From Munich to Marlborough to Tasman: the life of an adventure travel guide
Lea Kilgenstein will be working as a kayak guide in the Abel Tasman this summer.
Kayaking guide Lea Kilgenstein is looking forward to her first summer on the water in Abel Tasman National Park.
Originally from Munich, Germany, Kilgenstein has spent the past four years traveling back and forth from New Zealand and is familiar with the national tourism industry – she wrote her bachelor’s thesis in anthropology from Ludwig Maximillian University on the role that Maori culture plays in New Zealand. tourism.
“I was trying to find out if the Maori experiences, in Rotorua for example, are a commercialization of culture or if it’s the other way around, if you culturalize commerce, and if that’s a good thing or a bad thing”, said Kilgenstein.
“I really think it’s a good thing. In general, one always wonders how genuine it is, but most of these companies are organized by iwi and most of the time the profits go to iwi as well.
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Through her studies, Kilgenstein learned concepts in te ao Māori such as kaitiakitanga (guardianship), which she says plays a “huge role” in Aotearoa tourism.
“It’s about protecting the environment in the future. I think it’s good that there are certain lines that you don’t cross, places that you can’t go. New Zealand is the way it is because concepts like this are an integral part of tourism.”
Kilgenstein first came to New Zealand to complete her studies and have a working holiday.
Her first job in 2018 was as a travel consultant at ANZ Nature Tours, which organizes tours for German speakers.
She then moved on to Flying Kiwi, where she met other guides who recommended the adventure tourism courses offered at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT).
As a result, she earned her degree along with two other qualifications from NMIT – the Certificate and Diploma in Adventure Tourism and Guiding.
“My original focus was on a working holiday, but once I entered the industry and started studying, I could see there were endless opportunities to do more and more. “, she said.
“I didn’t really plan it as a career, but I love it now.”
Since the end of the ski season and his job as a snowboard instructor at The Remarkables, Kilgenstein has spent a month guiding kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds and has now started a new role as a summer kayak guide in the park. National Abel Tasman.
She said most of her guests at Marlborough were young Germans, who enjoyed nature, hiking and “not many people”.