When you think about the best jobs in the world, what springs to mind? Astronaut? Zoo Keeper? Or how about Travel Director?
For New Zealand born Katie Hunter, there’s no place she’d rather be than sharing her beautiful back yard with visitors. A Trafalgar Travel Director for 5 years, we caught up with Katie to find out what it is about the best job in the world that she loves so much…
Why did you decide to become a Travel Director?
I had no idea that a move to London in 2007 would lead to finding my dream job as a Travel Director. I was flipping through the pages of a travel magazine and saw an advertisement to lead trips through Europe. It looked like an amazing opportunity so I applied, got the job and transitioned to Trafalgar 5 years ago. I absolutely love meeting new people and I really enjoy the difference each new day as a TD brings.
What is the best part of being a Travel Director in New Zealand?
I’m Maori and I absolutely love sharing stories, myths and legends about my culture. I also love seeing our guests react to the beauty of New Zealand. There is so much to see in one small country – majestic sand dunes, ancient rainforests, magnificent glaciers, breathtaking fiords, plus mountains, braided rivers, geysers and mud pools. You can really get swept up in the drama of NZ’s natural surrounds.
Where in New Zealand do you most enjoy sharing with your guests?
Rotorua is a very special place. There is so much to see and do. I’m always impressed by the stunning display of Pohutu Geyser when at its most powerful.
“I love the people, who are so passionate about where they live. It is simply the best place in the country to enjoy an authentic Maori experience – our guests learn about haka, poi, weaving, carving, art, food, song and dance.”
What is it about New Zealand that you think visitors fall in love with?
I’m not sure if I can put my finger on just one thing – there’s a lot to love here! Many people comment on how friendly and relaxed we are – it makes me proud that Kiwis value simple acts of kindness toward others, even if they’re complete strangers. People also love the fresh air, they’re often astounded that delicious, clean water flows straight from the tap and are surprised by the freedom that isolation can bring. Oh, and we make some pretty good wine here too!
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your mindset and attitude towards travel?
To travel is something truly special, and I think that the next time I travel I will appreciate it even more. I have really reflected on time spent in wonderful places around the globe and I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the travel experiences I’ve had.
“The pandemic has taught me that slowing down is not necessarily a bad thing, and on future travels I will take it easy and really savour my surroundings. My Dad has always told me to ‘Take the main chance’- grab opportunities when you can and have no regrets. Tomorrow isn’t promised.”
Why do you think local New Zealanders should consider exploring their own country – what will they get out of the experience?
Too often we leave experiencing our own backyard for another day. But there’s really no time like the present! I am still awestruck by the beauty of New Zealand and would encourage any Kiwi to travel their own country. Kiwis already know how wonderful our country is, so now is your chance to get out and see it. This country is full of wonderful surprises. Travelling now is an opportunity to deepen your connection to your part of the world, New Zealand, and maybe find a special piece of paradise to return to one day.
Why is now such an important time for New Zealanders to support the travel industry and domestic tourism?
There are some amazing New Zealanders working in the travel industry, and for them tourism is their life. Those wonderful people for whom tourism is their passion, their calling, their dream come true. These people bring to life the country for you with their commitment and genuine love for what they do. They might be a local guide, or concierge, maybe a skipper or helicopter pilot. To help these amazing New Zealanders continue to do what they love, we need other amazing New Zealanders to travel. Visit the place you’ve been meaning to visit ‘one day’ and make ‘one day’ today.
What experience are you most looking forward to from our new series of domestic trips?
Northland, on our Winterless North trip! You will instantly feel like you’re on holiday heading along the Kauri Coast towards Hokianga. The moment you lay eyes on the Hokianga Harbour you simply want to relax and unwind. I am in particular looking forward to showing guests Cape Reinga, a place all Kiwis should see. It is a place of spectacular beauty and cultural significance.
And finally, do you think you’ll always be a Travel Director?