Tour Leaders

Our wonderful team of leaders are there to make your dreams of travel a reality

Chas Morris

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.

Chas was always professional. He was helpful and knowledgeable.

A people person. He looked out for all individuals on the tour and strived to meet their needs.

Helen Tait

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’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 60 countries – through Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, 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.

Helen lives in Christchurch and is a keen skier, cyclist and tramper. She has led tours for Tours Direct for over 10 years, and loves sharing her enthusiasm for a wide range of places and cultures. She specially likes to share walking and cycling tours, at a relaxed pace suited to travellers for whom this might be a first. She has worked as a cycling guide in New Zealand, taking visitors and locals on high profile trails such as Alps to Ocean and the Otago Rail Trail, as well as some hidden gems, and she led the first cycle tour for Tours Direct, along the picturesque Danube. She is a convert to E-biking and now finds she no longer needs excuses to avoid biking up to her hillside home.

“I love being one of Tours Direct’s great team – giving travellers unique opportunities 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”

We were completety happy with her care and attention. She has a lovely personality, and we would happily go on another tour with her.

Helen was great, never appeared hassled although she must have felt it at times. Always clear with instructions and showed concern for each of the group and very willing to sort any problems. Really well prepared and organised.

Janet Shankland

Janet’s love of travel has taken her places far and wide. Although Janet has visited an impressive number of countries and all 7 continents, every new trip brings a new adventure so Janet reckons she will never stop travelling.

Early travels ignited her wanderlust and with a rucksack and a cheeky smile at the age of 23 off she went to Europe on her big OE – only to return to her hometown of Auckland for good a couple of years ago, with John, her husband in tow.

A career forged in the travel industry combined nicely with that wanderlust and either through work, pleasure or both Janet has clocked up some miles, travelled by air, road, rail and ship to some of the most incredible places on the planet.

She is excited about sharing her next travel adventure with you to the mighty Himalaya and the hidden kingdom of Bhutan.

A warm and bubbly person Janet certainly knows her stuff about international travel.

Well organised and able to problem solve, we found Janet easy to relate to.

Jenni Shallard

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.

We were very lucky with the group we travelled with , they were all lovely people, and we got on very well I thought.

A lot of this was down to Jenni, She was a fantastic tour leader who had real empathy with all of us ,was bubbly and full of fun ,serious when necessary and very organised.

We had a wonderful time and would definitely travel again with Tours Direct especially if Jenni was taking the group.

Don & Sue

Mandy Page

Mandy is one well-travelled person, having visited all 7 continents! Over the years her travels have taken her to the UK, Europe, Japan, 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.

Fantastic, Mandy went out of her way every day to check up on everyone, was very inclusive and informative. An excellent leader, strong and direct.

Mandy an exceptional tour leader. A lovely caring personality. Always fun.

Mandy did a great job of meeting the needs of a disparate group. We enjoyed her roadside walks and ability to keep us amused with stories, jokes, crosswords, etc.

Mark Windsor

Mark's life has been quite nomadic, with over 50 house moves so far. He grew up in India and studied at Woodstock School in the British hill station of Mussoorie, located in the Himalayan foothills, where he and his wife, Annie, worked for seven years.
Mark and Annie have also lived and worked for many years in other countries - Pakistan, England, Scotland and Vietnam - and have travelled extensively during this time to many more places, including South Africa, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, Turkey, Croatia, Jordan, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, the Canary Islands, USA, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, and of course good old New Zealand! They recently returned from living overseas to settle in Tauranga, where they have a large property, growing lots of their own produce. But it doesn't take too many months of staying put before the travel bug kicks in again...

Mark studied at the University of Auckland to be a Mechanical Engineer with a management diploma through the University of Warwick in the UK. Mark retired early however when he was working he specialised in energy consultancy, specifically focused on renewable and sustainable energies. He says that his favourite job was as a young volunteer engineer on a hydro-electric project in Nepal, where he lived in a mud hut with no electricity or water. In New Zealand he has worked for organisations like Masport, Fisher and Paykel, NZ Synthetic Fuels, Rheem, AUT and EECA.
Mark has enjoyed the outdoors all his life. He has done lots of hiking, particularly in the Himalaya, including the Annapurna Sanctuary, and enjoyed many long motorbike trips in the mountains with Annie. He and Annie also cycled down the full length of New Zealand to raise money for a charity. While growing up, basketball and tennis were his main sports.
Mark loves meeting new people and finding out about their life stories. He also reads avidly, indulging his interest in new science and technical discoveries as well as a wide range of historical topics.

Mark is warm, intelligent and very well travelled.

Excellent problem solver. Well organised

Always has something interesting to talk about and unique perspective on things.

Rachel Plumstead

Rachel went to Lincoln University to study a Bachelor of Commerce (Tourism) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing. In her third year of study she went to northern California to Chico State University on a university exchange programme, and this began her travels.
On her way back to NZ she crewed aboard a 72 foot ketch from Tahiti to the Pitcairn Islands.
After finishing university, Rachel joined the Ministry of Fisheries as a Scientific Observer. This was a job that required her to be at sea for 6-8 weeks at a time, 12-200 miles off the coast of New Zealand, aboard predominantly foreign fishing trawlers. Her job was to gather data for scientific analysis of fish species, quotas etc. Rachel was usually the only female aboard the fishing vessel, and often the only english speaker as many of the boats were Japanese, Korean, Russian or Norwegian owned. This job required a lot of creative communication, tact and strength of character as she was on board to basically auditing their fishing operation, which was not always received well.

Nearing the end of 1995 Rachel booked an overland truck tour for a 12 week African Adventure. This is where she truly fell in love with Africa. The 12 weeks wasn't nearly enough for her, so she cancelled the return journey home and stayed in Africa. She landed herself a job as tour leader for over land trips in Africa and the Middle East. For years Rachel travelled through Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, made trips into Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire), Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. The Middle East trips travelled through Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, & Syria with day trips into Lebanon. She specialised in 7 month Trans Africa trips from London to Capetown - a dream trip for her!
Whilst working in Africa Rachel took some breaks from the organised trips for some more independent travel and backpacked around Turkey, Thailand, a smattering of Malaysia, India, Greece and Ethiopia at different times.
Rachel returned to New Zealand with her husband Adam (who was a driver on the epic African trips), to run the family dairy farm in Reporoa.
The travel bug has never left, and her feet itch to get going to far off destinations, exploring other areas of our amazing world which are culturally exotic, animal rich, and off the beaten track.

Wow, Rachel knows so much about traveling in Africa and what to do and what not to do.

A cheerful and lively person, Rachel brought her wealth of knowledge alongside good humour.

So much fun!

Stu McGregor

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 16 May 2019 when he’s off to explore The Way of St James... and then exploring Celtic whislt Walking in Scotland & Ireland 2019

Stu was excellent.

Adequately met expectations.

Appreciated his organising tickets for non-scheduled events.

Right degree of group control and latitude.

Contact Details:

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P: +64 9 368 1640


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