Claire Hesselin

New Zealand & Nepal Guide

Claire was born in Invercargill (the southernmost city in New Zealand) and grew up in the nearby town of Gore. Adventure’s always been on her doorstep, she spends a lot of her spare time exploring the nearby Catlins, as well as the rivers and mountains of the Southland region. She speaks English and basic Spanish, while her hobbies include hiking, biking and kayaking into some of the most stunning parts of the world… basically everything she does here at Active! She also enjoys sailing, fishing, cooking, music, playing sports and creating an amazing veggie garden.

Greatest adventure memory? "It’s hard to pin down - there’s so many!". One that stands out is a 3 night/4 day sea kayaking trip with 8 of her friends around Stewart Island (just off the South Coast of New Zealand’s South Island). One night they shared a mountain hut with a group of 8 deer stalkers, they exchanged fresh fish for venison and compared adventure stories before an evening full of robust discussion and singalongs! After a sleepless night (due to snoring hunters) they bid each other fond farewells and the hunters helped them launch their kayaks. The two groups were from quite different walks of life but they all came together through sharing a love for the outdoors, in this amazing place that is Stewart Island.

Before guiding with Active, Claire worked as a Youth Mental Health and Addictions clinician (she trained as a social worker and she’s been working with youth for the past 9 years).

Favourite quote: “I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship” – Louise May Alcott

Claire Hesselin

Testimonials

“AMAZING. Her knowledge of New Zealand and the South Island is incredible. She is an absolute asset to your team. Claire went above and beyond to make sure each and every one of us was having a great time. She was enthusiastic about every activity and her commentary as we were driving through different landscapes about history, legends, etc., was fantastic. She got to know each of us personally and made sure we got the most out of our trip.”
- Tessa Humphries (victoria, British Columbia, Canada), Tui October 2018

“Claire gets my vote as the ultimate all time guide. She was fun to be with, knew her stuff, could answer any questions and would make touring the garbage dump fun.”
- James Costello (Port Townsend, Washington, United States), Beautiful South December 2017

“Claire is an OUTSTANDING guide and the epitome of professionalism. She is a natural leader, strong and fit as hell, patient, caring, passionate about sharing her beautiful country, an amazing driver, and so incredibly knowledgeable about everything I threw at her question-wise (history, culture, places to explore, food, you name it!). I honestly cannot speak highly enough her or recommend her more strongly. She worked her ass off for us so that we were able to do so much, so seemlessly, in such a short period of time and for that, I am eternally grateful. She made this trip. Period. I would go on an adventure with her anywhere, anytime, and I say that of very very few people (most of whom I've climbed with and known for years). Claire is a quality person who is an exceptional guide. She is very much an asset to Active Adventures as well as an advocate for New Zealand as a whole. ”
- Christina Gan (Seattle, Washington, United States), Tui December 2016

Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16218 reviews)

    South Island Rimu Trip

    My South Island trip was outstanding, even with the cyclone that came ashore on the second day! The itinerary needed to be changed because of all the washed out roads to places that we were suppose to venture to. Our guides, Jackie and Carrie, came up with new plans that were great. A mark of a good company is when they can handle unexpected events, such as a cyclone, and still provide their guest with a trip of a life time. Thank you A.A. for a great and safe trip!
    Pete Orefice Review Image
    – Connecticut, United States
    Rimu, February 2018
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16218 reviews)

    Winter Rimu to Remember

    Coming from a small island which is tropical year around, I didn't expect to have a wonderful winter experience. We had amazing adventures all around the southern island from hikes, kayaking, and food. Everything was well planned out. Even when obstacles with the weather occurred, their alternate plans were just as amazing! Mel and Gary were our guides. These two are the best in each their own. They both displayed great hospitality and patience. I've learned so much about New Zealand while trekking with a great company. Overall, I would return to New Zealand to do more adventures.
    Eliseo Silverio Review Image
    – GUAM, Guam
    Winter Rimu, August 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16218 reviews)

    Trip of a Lifetime!

    I am still basking in the glow from this remarkable trip! I admit that I was a bit nervous at first as I was the oldest person in our group and not as fit (for hiking) as some in the group, so I worried about 'keeping up' on the hikes - especially the steeper climbs. Ben and Lauren were very reassuring and encouraging and I felt that I was able to 'hold my own'. In fact, while the hiking was probably the most challenging I've done in at least 7 years, it was the most rewarding/exhilarating part for me. I loved our group - a very positive, health-conscious and fun group of people from all walks of life. It was also wonderful that we were only 12 people - it helped to create a much more intimate and personal atmosphere. I felt we bonded together well - again, thanks to Ben and Lauren's great skills with ice-breaking, fun games, and ability to set and maintain a positive atmosphere from the beginning.
    From the moment we set off from the airport to the emotional farewells back at the airport at the end of the trip, this was a top notch adventure. Our transportation was comfortable, our accommodations were always different and unique and very comfortable - I loved that they weren't all in your standard hotel and that some of them were really off the beaten track. The food was amazing - from the snack basket in the van, loaded fresh every day with fruit and other snacks, to the amazing meals that Lauren and Ben created and the breakfasts and dinners that we had at various restaurants - there was a lot of variety, special dietary considerations were accounted for and there was lots of it!
    I did the kayak option and it was outstanding. The B&B and our hosts were wonderful (the hot tub at the end of the day was most appealing!) and our kayak guide, Nick was terrific - very accommodating, skilled and he made it all very interesting and fun!
    I cannot say enough about our incredible guides - Ben and Lauren - they truly moved the bar for me from a great trip to one that will go down in history for me as the trip of a lifetime. They were so knowledgeable about the island - I loved listening to the legends/folklore and learning more about the vegetation, birds, etc. Ben was a terrific driver - I always felt safe. Lauren was terrific with her cooking and meal presentations - meals looked fantastic and tasted even better! Both Ben and Lauren added those special touches from decorating the bus for the Christmas season, organizing our Secret Santa, making a fantastic Christmas morning breakfast, complete with Christmas crackers and special hats, managing extra logistics like re-booking the paragliding for us, setting up the helicopter tour, taking the time and effort to help reconnect people with items they had left behind either in our accommodations or on a hike/kayak. They even had the perfect music for when we went through the Homer Tunnel and down into Milford Sound - the combination of the music and the scenery was so moving it had several of us in tears! They really ensured that they got to know each person and took a genuine interest in each person. Their positive energy and enthusiasm was infectious. They took kindness and customer service to a new level! The scenery was breathtaking everywhere we went. It would be hard for me to say what the favourite part was or favourite view as the South Island is simply spectacular. I felt that the trip was organized in such a way that I really got a good feel and appreciation for the South Island. Truly New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places (both 'inside and out') that I have ever visited (and I've visited over 20 other countries around the world). I really loved the more laid-back way of life and the local people we met were so welcoming and kind. I would love to come back again and see the North Island but also re-visit the South Island!
    I highly recommend this trip and have already suggested it to a number of my friends. It really was transformational for me on so many levels! My heartfelt thanks to Ben and Lauren and everyone at Active Adventures!
    Sue Hazell Review Image
    – Ontario, Canada
    Rimu, January 2018
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16218 reviews)

    South Island trip of a lifetime

    An absolutely awesome adventure with fantastic guides Vanessa and Tory. Experiencing parts of the great tramps in New Zealand of Kepler, Routeburn, Mueller Hut, Inland pack track at Punakaiki and Angelus Hut are a great introduction to tramping in NZ. I will definitely be back to complete some of the tramps. The Angelus hut hike was one of the hardest I have done (I hike regularly in Western Australia) and I loved every second of it. I would do the Angelus hut Nelson lakes hike again in a heart beat. The cycle along the Hawea river was stunning. Every day was a highlight of the trip.
    Amie Culverson Review Image
    – Western Australia, Australia
    Rimu, May 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16218 reviews)

    Nov 5 2016 Kiwi with Nick B and Jess

    Active Adventures allowed me to experience the breathtaking beauty of the South Island, New Zealand. I had so much fun. I had really high hopes for the trip of a lifetime before we left. My expectations were not only met but surpassed. Nick and Jess were great as was our small group of fellow travelers. The Active Adventures team were responsive to needs and made the trip care free. I would highly recommend the Kiwi trip and would do it again in a heartbeat. I would also look to do Active Adventures other trips when we go to travel again. At the conclusion of our trip, my wife and I asked ourselves what would we do differently if doing it again. Both of our answers was nothing different.
    Mitch Pfeiffer Review Image
    – Indiana, United States
    Kiwi, December 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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