When a view becomes Insta-famous, influencers and those wanting the perfect feed appear. They take their carefully posed photo, and leave. Rob wanted more than this shallow, superficial connection with the NZ landscape.
Rob Frost has always had a connection with NZ’s land. His career as a geotechnical engineer meant he needed a deep understanding of the local landscape on a technical level, and our functional relationship with it. But in 2014, he embarked on a journey that would see his love of Aotearoa increase, and his whole life change direction.
For five years, Rob painstakingly researched and wrote Aoraki Tai Poutini, the guidebook for Mount Cook and Westland. This went on to win the guidebook award at Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in 2019, a prestigious internationally recognised competition that celebrates mountain literature.
So many years exploring and writing about NZ’s tough backcountry, mountainous, and often inhospitable terrain led Rob down a less-travelled road. He quit his job and started Mountain Journeys, a guiding business that takes people off the Instagram circuit, and much deeper into NZ’s incredible countryside.
It’s a journey, not a destination
Rob wanted to create journeys that took people deep into NZ, providing a unique perspective. But first, he needed to jump through a series of regulatory hoops.
He began by passing his Alpine Trekking Guide (ATG) Level 1 through the NZ Mountain Guides Association. Then, he drafted his Safety Management System (SMS). He spent time with DOC n several of their regional offices, discussing the type of trips, any impact they might have on the environment, and how he could minimise or remove any effects.
The next step is obtaining his level 2 ATG certification, so that he can provide guided trips with maximum flexibility, far beyond the well-known paths.
Along the way, it’s been important to take a range of expertise on board from others. Author and tramper-extraordinaire Geoff Spearpoint was invaluable for his knowledge of out-of-the-way routes. This helped Rob plan the incredible, unique and isolated trips that are already gaining a cult following.
Giving keen adventurers more with Mountain Journeys
The NZ outdoors offers so much. For those inclined, river crossings, snow or navigation skills can be learned or honed. Hunters and photographers can go to remote locations that provide rare opportunities to indulge their passion amidst some of the world’s most isolated and beautiful scenery. Some of NZ’s most experienced and respected transalpine guides are joining Rob, creating a highly knowledgeable (and fun) team.
Mountain Journeys is about people achieving real personal goals, not ticking another Insta-destination off. Rob created adventures into the less-travelled places that take some effort to get to. There’s no helicopters in and out, it’s just your legs taking you through native vegetation and into the inhospitable NZ alpine land.
From two to three day trips, six hours a day, camping on open ridgelines, through to week long off-track twelve hour slogs for the technical and advanced tramper, he’s created adventures that get people far from their comfort zones. Because no-one grows, learns, or changes if they do what they’ve always done.
Adventure in comfort with high-performing clothing
Part of Rob’s journey has been finding the gear that works best in NZ’s challenging climates. He’s partnered with Earth Sea Sky in order to be able to have NZ-made, sustainable clothes that perform well in the wet, cold, windy, and hot NZ environment (often all within ten minutes).
Part of being safe outdoors in NZ is being prepared. Layers of clothing are important to keep cool when active and the sun is out, and then stay warm when the southerly starts ripping off Antarctica.
Next to the skin, he likes the silk weight long sleeve zip polo, due to the light, soft fabric. It breathes well when you’re active and warm, but used as a layer is warm and cosy, all without bad smells. Its polo neck is ideal for cushioning against a camera strap too.
His other layering favourites include the ‘Replay’ is a lightweight thermal that layers up well, and adds super warmth without bulk. The light weight Power Dry long sleeve is a fast-drying, soft and durable thermal layer that works in summer and winter. Stealth is a light thermal top that is an excellent insulation layer for any tramping adventure. Another top layer that works as hard as you do is the Helium II. Fleece that is light, compact and supremely functional sees Rob through many adventures.
The other essentials he’s learned to trust for the outer layer include the Traverse Overtrou, which are super easy to put on and take off, and versatile enough to take you from forest to mountaintop. The side zips run from ankle to knee, to allow easy access over tramping boots. The Zeal Guide is a heavier weight jacket with abrasion resistance, so even if the wind is sandblasting through the valley, you’re still comfortable.
On the bottom half, Taslan shorts over Spider leggings have been part of Rob’s kit for a while, and for good reason. This base layer is strong enough to stand up to the scrub bashing, but comfy, warm and quick-drying too.
Sustainable, eco-positive exploring
Rob does more than just tramp. He takes his companions far beyond their imaginations, where the magical Kiwi landscape challenges and changes even the toughest person. And, he does it wearing Earth Sea Sky, knowing it not only is technically the best option, but is sustainable and made in NZ.
Together, Rob and Earth Sea Sky are a match made in the most beautiful, but inhospitable of environments.