Hollie Woodhouse is a Christchurch-based endurance athlete, adventurer and graphic designer. Raised on a farm in Mid-Canterbury, near Ashburton, she spent her childhood outside exploring our region’s mountains and rivers. Hollie has competed in some of the most gruelling adventure races on the planet – from the 260km Marathon Des Sables in the Sahara Desert to the 230km Jungle Ultra through the Amazon – and is the founder of successful adventure magazine Say Yes to Adventure. She recently completed a 560-kilometre ski touring adventure across the Greenland ice cap with three others.
How are you feeling about your Greenland epic now that it has sunk in a bit more?
It still feels quite surreal. To think I spent 29 days walking across Greenland is incredible, but now also so far away as I sip my coffee at my desk. I have a real sense of pride and achievement from completing the expedition.
What was it like to be selected for the Antarctic Heritage Trust's Inspiring Explorer's Expedition from a pool of 200 applicants?
I feel very honoured that the Antarctic Heritage Trust believed in me and my ability to complete this expedition. I made a conscious decision six years ago to do at least one thing each year that challenged me and to put myself in the best position possible so when opportunities like this did appear, I was ready to grab them!
What was the idea behind the expedition?
The Antarctic Heritage Trust’s mission is to conserve, share and encourage the spirit of exploration. The aim of this expedition was to connect young people to the spirit of exploration, something that is critical in the 21st century. We crossed the ice cap in honour of Fridtjof (pronounced FRID-choff) Nansen, who made the first crossing of Greenland 130 years ago in 1888.
Will you be sharing the experience with people in the coming months?
There has been quite a bit of media since I have returned, which has been great for sharing our adventure. From here, I will be sharing my experience through public speaking events, where I hope to in turn inspire others to go out and explore the world around them.
What have you been up to since returning to Christchurch from Greenland – any new adventures on the horizon?
Eating! Haha, I can’t stop! But aside from that, life has returned as usual. I am back at work at The New Zealand Merino Company and enjoying the South Island winter. I do have an adventure planned for next year (under wraps), but I’m also really keen to keep exploring our backyard as much as possible.
What do you think are our city and region’s best attributes?
Easily how lucky we are to have the Port Hills a 15-minute drive from the centre of the city, but also be so close to incredible mountains, rivers and the sea. A day trip or even a half-day trip is so manageable from Christchurch; we have no excuse not to explore the landscape around us.
What are your favourite things to do here in your spare time?
Obviously, I love the outdoor aspect of Christchurch and the surrounding region. But I also enjoy heading to the farmers' markets and meeting friends for coffee. Our city is also becoming a really exciting space to be in, with new restaurants popping up everywhere.
If you had friends visiting from out of town for a few days, where would you take them?
It usually involves a city tour, the contrast between the broken and the new is really intriguing, especially for out-of-towners. Dinner out is also a must, with Little High being a favourite for a casual meal too. And the Port Hills are a great way to get a perspective of the city and surrounding bays. So many options – too many for a weekend!
What is your favourite place to grab a bite to eat in the city? We hear Bacon Bros is up there…
I dreamed of a Bacon Bros ‘Woody’ burger while walking across Greenland – they’re just so damn good! And it was the first thing I ate upon my return. There are so many new places opening though that there isn’t a favourite, rather a solid list that I am slowly making my way through.
What do you like about living in this city/region overall?
I’m a rural girl at heart, and I feel like Christchurch has the best of both worlds. You get the city life with shops and great restaurants while having amazing access to an adventure playground right on our doorstep. The ease of living is a winner.
What are your hopes for Christchurch in the next few years?
There are so many exciting opportunities that have arisen since the earthquakes. The art scene is incredible, and life and vibrancy are coming back into the city. I hope the city keeps growing from here and becomes an international destination, not just a gateway to the South Island. Ironically, my final year paper at University (I studied Landscape Architecture) was based on how to bring life back into Christchurch, specifically Cathedral Square, so I feel incredibly passionate about making the best use out of the opportunity we have in front of us.