Archives For Queenstown

On this day in 1988 the first customer paid to bungy jump off of the historic Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge near Queenstown.

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Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Today we profile Susie Geh, Partnerships Ranger in Queenstown.

At work

Some things I do in my job include:

I am currently working on an education package for the Wakatipu, trying to grow volunteering in the district, being creative with our events, and still processing the odd permit every now and then.

Susie and friends dancing on the Kepler Track with mountains in the background.

Dancing on the Kepler

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

There is so much passion for conservation in DOC and my job is to try and share that with the rest of New Zealand. It’s not just about getting more people interested in conservation it’s also about changing people’s perceptions of what being involved in conservation means; you don’t have to be perfect you just have to try and do your bit.

The best bit about my job is:

The people without a doubt. My immediate team are great (and that’s not just because they feed me cake). I’ve also been lucky enough to meet some incredible individuals who are making a real difference to conservation in the community.

Cupcake shaped like a sheep.

Sheep cupcake

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is:

I need to mention two people for this one (maths isn’t my strong point). Firstly it would be the late Barry Lawrence, who was an inspiration as a conservation leader and just a great guy to be around. Everyone who knew him has many entertaining and inspiring Barry stories to tell. Second would be my current boss Greg Lind; his ability to lead, support and listen is incredible and I feel lucky to work for him. Plus he is always game to dress up as a miner/jailbird as required!

Susie with Barry Lawrence.

With Barry Lawrence in 2009 when I had just started with DOC

On a personal note…

Susie as a young girl with ginger hair.

So I am ginger after all

Most people don’t know that:

I am ginger. Oh, um maybe it’s a bit more obvious than I thought. How about that I have a cave in Japan named after me—Susie’s Secret Bonsai Garden (my Dad was a cave diver for many years).

The song that always cheers me up is:

Again my maths will fail as there are a few. Groove Armada “I see you baby”, Mr Scruff “Whalefish Song” and Pharrell Williams “Happy Song” (even more so now it makes me think of dancing on the Kepler).

My stomping ground is:

Currently anywhere we can get to from our doorstep in Arrowtown. I love that I can go for a hike into the hills without even getting in my car.

The best piece of news I’ve heard lately is:

That my family are coming to visit at Christmas. I like it when the world gets smaller again.

My secret indulgence is:

Not a secret and if you have it daily it’s probably not an indulgence but it would have to be chocolate, cake, sweets and anything which involves sugar. I can make a pretty impressive cupcake!

Deep and meaningful…

Susie and friends at a frozen lake on the Routeburn Track.

One of my favourite spots – the Routeburn

My favourite quote is:

“We’re in the stickiest situation since sticky the stick insect got stuck on a sticky bun.” Blackadder

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is:

Look forward not back!

In work and life I am motivated by:

Family, friends and I have to give special mention to my partner Wes.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

Protect what you have as we actually have the chance to make a real difference. In 1,000 years I always  wonder what New Zealand will look and hope that we’ve had the wisdom to do things differently.

Susie walking through snow in the Crown Range.

Exploring from my own doorstep – the Crown Range

Question of the week…

As Queenstown is the home of extreme activities—what’s the most ‘extreme’ thing you have ever done?

My version of extreme doesn’t fit the Queenstown stereotype but it would have to be diving in the Marlborough Sounds. It was a beautiful day and I had an awesome dive, one of my deepest ever, when I came up and was on the boat a pod of dolphins surrounded us and as we headed back to shore I swear I saw two blue penguins swim by. That’s my version of extreme—hardcore happiness!

Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Today we profile Kaja Vetter, Visitor Centre Supervisor in Queenstown.

Kaja Vetter outside Sam Summers Hut.

Outside Sam Summers Hut

At work

Some things I do in my job include… keeping my team happy, dealing with retail and rosters and budgets and providing information to visitors to the area.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision because… the more visitors enjoy their outdoor experience, the more they will value New Zealand’s natural treasures and the more they will want to protect the land!

The best bit about my job is… my tiny sunlightless office… ahh no, not really. The wonderful people I get to work with every day!

The loveliest DOC moment I’ve had so far is… back in the days when we took intentions, Visitor Centre staff spent considerable time tracking down people who hadn’t returned their intention slips. This happened every day in summer, so was nothing out of the ordinary. I finally got hold of this one particular couple on the phone and thus knew they were safe, and gave them the usual—slightly stern—spiel about their responsibilities when leaving intentions with the department. They were so mortified that the next day they appeared with a box of chocolates to apologise—how lovely is that!

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is… my boss, Greg Lind. He is inspiring, forward thinking and whatever life throws at him, he stays positive. His leadership is extraordinary and I feel privileged to work for him.

Kaja Vetter and friends doing yoga on a mountain.

Hiking up a mountain to do yoga

On a personal note…

The song that always cheers me up is… Beauty Beats by Beats Antique – electronic meets world music, brilliant! And Let’s Groove by Earth Wind and Fire. Disco is made to make people happy!

My greatest sporting moment so far was when… a couple of year’s back I could finally do a yoga arm balance called Astavakrasana (which means eight angle pose in Sanskrit!). A lot of yoga teachers have the “When I can finally do this pose, I will be a REAL yoga teacher” thing going on – Astavakrasana was mine. Now I like doing it on mountain tops etc!

In my spare time I… teach yoga and dance. Wonderfully complimentary to running a Visitor Centre!

Kaja Vetter and a friend cross the river.

Crossing a river on the way to Cascade Saddle

My secret indulgence is… red meat. Recently I spent 10 days in Bali. After a week of fish and veggies I started having night time dreams about lamb and steak! About two hours after I landed back in New Zealand I devoured a couple of lamb shanks.

Before working at DOC I… professionally played bass guitar in a girl band, then designed and programmed websites.

Kaja Vetter and a friend at Martins Bay at sunset.

Sunset at Martins Bay

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is… “Be the change you want to see in the world” by Mahatma Gandhi.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… to follow my heart. Even if my mind freaks out because something appears so scary (like moving to the other side of the world all by myself!), following my heart in choice of country, occupation and love has always turned out well!

In work and life I am motivated by… I am doing my best to make my life (and others’) as interesting as possible—through humour (even zough us Germans do not know what zat is!), hard work, deep and meaningful conversations or the right choice of background music!

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… value and protect what you have! I grew up with poisoned rivers and sickly nature around. Coming here and experiencing how different life is when the land around you is healthy was the biggest eye opener. If we don’t have a planet, there is no point to anything, really!

Kaja Vetter doing yoga in Mt Aspiring National Park.

The Astavakrasana yoga pose by Lake Crucible in Mt Aspiring National Park

Question of the week…

If given a chance, who would you like to be for a day?
I’d swap places with someone I dislike and disagree with to understand what is going on inside and where they are coming from. George W. Bush comes to mind. I read his autobiography for that very reason and was shocked that already in the first chapter I had things in common with him—he doesn’t drink alcohol anymore out of choice, neither do I. Against my expectation and inclination I couldn’t help developing more understanding and respect throughout the course of the book.