|Lauren making friends in Africa|
When did you join the Active family?
I joined the Active family for the 2005/06 season straight out of university and never looked back. You know when you’re on to a good thing. Plus, how do you have a “normal” job after this?
You spent most of the New Zealand winter over in Africa, a destination that conjures all sorts of emotions and images. What was the most surprising aspect of travelling there?
The smiling happiness and genuine nature of the African people, who by Western standards have very little (if not basically nothing). We were always welcomed with a huge smile, often a big hug, and generosity far beyond their means. Plus the sheer magnitude of the land; it seems to go on forever, and it is absolutely beautiful.
What are you listening to on your iPod right now? Be honest…
At the moment, the song that comes on is ‘Some Nights’ by FUN – it’s really catchy :).
How was the food in Africa? What dish were you most looking forward to enjoying on your return home to New Zealand?
The food in Africa is actually good! The standard is rice, beans, a beef stew, spinach, and maybe maize of some sort. Plus, we discovered Chips Majai, which is basically hot chips in an omelette usually served thrown into a black plastic shopping bag – but yum! I was mostly looking forward to milk when I got home – I just love a big cold cup of milk and African UHT milk has nothing on ours.
When you’re out on the road, cruising around the South Island on an Active trip, what place do you look forward to visiting most?
Everyone always asks me that and I really struggle to answer – everywhere we go is really special to me but for different reasons… If you’re really going to twist my arm, it would either be Okarito (because it feels like home and is away from everything and a good place to recharge and relax) or Milford Sound, which never ceases to blow my mind.
|Testing out the cold lake waters, South Island, NZ|
What’s the best thing about your job as an Active guide?
That’s really hard too – there are so many things! I’ve been super lucky to be involved in training some of our newer guides, which is always a highlight for me because I love teaching and showing them what the best job in the world looks like. On the road, my favourite part is when people see beautiful vistas for the first time, or make it to the top of a challenging climb to see the land open up in front of them – it’s always the ‘Wow! Whoa!’ moments that make me smile.
Do you have any quirky hobbies that we should know about?
I’m trying really hard to think of something awesome here…. but I’m not sure I do… I love movies (but am hopeless at movie trivia) and will not very often watch a movie I like only once… Pretty boring really!
I had to sneak this one in. You studied at the infamous Otago University in Dunedin – would you go back and do it all over again?
In a heart beat – I LOVED my time at Otago University. The Phys Ed School was awesome![Only in New Zealand can you get an actual degree in playing outside.]
Ride a bike or paddle a sea kayak, which do you prefer?
Either or both, or one after the other, whichever is on offer 🙂 I love them both. The serenity of exploring hidden coves in a kayak or flying down a hill on my mountain bike – life is good either way.
|Enjoying the serenity!|
And finally, Lauren, do you have a nickname?
I have lots… Lolls, Lollipops, Miss Lauren, ‘hey you’, whatever gets yelled out at the time, I’ll usually answer.
“Lauren is the bomb! From the first moment we met, her awesomeness spread through me like a double shot of tequila. She is the queen of guides. I dare say we could have been stranded in the bus for 8 days and she still would have found a way to make it fun and exciting! *I wish your ratings went higher – 7 is not high enough for Lauren.”
– Billy Cicchino, Mar 25th 2012
|White water rafting the Nile – that’s Lauren in the front with the red helmet!|