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Jo McHugh

New Zealand Guide

Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I grew up on the Welsh coast; I've been in New Zealand for 5 years now.

Hobbies?
I'm a complete mermaid so I love anything water based (frozen water included!). Surfing is my number one, closely followed by diving and snowboarding.

What’s been your greatest outdoor adventure to date?
Fulfilling my lifelong dream of surfing and snowboarding in the same day, right here in NZ!

What did you do before discovering a passion for guiding?
I'm a bit of a Jack of all trades! From chalet hosting in Italy, to buyer for an Oil and Gas company, to surf inctructor, to diving instructor, I've done all sorts!

Do you have a favourite quote that you live by?
'Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the things that you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.'  -Mark Twain.

Have you studied beyond school? If so in what field? 
I have a BA Hons Degree in Italian and Spanish with Business Studies.

Joanna and Andy

Testimonials

“Jo was spectacular from the first day when she met us at the hotel! Her attitude and enthusiasm were infectious!! She would always start the day with a huge smile and an anything is possible attitude. Put together a wonderful breakfast so we had the energy needed for the day. She would always be very patient and encouraging on every adventure we were on. After the morning activity magically a beautiful lunch would appear out of nowhere, and Jo would be grinning like it was no big deal, she does it all the time. Then after a hard day of hiking, rafting or biking she put together a gourmet meal in no time at all. She bent over backwards to make sure that everyone’s needs were being taken care of and that all were happy. Jo is very down to earth, easy going and a pleasure to be around!!! She helped make this an unforgettable once in lifetime experience and I thank her for all she did to make it a very special time for me!!!!”
- Dan Hatch (Reno, Nevada, United States), Kauri February 2018

“How can you not fall in love with Jo? Encouraging, fun, sociable. The guides (on both trips I went on) were part of the highlights of the trip.”
- Janet Pahima (Savion, Israel, Israel), Kauri October 2017

“Jo was fantastic. Very well organized and made sure everything went smoothly with the smaller details like meals and accommodation. She was always very attentive to every member of group and took time to talk to everyone to make sure they were getting what they needed and were having a good time. During one of our longer hikes, Jo arrived at the end with the lead group, than ran back up the trail, all the way to those in the back and carried their backpacks the rest of the way so they could finish the hike. This really stood out to me and showed me how dedicated Jo was to making this trip the best experience to all of the group members. Being 23 and traveling alone, knowing that I had someone like Jo to look after me made all the difference.”
- Cassidy Anderson (West Wardsboro, Vermont, United States), Kauri November 2016

Trip Reviews

  •   4.77 out of 5 (from 119 reviews)

    Hiking in the Alps

    The trip with Active Adventures to the Mount Blanc area was great. The scenery is unbelievable in all three countries. The hikes were all wonderful and yet very demanding. That made the trip even more rewarding for us. We got to do things we never have done before on the off day. Paragliding in Chamonix was a first and fabulous. All of the small towns we travelled to were lovely. The accommodations in these towns were great. Nice small hotels that all were so much a part of those towns. All of the meals were also great. The lunches were just the right amount and much of the local food such as cheese. All of the dinners were very good.
    Our tour guides were great. Jean-Marc knows the Mount Blanc area so well. Andy was always available and helpful. Together they made the trip a pleasure.
    Harry Dickens Review Image
    – CA, United States
    Tour du Mont Blanc, July 2017
  •   4.77 out of 5 (from 119 reviews)

    Put this trip on your to-do list!

    Another wonderful trip with Active Adventures! That is what I say about Active Europe’s Tour du Mont Blanc. This was my fourth trip with Active and once again I was impressed with how they do business. Active’s Andy and Nick were excellent representatives for Active Adventures. They are fun, personable, engaging, helpful, and quick to help if there was a problem. The local guides, Jean-Marc, Suzanne, and Jean-Pat, were fun and a joy to be around. Their English language skills were excellent which was great since my French is pathetic! Point to a mountain or an object of curiosity and they could tell you about it. The whole crew worked together great to ensure everyone enjoyed the hiking regardless of pace, weather or skill level. The accommodations were great. Even the one hotel described a “rustic” (meaning it didn’t have en-suite bathrooms) by the guides was delightful. The food was excellent as to be expected and thankfully the hiking burned off the calories allowing for full indulgence at every meal! Oh! The Cheese! The wonderful cheese! Be prepared to sample some of the best cheeses around.
    Now, for the important part, the Tour du Mont Blanc. Definitely something everyone should do in their life. The Alps are magnificent and the towns along the way are beautiful. Active picked great trails to hike that highlighted the beauty of the area. Throw in their choice of towns to explore (especially Annecy’s Old Town), kayaking and mountain biking and it really is an Active Adventure. I highly recommend taking the gondola from Courmayeur, Italy all the way to the Agullie de Midi if the weather is nice (Mother Nature was kind to us with only one day of rain, some fog, and LOTS of clear skies). The view from the gondola over the glaciers is awe-inspiring. Definitely a highlight of the trip. Active doesn’t pay for this but it is well worth the Euros. Active does pay for an Aguille de Midi trip from Chamonix, France but it doesn’t cross the glaciers so I suggest doing it from Italy (weather permitting) and choose the Accro-Park option in Chamonix at the end of the tour. However you decide to do it, the Agullie de Midi is a must do. The views of the Mont Blanc mastiff are spectacular! If you like zip lines and ropes courses the Accro-Park is a great time. If you want a challenge and have the time I recommend doing the Black course (they have four courses; Green, Blue, Red, and Black). Overall, I really enjoyed this trip. If Active didn’t have so many other trips I want to do, I would do this one again!
    Damon Weimer Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Tour du Mont Blanc, September 2016
  •   4.75 out of 5 (from 55 reviews)

    Stunning

    Stunning is the first word that comes to mind. This was my 4th trip with Active and as usual it was 5 stars across the board. When I first heard about the trip I called Phil to learn more. He told me the Dolomites were the most stunning, picture perfect landscape he's seen and he wasn't exaggerating. I've never said WOW so many times before. Every turn would lead to a breathtaking scene.
    The trip was managed very well as are all Active trips. The guides were great, within days feeling like long time friends. The food and accommodations were excellent, luxury mountain hiking with 5 course meals, electricity and plumbing to be found at every stop!
    The Dolomites are a must visit and I can't think of a better group to do it with than Active Adventures. Looking forward to my next adventure with them.
    Boris Diskin Review Image
    – New Jersey, United States
    Dolomiti, October 2016
  •   4.77 out of 5 (from 119 reviews)

    Lean Review

    What an incredible trip! The itinerary has the perfect balance of activities to keep the trekking exciting but not too exhausting, and provides flexibility in the case of unexpected changes that may come up. The food was one of the highlights of the trip; there is nothing quite like setting up a picnic on the side of a mountain full of cheeses, meats, and other delightful treats. But what truly made this an exceptional adventure were our guides Phil, Andy, Jean Marc, and Jean Marie. Their energy, enthusiasm, and flawless teamwork provided the signature of an ACTIVE Adventure, and continues to make these trips stand miles apart from any other travel company. Though we started as 10 individuals, we quickly became 1 family. Thank you for another unforgettable journey; we look forward to the next one!
    Georgina Lean Review Image
    – California, United States
    Tour du Mont Blanc, July 2016
  •   4.77 out of 5 (from 119 reviews)

    IT’S THE GUIDES

    Mt Blanc is a giant rock. And this trip is essentially you walking around it. Doesn’t sound too FIVE star does it? Well, as rocks go it’s pretty spectacular. And you get to go through three countries where they speak a bunch of non-English languages that I’m sure I was supposed to learn in high school and use TWO currencies … (Really Switzerland? With the Franc … Get over yourself). Although there are other trips and other providers that will guide you around this rock, the Active trip is better because the people that work for Active are awesome at what they do. We worked with Lynette in NZ to book the trip and although we never met, we are pretty much best friends now. I can think of no better indication of a good business than return customers. Of the twelve people in our group, ALL of them were return Active customers. Why? The Guides.

    For this trip, we had three French guides from Companie des guides de Chamonix and one Kiwi from Active. The French guides were enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and fun. I would recommend all of them without hesitation, especially Jean-Marie our driver (see below). But Kiwi Nick from Active was the Difference Maker. He is so incredibly nice that you know he has a wonderful girlfriend back in New Zealand. And they do all these wonderful couple activities that are super cool. Like paddle boarding. And you can’t wait to hang out with them because they’re awesome. And they booze, of course, because couples that DON’T booze should not be trusted #lifelesson. And you may say, ‘Well Neil that’s not appropriate saying that about a guide’s personal life’ ... but whatever. Lynette is not going to take it out of this review because we are best friends. Nick handles all his guide responsibilities extremely well but it feels like he is a part of the group. He’s experiencing and sharing this trip along with you rather than just showing you Mt Blanc. Rarely will a guided trip like this go EXACTLY to plan. Weather, injuries, construction, conflicting personalities among the group, etc. are just some of the problems the guides need to be prepared to deal with quickly. Thankfully we had few of these issues, but Nick was always attentive to our enjoyment. I’m still not sure how he put up with me. I know how horrible I am. I live me every day.

    Beyond the guides, the trip is strong.
    ACTIVITIES: Although you are hiking in a relatively compact area the hikes are varied and challenging enough to make that post-hike beer taste awful nice. The kayaking day was beautiful but marred by our decision to use a double kayak. Or as they should be known, “Murder Boats”, because after about 5 minutes in a double kayak you want to bludgeon each other to death. Get the single. The last day we did the rafting option because the rope course was rained out. Not only did we not die, we ended up having a lot of fun cruising on glacial water through downtown Chamonix. On the free day in Courmayeur, I did the via ferrates up Mont Chetif, which was fun. The hike to the top was the toughest hiking of the trip. I would recommend planning your off day before the trip rather than on the fly. The via ferrates does sell out.

    MEALS: There was cheese LITERALLY everywhere. If you don’t like cheese like me, just keep quiet about it. Those French obsess over cheese like there is alcohol in it. The lunch spots were transcendent. That’s when you could feel truly present in the Alps. Whatever crap you had waiting back home, like say … Ellen in HR who is pretty much just the worst (don’t worry, she’ll never read this. I bet she drowns kittens on vacation. She. Is. The. Worst.), all that stuff melts away. The dinners were local and delightful.

    HOTELS: The accommodations are essentially ski lodges. We had hot showers, warm beds and beers. A few places had pools & hot tubs. They were all close to our hikes which cut down on van time, which I’m sure disappointed my trip mates because they probably enjoyed my daily dissertations on the importance of hair metal in American culture #Cinderella.

    Overall, these Active folks know what they are doing and you will have fun on this trip. Maybe I’ll get to meet you on one of their other trips I’m sure we’ll be signing up for in the future … Patagonia hmmm? I’ll be the one talking about David Lee Roth.

    Best,
    Neil C
    ~~~
    Jean-Marie (Driver): I think they based the “Most Interesting Man in the World” ad campaign on this guy. If he is a part of your group, sit next to him during meals and buy him wine. Get him to talk, his life is amazing. We had a guy on our trip that did 28 marathons, 33 triathlons, was a licensed pilot, spoke French, played hockey … ON ICE and that dude wanted to hear more from Jean-Marie. I shouldn’t even be allowed to read his biography (and there was a rumor he was going to write one)! He’s THAT interesting. One of the day off options should be, “Go drinking with Jean Marie”. I’d do the trip all over again if they added that. It was an injustice that he carried my bags. At least my bag was light #manpacking
    Neil Crossan Review Image
    – California, United States
    Tour du Mont Blanc, October 2016

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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