. Her irrepressible sense of humour and hands-on attitude makes touring with her unforgettable.
Helen’s passion for travel started when she was selected as a teenager to be a New Zealand delegate to a UNESCO international youth congress. She worked in Japan in her early 20s, then on to Europe, and has travelled ever since as widely and often as possible, for both work and pleasure. Her trips have taken her to more than 50 countries – through Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, North and South America, Africa and the Pacific.
Helen has a BA from Canterbury University and most of her working life has been in public sector management. She was City Librarian in Auckland and later Director of the State Library of Victoria, before moving on to wider management responsibilities, and more recently to consulting work with local government, mainly in community planning.
Her overseas travel opportunities through work included two fellowships, stints on international committees and a City Manager exchange award to the USA, all wonderful opportunities to experience other ways of life first hand.
Helen lives in Christchurch and is a keen skier and tramper. She loves to search out interesting extra opportunities for walks with tour members who share her love of the outdoors.
“I am so excited to be part of Tours Direct’s Escorted Tours – with their unique opportunities for travellers to enjoy the world’s most interesting and exotic locations in comfort. Our excellent local guides add a wealth of history and their own cultures. It’s a privilege (and great fun!) for me to use my knowledge and experience to help people to get the most out of these wonderful tours.”
Janet has been in the travel and tourism industry all her working life from an accidental beginning, and has spent many years honing her professional skills while learning about the multitude of complexities in travel sales, operations, marketing, product, purchasing, promotion, distribution, media and press.
Within travel sales, Janet worked for some of the best and most specialist travel companies in the UK and in New Zealand before she left for the wider world in her early 20’s. Travels in Europe, the Middle East, Africa ( North, East, Southern, Central and West!), the Indian Ocean, the Indian subcontinent, Indochina and South East Asia followed and Janet managed to combine her love of travel with jobs specialising in putting together amazing travel experiences for others to enjoy.
The second half of her travel career took her over the other side of the fence to destination marketing and on to start her own tourism consultancy working with National Tourist Boards and private Travel Companies on the ground in destinations around the world, including Ethiopia.
“My English husband and I have enjoyed many a holiday or work trips to Montenegro, Italy, France, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Nepal and India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Madagascar, Ethiopia and quite a few other places as we are lucky to have been to all 7 continents!”
There is nothing Jenni loves more than the excitement of seeing what’s around the next corner in foreign and far off lands, and she can’t wait to take you there with her.
Jenni is passionate about travel and over the years her travels have taken her to Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Tibet, China, Greece, France, Spain, England, Scotland, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, Iceland, Germany, Pitcairn Island, Tahiti, Australia, Rarotonga, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zaire, Zanzibar, Malawi, Botswana, Turkey, Singapore, Uganda, Switzerland and Fiji.
After University (B.Ag.Sci.-Hons) Jenni worked many years in roles for Government and multi- National companies and so brings her organisational and people skills to her role as Tour Leader.
She lives in Tauranga with her husband Chris and their two boys. Up until 4 years ago they were farming in the South Island
As Jenni says: "Tours Direct has taken me to many countries now and I have loved travelling with them so much, I have joined them.
Helping people experience the time of their lives whilst discovering the world is what motivates me to do everything I can to make those experiences nothing less than fantastic.
Mandy is one well-travelled person, having visited all 7 continents! Over the years her travels have taken her to the UK, Europe, the USA, Canada, Vanuatu, the Philippines, South Africa, Kenya, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Mexico, Russia, China, Burma, Croatia, Slovenia, Vietnam, India, Laos, Cambodia, Argentina and Antarctica plus a few more.
Mandy has always had an adventurous spirit, especially for places more unusual. She particularly enjoys introducing others to these destinations and making it possible for people to realise a life’s dream.
Mandy attended Waikato University where she studied Management. For a number of years she worked in the IT industry and not-for-profit sector. Currently she works exclusively for Tours Direct travelling with groups and researching new destinations.more about Mandy...
She is interested in the arts and has an unquenchable fascination with ancient history and cultures. You’ll benefit from Mandy's extensive travel experience, and especially enjoy her infectious laughter.
Stu is an ardent fan of art, religious history, design and architecture. He is interested in people and loves listening to their stories. Over the years he has worked as an engineer, graphic designer and IT consultant.
Don’t be surprised if he sees the funny side of almost anything as life is an adventure to be enjoyed as we can!
For 24 fascinating days, loads of fun, great company and some of the most wonderful memories you’ll ever make ... join Stu on 11 May 2018 when he’s off to explore The Way of St James!