Like many Kiwis from the far South, Mark Dewsbery grew up playing in the outdoors but unlike most, he was lucky enough to make it his office as well. He began working on high country farms at 16 with just 8-10 dogs and a horse for company. By the age of 24 he had become one of the youngest farm managers in the New Zealand high country and later went abroad to manage cattle stations in Australia and America.
In 1998, he returned home to sell up everything he had in order to scrape together a small sum and go to the bank with an idea for converting a sheep station into a cattle station. On little more than his reputation for salvaging the farms he managed, the bank loaned the determined young man the rest to purchase Mt Potts station, a faltering 9,700-hectare high-country sheep farm in the Southern Alps with an unprofitable history. With plenty of hard work and ingenuity, the gamble paid off.
In addition to farming duties, Mark started up the only snowcat skiing operation in NZ at the time while on Mt Potts. This progressed into opening Heli Park NZ (the first of its kind in the world) and was later complemented by Southern Alps Heli-ski, where Mark guided for six seasons including several trips to France. As always, when he wasn’t out in the hills tending to the stock or carving fresh tracks on the slopes, Mark was out hunting, tramping, rock climbing and mountaineering.
Then one day, location scouts came knocking and for the next 18 months, the cast and crew of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ film trilogy, often numbering in the hundreds, set up camp on the property to build elaborate sets that would transform the naturally dramatic landscape into Edoras, Tolkein’s fortress city of the Rohan people. The success of the films brought thousands more loyal fans who, more than a decade on, still arrive daily at the farm to relive the fantasy.
But never one to sit still, after 26 years of high-country farming, Mark sold Mt Potts in 2010 and moved to Queenstown ready to take on new challenges. Alpine Adventures was born after a chance encounter with the owner of a leading luxury inbound tour operator who helped broker the Mt Potts deal on behalf of one of his clients and began calling on Mark when clients asked for a private hiking guide. Mark’s humble demeanor, encyclopedic knowledge of New Zealand’s backcountry and his ability to manage risk effectively while intuitively knowing when to nudge his clients beyond their comfort zone soon made him a favourite with their VIP guests.
Alpine Adventures is based in Queenstown where Mark enjoys exploring the backcountry on foot during the warmer months, either on solo missions off-piste with his black Labrador or sharing a few ‘yarns’ and his passion for the outdoors with his clients. In the winter, he trades hiking boots for ski boots in his role as Operations Manager for Soho Basin, Queenstown’s newest boutique ski field.
- More than 25 years experience hiking in the New Zealand backcountry and alpine areas.
- Trained in advanced First Aid and qualified to provide pre-hospital emergency care (PHEC)
- Completed New Zealand Mountain Guides Association Mountain Skills and Ski Tech courses
- Involvement with Search and Rescue
- Heli-ski guide experience: managing clients and equipment in and around helicopters, guiding and managing clients in a dynamic alpine terrain, hazard identification and assessment, decision making, effective communication, navigation, as well as weather observations and knowledge.
- Ski patrol experience: attending to and managing 5 accidents and injuries a day on average.
- NZQA Avalanche stage one qualification
- Private pilot license, fixed wing aircraft and paragliding
Behind the Scenes
There’s an organised woman behind every successful man I reckon, and I’m no exception. Pamela Bramwell lent her considerable travel industry experience to the launch of Alpine Adventures and continues to find the right words to bring an experience to life, update the website, keep an eye on the inbox and triple check each itinerary and booking for me. Pamela has been based in Queenstown since 2001, which makes her a local by Queenstown standards despite her lingering American accent. She’s the one who makes sure nothing falls through the cracks while I’m in the hills and that you’ll always get a prompt response to whatever you need, even during our busiest times.