Our Team

A bunch of legends, basically

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Zach Johnston

“"I love turning fear of the unknown into curiosity”
Director - Programs
“I’m passionate about travel, exploration and adventure. It’s the most exhilarating feeling available, brings us alive and inspires us to connect with ourselves, others, work, family and friends. Travel and Adventure open and strengthen the mind, expanding our perspective to make informed decisions that positively affect opportunities that come our way. I love turning fear of the unknown into curiosity and wonderment.”

Zach is a former military officer, Senior Instructor Leadership Development, General Manager in the Tourism Industry; Field Based Outdoor Educator, International Expedition Leader and Operational Ambulance Officer with extensive travel experience in 3rd world, developing and developed countries.
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Kerie Stewart

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us! ”
Senior Program Advisor
Kerie has worked in the Outdoor Education and Adventure Travel industry for the last 8 years, assisting young men and women from all over the world in chasing their dreams and working towards constructive train, work and travel programs. Over the course of the previous 10 years Kerie worked in corporate client and account management.

NZ born and bred, Kerie has spent her time living between Queenstown and Auckland along with a few stints in the French alps. A skier and snowboarder at heart! Her passion is giving the best advice and assistance possible to help those looking to venture out for the next step in their lives!
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Nicky Sygrove

“Nothing comes from nothing”
Marketing Manager
After working in marketing roles for the last 8 years, Nicky is loving working for Pure Ex and helping people get into an industry she wishes she trained in.

When not working in her spare time she enjoys hiking, snowboarding, drinking red wine and hanging out with her family.

Ivor Levin

“If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you're lucky enough”
Program Manager / Senior Instructor
Ivor spends his time trying to live sustainably in the small town of Luggate, near Lake Wanaka. He has completed 14 expeditions to Nepal, and further expeditions into Africa, Mongolia, and South America.

After spending close to a decade teaching Outdoor Education at a Polytechnic, he can be found hanging off the sides of oil rigs at sea, or at a local climbing crag.

With plenty of experience and a masters degree, Ivor is a program manager and senior guide for Pure Exploration.
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Kaylee Pickett

“When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life”
Intern Extrordinaire
Kaylee comes from Colorado, where she grew up with a fierce love for snow and all the ways to slide down it, a passion for the outdoors, and a serious adrenaline addiction. After completing a degree in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism, she came to New Zealand to work in the outdoor industry.

Kaylee earned her NZOIA Rock, Bush, and Abseil leader qualifications after completing the Adventure Guide Internship in 2017. Splitting her time between Pure Exploration and Climbing Queenstown, she spends her days dangling from ropes and helping people from around the world get to Queenstown to pursue life as an adventure guide.
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Mike Bilodeau

“Keep your fluids up 'eh'!”
Leader / Program Adviser
Mike hasn't stopped travelling and adventuring since he left Canada almost a decade ago! A passionate environmentalist, he craves opportunities to share his interests in travel, exploring, culture and the natural environment. People and places are what fuels his tireless energy for the participants he leads, his friends and family.

A hiking and kayaking enthusiast, he has a natural affinity and empathy for people, making him an absolutely genuine great guy to have around in any situation.

Just be wary of his love for pranks and making everyday situations hilarious.
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Jeff Kennedy

“Keep It Real, But Always Fun”
Leader & Instructor
Jeff started life with a university degree in Paramedicine, becoming a Fire Fighter Paramedic. A Southern Californian, he only likes to leave warm weather and beaches behind when it's to inspire young people, trek and climb in the mountains or travel to far afield destinations.
Female Leader Climbing

Heidi Almendinger

“Germany has Bread: NZ everything else”
Leader & Instructor
Heidi is a Secondary teacher by trade, however her travel and outdoors lifestyle has led her into Pure Exploration. She gets to fulfill her passion with helping us experience both living, and potential; while satisfying her cravings for developing world travel, adventure and NZ's infamous Kiwi lifestyle.
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Martin Maddocks

“Adventure is fertilizer to potential”
Leader & Instructor
Martin is from the UK, and has been travelling incessantly through South East Asia and Australasia for a number of years now. An Outdoors Instructor specialising in White Water Paddling and Rock Climbing, his best memories are paddling the big water in Africa for a summer. His ambition is to paddle a remote river in Nepal.

For now he loves watching people have their individual 'light bulb' moments when they realise just how much the world can change your perspective on life, or how much adventuring makes you learn about yourself and your limits.