Three incentive trips for Australian club Tradies in the spectacular Nelson-Marlborough region.

Every transport connection, every meal and most importantly every individual that we came into contact with was absolutely first rate.

Tim McAleer, Tradies

The Company
Originally a Trade Union club, Tradies has for more than 50 years been an important pillar in its communities, not only providing monetary support for community organisations and sporting groups but also as a venue where members and guests can get together. Tradies has two venues in Sydney at Gymea and Caringbah.

The Brief
Before Tradies approached Simply Wild Journeys, which specialises in luxury travel and adventure experiences in Nelson and Marlborough, the club had done multi-day rafting trips near Port Douglas in Queensland, a multi-day cattle muster and camping in Victoria and other similar trips. But in 2010 Tradies operations manager Jason McMaster was looking for accessible locations because of their appeal to Australians with “chronic distance fatigue”. He said Simply Wild provided exactly what the club was looking for – a five-day multi-active escape incorporating wilderness environments without long, secondary flights or car trips.

The Location
Held over three different trips for three separate teams; two of the groups visited the Abel Tasman and Kahurangi national parks in 2010 and 2012. The third completed a Marlborough Sounds trip in 2013. The two national parks offer a variety of exhilarating activities including helirafting, sailing, kayaking, swimming, mountain biking, hiking, and walking over the famous Heaphy Track. The Marlborough Sounds is an intricate maze of waterways made up of three sounds, Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus sounds. The area features pristine native forest and a myriad of bays, coves and inlets perfect for exploring by sea kayak.

The Event
The itineraries for these trips were broken up according to the destination. Flying into Nelson from Sydney, via Wellington, delegates headed straight for a two-hour traditional Maori waka (canoe) paddle to meet yachts anchored in the Abel Tasman National Park, where they slept for the night. On the Marlborough excursion delegates flew into Picton in the same manner, checking out the South Island port town before cruising to the Bay of Many Coves, eating dinner and sleeping on the vessel. The next day the group sailed to the outer Queen Charlotte Sound and indulged in some sea kayaking, mountain biking and hiking in some New Zealand’s most beautiful waterways. Day two in the Abel Tasman began with sea kayaking the rocky coastline, stopping for a picnic before sailing to the evening’s accommodation at Awaroa Ecolodge. A helicopter ride across the Kahurangi National Park started the morning before a walk through the Heaphy Track stopping overnight at Last Resort Lodge in the country’s most remote village. Day three in the Marlborough Sounds involved a challenging trek which takes in panoramic views of Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru sounds. The next day brought more paddling, swimming and mountain biking in tranquil surroundings. The Nelson group rafted the Karamea River, one of the top ten wilderness expedition rafting trips, and had to brace themselves for between grade 3 and 5 rapids. It was a fitting end to a thrilling journey.

What it means to Tradies
Mr McMaster praised the Simply Wild incentives as a great way for the club to bond, saying the multi-activity programmes aligned perfectly with Tradies’ organisational objectives. ‘‘They provide insights for the senior team into other members of the group, ’’ he said. ‘‘[It’s] an opportunity to assess the character of new people and see how members of the team react when they’re put in certain situations.” Mr McMaster said the group learned a lot about each other while in such an inspiring and, in some parts, physically demanding environment. He said the club was already looking forward to its next visit.

Tradies Group chief executive officer Tim McAleer said every aspect of organization on the adventures went without a hitch. “Every transport connection, every meal and most importantly every individual that we came into contact with was absolutely first rate,” Mr McAleer said. “We were impressed not only with their skill level and their very personal concern for our wellbeing, but also their easygoing and typical Kiwi friendly demeanor.”