It’s easy to get caught up in our busy 9-5 lives – forgetting the amazing country we live in, and the incredible adventures just waiting on our doorsteps.
Robert Bruce set up the ‘Got To Get Out’ adventure group when he realized he wasn’t getting outdoors enough and he was paying for it with his health. The group (a ‘social enterprise’ he calls it)_ has already grown to include several thousand followers, and Robert has made it his mission to get as many of them outdoors and into nature as he can.
He shares his story with the Macpac Blog.
Robert has always had an entrepreneurial streak – setting up his first business from his parents’ spare room in Wellington in 2006, at the age of 21. His marketing agency managed big events, sponsorships, brand activation, tours and employed thousands of promotional staff for major brands throughout New Zealand.
In 2014, his agency was acquired by a global public relations company. Robert became the General Manager of the Experiential Marketing division, managing major campaigns in New Zealand, and across the ditch in Australia. As with many business owners, the price was starting to pay on Robert’s health – the long hours and stressful deadlines resulted in an unsustainable lifestyle. He wasn’t getting outdoors enough.
“I decided to make a change in my life – I had little other choice, something had to give. I started getting out a lot more, going on as many hikes as I could – and seeing different parts of New Zealand in the process. I ended up dropping around 30kgs by being active and eating better” says Robert.
At the end of this radical transformation, Robert traveled to Nepal and trekked to the Mt Everest Base Camp – a far cry from his busy days sitting in the office. The 15 day return trek saw him hiking eight hours a day in near freezing conditions during the Himalayan Winter.
“When I was climbing in the Himalayas towards Everest, I just had this clarity of thought that can only come from being in the outdoors with no distractions – I decided after a few days that I needed to help others to experience what I was experiencing – and that is how Got To Get Out was born,” says Robert.
When explaining the concept to others, Robert calls Got To Get Out a ‘social venture’ because although it’s not a charity, it has a conscience at the heart of its foundation. Mainly aimed at Aucklanders (although expansion is definitely on the cards), the group has based itself on Facebook and is committed to getting people out of their comfort zones to see the world they live in.
“So far, we’ve been on a number of trips, including hiking The Pinnacles in the Coromandel, caving at Waitomo, and an overnight camping and kayaking trip on Motuihe Island. The response has just been incredible, I’ve had people come along who haven’t been on a decent adventure in years, and it’s so rewarding to see the pure enjoyment they get out of just being in the outdoors. I can’t wait to bring this experience to even more people,” says Robert.
The group’s most recent trip was tackling the Tongariro Crossing, alpine style. 32 people went along – despite the adverse weather forecast. They all piled into vans, and headed to National Park, with each person taking some time on the journey to introduce themselves and share a fact that nobody else knows about them.
“There is always a really strong social element on the trips. We do things like shared dinners and ice breakers so people get to know one another, and we also encourage people to chat and learn as much as they can about each other. The whole idea is to help create a community of people who love the outdoors and want to see more of the world they live in,” says Robert.
The group arrived in National Park in freezing conditions around midnight, and fell straight into bed knowing they had to get up at 5am the next morning to start the Crossing before the forecast storm hit.
Like all Got To Get Out trips, there were professionals on hand to look after the guests. This time, the group was helped out by Adrift – a professional guiding company.
“They briefed us, handed out crampons and Ice Axes, and drove us to the start of the hike. There could be no wasting time, because we knew that by mid-morning there would be 65km+ winds, -10 windchill, and heavy rains,” explains Robert.
The snow came in heavily from the Red Crater, and it was blowing hard. With each step it got harder to walk, visibility was only about 30 meters, and the snow was almost thigh deep in places. The guides went ahead to see what the ridge would be like (the most treacherous part of the trek, due to the exposure to wind) and the decision was made to turn back.
Despite this, spirits were high, and the group stopped off at the DOC hut on the way back for a cold and soggy lunch, followed by a hot shower and some beers back at their accommodation.
The next morning, the Got To Get Out group went across to the YHA rock climbing wall to get a lesson from a pro before heading back to Auckland.
“We rounded out the weekend by visiting our ‘local’ Chapel Bar and Bistro in Ponsonby, where the team there put on some pizzas and food for us and we debriefed on the awesome weekend!”
Finishing on a high, everyone put their Macpac receipts into a beer jug, and the DJ drew out Marcel, who was thrilled to win a Macpac down jacket.
Macpac is proud to get behind Robert and Got To Get Out – we have provided those participating in trips with greater accessibility to the gear they needed to get the most out of their adventures.
Robert’s already planning several new trips for the group – keep an eye on the Got To Get Out Facebook page, and the Macpac Blog for details.