My last tour of the 2019/20 summer season ended up being a Private Wellington 2 day LOTR tour on the 19th of March. A week later all tours for the rest of the season had been cancelled, and New Zealand went into lockdown for several weeks. Enquiries were replaced with cancellations and at this stage all bookings I had for next season are gone too. I did enjoy a lovely half day city tour last month, thanks to one of my hotel concierge friends calling last minute, and that was the only touring I’ve done in more than 4 months.
The good (great!) news is that on the 21st of April, right in the middle of lockdown, we had a baby! Felix was born healthy and beautiful at Wellington Hospital. I was allowed to be there for the birth, but had to go home alone 2 hours after the birth. Mum and baby came home a couple of days later, and we enjoyed the time in isolation getting to know our new baby, and taking the occasional nervous trip to the supermarket. It’s also been a time for reflection, and a chance to examine priorities. I want to enjoy as much of this family time as possible. Even before the COVID pandemic hit, I was thinking I would do less multi-day touring and focus on Wellington day tours, and chauffeur work through my Obsidian New Zealand business. With zero business on the books, and a very uncertain future, it’s clear that even this isn’t a sustainable option.
Now we come to it…
I’ve decided that MiketheGuide needs to take a back seat for the foreseeable future, and tomorrow the 3rd of August, I start a full time job, working for Shopify as a Support Advisor. I get to work from home, and I will be able to keep working in tourism on the side. I’m very excited to start this new job, and develop some new skills!
I LOVE what I do as a guide, and I’m privileged to have enjoyed this career for as long as I have. It’s only in the last couple of years that the business really hit its stride and felt like it was growing to something that could sustain us financially. I had grand visions of growing a team with an office and depot, and multiple vehicles running daily, all that good stuff. It turns out I’m really lucky that I didn’t have any employees or a commercial lease coming into 2020.
Now, what I plan to do is to keep offering Wellington tours, VIP transfers and private chauffeured car services under through Obsidian New Zealand. I’ll also make my beautiful luxury 8 seat Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van available as a rental to (appropriately licensed) colleagues and industry professionals. MiketheGuide.com will stay active (perhaps that should read GET active – as I’ve never posted enough in here). I’m not sure what this will ultimately look like, but I see it initially becoming a knowledge base and resource for travellers. I also expect to be able to guide the occasional day tour on weekends, and maybe even do some evening/early morning transfers for corporate/govt clients.
Please understand – none of this is making me sad. So much of what has happened is out of our control, I’ve chosen a new direction and I’ll march towards the future with confidence. I will miss getting to meet so many amazing people, and regularly travel to the most beautiful parts of the country, but there’s no saying I won’t go back to guiding in the future. I’ve made so many friends since guiding my first tour for Nomad Safaris in 2002. Whether we met at Nomad Safaris, Flat Earth Tours, Wellington Rover, Moatrek, MiketheGuide.com or Obsidian New Zealand, as guests or colleagues, I appreciate you all and I’m excited to continue with you on this adventure to see where we all end up!