Mike Davies has seen Wilderness’ Christchurch base grow from a small four-person operation to a bustling team of 20, where visitors from all around the world are welcomed regularly as they prepare to head off on their New Zealand adventures in a Wilderness motorhome.
Mike is the Adventure Support Manager at Wilderness Christchurch and has lived in the city for 15 years. Originally from Rotorua, Mike left his role as a Financial Manager for a property maintenance company to join Wilderness six years ago, as a friend of his was working there. In those early days, the two of them cleaned and took care of the motorhomes and handed them over to guests. “We were basically running everything out of a tiny little gravel yard in Christchurch, so it’s grown hugely in the past six years”, he says.
Leading the Adventure Support team means always looking for new ways to improve the guest experience and making sure that everybody leaves with a smile on their faces. And while Mike’s role puts him behind a desk more these days, chatting to guests is still one of his favourite parts of the job. “I love hearing the guests’ stories when they come back – telling us where they’ve been and all the cool spots they found. I always try to make a point of going down and having a yarn with people whenever I can.”
Before he joined Wilderness, Mike describes his campervanning experience as “zero”, but says that soon changed and he loved visiting the huge range of festivals round the South Island in the Wilderness campervans. “My mates would be setting up their tents and I’d just roll in and park up with the cold beers in the fridge all ready to rock!” he laughs. Since then, he says he has pretty much explored most of the South Island by campervan, but always finds himself going back to Wanaka. “I just love it!”
Mike’s top tips
“Try to do as much freedom camping as you possibly can. Don’t be afraid of it. I think that’s the apprehension that a lot of people come in with. Try not to plan every single hour of your adventure, either. Leave yourself some room for flexibility to explore. And chuck some bikes on the back!”
Mike’s favourite motorhome spots
“I love Wanaka, and then further north Lake Pukaki is spectacular and has some great freedom camping spots. Going around The Catlins is good too, especially if you’re freedom camping. There’s a spot called Fortrose on the southern coast at the mouth of the Mataura River and it’s stunning – you can get some pretty wild weather though!”