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Goodbye rat race, hello adventure

July 4 2008

Goodbye rat race, hello adventure

Life & Leisure, Issue 20

Breaking out of the humdrum of everyday life to pursue a deep-seated passion takes courage, determination and energetic optimism. The latest issue of Life & Leisure profiles New Zealanders who have chosen a more adventurous path in life.

When Rosie Dunphy found herself commuting each week from Ireland to Sussex for a viticulture course, she knew her desire to produce or grow something was genuine. It was a lunch in the Hunter Valley with friends when Rosie realised her dream was sitting right in front of her - wine.

Four years ago, Rosie bought Coal Pit Vineyard in the famous grape-growing region of Gibbston Valley, near Queenstown. The winery has become a family affair, with her four children and two dogs spending the winter and summer holidays at the vineyard. "It is a fantastic thing for all the family to be involved in. I hope it will become a passion for my children as well."

A career change can be daunting prospect, yet Chris Morton has done it three times. After working as a civil engineer, construction company manager and property developer, Chris discovered his true passion was photography. It was a revelation that came to him when he decided to get serious about mountaineering. "You know something is really happening to you when it is -4 degrees outside and you have the desire to get out of your tent and take photos. You can't fake passion," he says.

Today Chris contributes to Our Place, a photographic collection of UNESCO's World Heritage sites, taken by 16 photographers dotted around the world. His first assignment for the book was the Tongariro National Park. "You're on top of Mt Tongariro; it's dawning on a freezing August morning and you are there because it is one of the world's most important places. You really know you are doing something worthwhile then."

There are three essentials Otago-based adventurer and documentary maker Alison Ballance never leaves home without - an espresso pot, ground coffee beans and chocolate. No matter where Alison is in the world, a long black is always within reach. Alison, who travels to far-flung places to make documentaries for Natural History New Zealand, is not a slippers-and-Milo sort of woman. "I don't want to sit around and lead an ordinary life. I'm too aware of how many things I haven't done."

Hanging upside down from a galloping thoroughbred might seem like a terrifying way to make a living, but for a daring duo there is nothing else they'd rather be doing. Steff Coldstream, and her 16-year-old daughter Kodi, are the only mother-and-daughter stunt-horse-riding duo in the Southern Hemisphere.

Steff's confidence with horses goes back to her youth. At pony club she was always being told off for riding backwards. "Funnily enough I'm making a living out of doing exactly what used to get me into trouble," she says. Steff hopes to break into the competitive American stunt-riding circuit and one day perform in front of the Queen at the British equestrian extravaganza, All The Queen's Horses.

Life & Leisure editor Kate Coughlan says many of the people featured in this issue decided to leave the rat race behind and change direction. "They are proof that we don't need to feel trapped, that there are other ways of living. If they can escape, so can we."

Also in this issue Taupo-based helicopter pilot Toby Clark recalls the many adrenaline-filled adventures he's experienced while flying in New Zealand and overseas; hot-air balloon enthusiasts Louise and Brian Boland from Hamilton reveal why landing a balloon is an instant icebreaker and spice girl Jenny Garing from Lyttelton explains why her mortar and pestle gives her a "spice high".

Life & Leisure is on sale from 7 July.


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