the story of how packrafting new zealand came to life
Packrafting New Zealand through the years
The company was founded in 2012 by Arno Marten and named Expedition X offering guided tours, on the South Island of New Zealand, with little inflatable boats ( called Packrafts ). It was the time were very few people even heard of packrafts. Expedition x was the first commercial packrafting company offering guided trips and packraft education on the planet, as far as we know.
We realised that packrafting will grow quickly due to the very obvious advantages and Expedition X started trading as Packrafting New Zealand in 2013.
Since 2012 we guide, teach, live and breath packrafting. Over the years we added our online packrafting shop selling superlight, high quality gear and moved the focus of the company to high end expedition tours and education.
the very beginnings
In the beginnings Arnos idea was to swim down the West cost of New Zealand from Milford sound all the way down to Bluff. A notorious rough part of the ocean. After years of towing backpacks through the water in his past life he decided that something light and inflatable would be a much better solution. Research brought him to Alpacka Raft . They liked his idea of adventure and supplied the very first Packraft and Alpacka Llama.
Training & Expedition
The year 2012 was spend doing lots of little training missions with or without the packraft. Arno done the whole length of the planed west coast swim in bite sized pieces and fell in love with his packraft. On weekends Arno and now wife Anna went for little walks up valleys and since there was only one packraft Arno paddled back and Anna had to walk back. Which later on was part of the reason we had to open a packrafting company.
In September 2012 an attempt was made to do roughly 400 km West cost from Milford sound to Bluff unsupported, with just a couple resupply stops along the way. This adventure was cut short 6 days into the journey as bad weather moved in and a broken tensening backpack strap made going over the hills just that much harder. The decision was made to pick the next good weather window and get a flight back to Milford sound. Obviously mainly to safe some nerves of the girlfriend at the time.
Packrafting New Zealand was born
Since Arno was out of a job at the time the girlfriend mentioned, why don’t you open up a packrafting company. The ulterior motive here was she wanted a packraft as well. The timing could have not any better as alpacka raft brought out their boats with a much pointier backend, which was much more stable and suitable for absolute beginners. The decision was made, the bank also agreed, and we bought our first few packrafts. Official commercial guiding permissions were granted, safety audit passed and Packrafting New Zealand opened its doors to the general public. Back then we called it Expedition X as there were thoughts of combining more outdoors sports then just packrafting. Soon we realized that Packrafting will become the new thing and we changed the name to Packrafting New Zealand.
The move to Te Anau
As from the beginnings we had big plans for the company to be an expedition, education company the move to Te Anau close to the Fiordands was just a matter of time. Although it came a little bit earlier then planed as this american guy contacted us and told us he really liked packrafting and it would be great to do something together. This was one of the first time someone actually new packrafting! So far it was more then new to people other then our friends from Kennicott in Alaska. ( Kennicott Wilderness Guides )
So it was simple, we move parts of Packrafting New Zealand to Te Anau and Andy can run the tours down there. Whilst Arno was running the operation in Queenstown. To train Andy up as a guide Arno had to drive to Te Anau whenever there was a trip going and over time this was even for Arno ( who loves driving ) too much. Packrafting New Zealand moved to Te Anau.
Packrafting New Zealand today
Ever since Andy joined us, he is an integral part of this crazy German/American operation. After some big floods and some inconsiderate virus lockdown interruptions Packrafting New Zealand is still standing and it looks like stronger than ever. We continue to be a small operation offering value to anyone who wants to get into packrafting. Over the years we had to do some major adjusting to the market and the world and it wasn’t easy but we keep moving forward
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