Our Team

Meet the bunch of outdoor adventure-loving good sorts who work with us.

This whānau of misfits are passionate, fun-loving, ‘life’ adventurers who love to serve those we are privileged to rub shoulders with.



Providing industry standard qualifications  since 1987.



We maintain a high standard for all our staff.


*Senior instructors


Our team are trained and fully qualified in advanced first aid.

Management & OPERATIONS

Tim Wills

Chief Executive Officer

Our main man, Tim, has more than 30 years experience in outdoor pursuits. Tim is an accomplished kayaker, climber, skier and will often be found adventuring locally and abroad in the mountains or on the water getting “big air” (well, so he says) on his kiteboard.

He also thinks he’s a pretty good surfer (and Kelly Slater look alike but we know better). The father of four doesn’t see his role as a job but rather a lifestyle – he says the Trust is in his DNA – and his family have always been part of the adventure.

Experience & Qualifications
  • Bachelor of Arts in Geography
  • Diploma in Secondary School Teaching
  • NZOIA Rock 2, Bush 2, Alpine 2, Kayak1 and Sea Kayak 1 instructor
  • NZOIA Rock 1, Abseil 1 and Kayak Leader assessor
  • NZOIA technical sub-committee convenor
  • New Zealand Rafting Association member, Grade 5 Raft Guide, Grade 3 Trip Leader
  • Certified in Pre-hospital Emergency Care for Ski Patrollers and Outdoor Recreational Personnel
  • 2013 NZOIA Tall Totara award recipient for excellence in outdoor leadership

Amy Horn

Adventure Therapy Manager

Amy is passionate about developing our programmes that focus on personal development and therapeutic change. In her spare time Amy loves to get outside for adventure and a challenge.

She can often be found mountain biking, running, paddling, tramping or competing in a rogaine or adventure race. When she’s not doing that you’ll find her in the kitchen decorating cakes!
Experience & Qualifications
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
  • Diploma of Outdoor Recreation Leadership
  • Masters in Counselling (currently studying)
  • NZOIA Kayak 1, Bush 2, Sea Kayak 1 and Rock 1 instructor
  • Pre Hospital Emergency Care
  • Canterbury Youth Workers Collective member

Anneke Beardsley

Adventure Therapy Clinician (Christchurch)

Anneke has a firm belief in the healing and health that comes from connecting to Te Taiao, the natural world. Anneke is very excited to be working in this role as

Adventure Therapy Clinician; to be going on outdoor adventures with people who are navigating significant challenges in their lives, and to be encouraging and facilitating the reflection that leads to wellbeing and self-development.
Anneke is trained as a Kaimahi Toko i te Ora (Social Worker) with previous roles supporting Rangatahi in fostercare, working with tamariki and their whānau in school communities, and in enhancing women’s wellbeing.
As mum to a seven and ten year old, most of her time outside of work is invested in whānau mini adventures, and exploring and appreciating this beautiful world that we live in.

Experience & Qualifications
  • Masters in Social Work (Applied)

  • A Registered Social Worker

  • Outdoor First Aid

  • Member of Adventure Therapy Aotearoa

brenda lewis

Adventure Therapy Co-ordinator (Auckland)

Brenda is passionate about seeing young people reaching their full potential and living lives full of hope. Her background in the not for profit sector and working with youth led her to us and she is excited to see where this new role will lead.

Brenda enjoys spending time with her family and friends – mixed in with good coffee and conversation, movies, holidays, travel, walking and enjoying the outdoors.

Experience & Qualifications
  • Graduate Diploma in Not For Profit Management

Jeff Lappin

Auckland Operations Manager

Jeff trained with us as an outdoor instructor in 2006 but it took 10 years for him to return! In that time he got married, had three children and became a teacher. He is a keen tramper, caver and fisherman, and is always up for a bit of exploring.

He loves to see other people realise that they are actually capable of achieving things they didn’t think were possible for them. He and his wife, Helen, also enjoy great coffee and exploring kid-friendly cafes for their three children, Joelle, Charlotte and Elise. Recommendations gladly accepted!

Experience & Qualifications
  • Bachelor in Primary Teaching
  • Diploma in Biblical Studies
  • NZOIA Bush 1 and Rock 1 instructor

Anita Sword

Auckland Operations Assistant

Anita first joined the trust in 2010 as a Field Instructor and has returned in 2018 as part of the administration team. She shares her time between working here at the Trust and working as an Early Childhood Teacher.

She is passionate about caring for our environment, learning about and incorporating Māori language and culture, facilitating sustainable learning principles and her Christian faith. She also keeps us on our toes by keeping things organised and making sure things run smoothly.
Experience & Qualifications
  • Bachelor in Sport and Recreation (Outdoor Education)
  • Graduate Diploma in Teaching (ECE)
  • Diploma in Te Ara Reo Māori

Andy Balcar

Christchurch Operations Manager

Andy’s extensive experience as a youth worker, youth work trainer and teacher, in mainstream schools and alternative education with an outdoor focus, led him to his current role.

He particularly enjoys seeing the great outdoors work its magic on people as they learn, grow and discover more about themselves in community.
Experience & Qualifications
  • Bachelor of Parks and Recreation
  • Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning

Mark Johnston

Training and Safety Manager

Mark is a keen tramper, skier, rock climber, mountain biker and kayaker. He has kayaked many rivers in both the North and South Islands and his sea kayaking experience includes the Marlborough Sounds, Abel Tasman National Park, …

… Bay of Islands, Great Barrier Island, Fiordland and Alaska. Mark is married to Diana and they have two sons, James and Caleb.
Experience & Qualifications
  • NZOIA Sea Kayak 2, Kayak 1, Rock 1, Alpine 1 and Bush 1 instructor
  • Certified in Pre-hospital Emergency Care for Ski Patrollers and Outdoor Recreational Personnel
  • New Zealand Rafting Association member and Grade 2 Guide

Finance and administration

kerryn rothery

Accounts & General Administrator

Keeping us on track!  Kerryn comes from a not for profit background and loves to make a difference.  Her heart lies in the youth sector.  She has three amazing teens who keep her busy and volunteers for Massey Swim Club.  In her spare time she loves to go tramping and visiting new places…

Tom Batts

National Funding Administrator

Show me the money!! Tom applies his many talents to raising awareness and support for the impact we are having in Aotearoa. Tom’s first connection to Adventure Specialties Trust was an instructor in 2017. Tom then left to do some study but still instructed on the occasional programme with us and he has now stepped into the funding role. Besides his newfound love of statistics Tom likes to climb, ski, spearfish and recently, paraglide!


David Moss

Adventure Therapy Facilitator – Auckland

David joined the team in January 2013. He has completed a Diploma in Outdoor Recreation Leadership at AUT University. Currently holds two NZOIA awards in Rock Climbing and Sea Kayaking.

David completed his 3 years of instructing for the Trust in 2016, he continues with the Trust in his current role. Before joining the us David was working at a camp in the Hunua area along with some sea kayak guiding around the Hauraki Gulf. In his free time David will usually be found cruising the sea is his kayak, jumping off waterfalls at some local Canyoning spots or walking his dog with his wife Sophia. David has a passion for people and seeing them reach their God given potential, and using the outdoors is just the icing on the cake. 

Dave's Experience & Qualifications
  • NZOIA Sea Kayak 1
  • NZOIA Rock 1
  • NZOIA Bush 1
  • Diploma in Outdoor Recreation Leadership
  • Outdoor First Aid

Hanna McLeay

Instructor – Auckland

Hanna joined the team in September 2014 after graduating with a Diploma in Outdoor Recreation Leadership. 

She found her way to us after years of wondering what it would be like to work with youth and go on adventures all at the same time. Since joining, she has gained NZOIA qualifications in Bush and White Water Kayaking and loves any activity in and around the water! Hanna has loves the variety of places the job takes her and seeing positive effects in the lives of the young people she works with. Chilling out or Surf missions fills up her spare time, taking drops but more likely just getting smashed by the waves. Living out of a van she can go anywhere at any time! The peace and quiet of a wild empty coastline is Hanna’s happy place, of course with a stash of dark chocolate on hand.

Hanna's Experience & Qualifications
  • NZOIA Bush 1
  • NZOIA Kayak 1
  • Outdoor First Aid

kyle smart

Instructor – Auckland

Kyle loves all outdoor pursuits with a particular passion for the sea, regularly awaiting the next big storm to go windsurfing. Kyle studied Sport and recreation at AUT and majored in Outdoor Education. He really enjoys using God’s amazing creation as a means of showing others their true potential.

Kyle's Experience & Qualifications
  • NZOIA Rock 1
  • NZOIA Bush 1
  • NZOIA Sea Kayak 1
  • Outdoor First Aid
  • National Certificate in Outdoor Recreation (Leadership) (Bush Walking)


Instructor – Auckland

Joel had been involved in agriculture and the equine businesses. He then achieved a diploma in outdoor education at Hillary Outdoors Education Centre, with specific interest in all aspects of kayaking, caving and achieved NZIOA qualifications in bush and kayak.

After his studies he went on to sea kayak guide in Fiordland National park for two years before finding himself working for Adventure Specialties Trust in 2018. He is extremely passionate about the environment and all it has to offer to anyone willing to be involved in it, loving to bring people to appreciate nature by showing them its benefits mainly through the mediums of sea kayaking and finding edible plants to mix into the night’s dinner. 
His faith has developed over the years with influence from his family, youth camps working as a youth leader and his different work places over the last seven years, and seems to connect most when he is amongst nature.

Joel's Experience & Qualifications
  • NZOIA Kayak Leader
  • NZOIA Sea Kayak 1
  • NZOIA Bush 1
  • National Diploma in Outdoor Recreation (Instruction)

Peter Ross

Instructor – Christchurch

Peter, who originally hails from the South Island of Australia, moved to NZ to study outdoor education back in 2014 and still hasn’t left! He developed a love for the outdoors at a young age, influenced by family camping and fishing trips up into the highlands, though it wasn’t until the end of his schooling years that he really became hooked. It was Pete’s own outdoor education experiences that showcased to him nature’s ability to

break down barriers and bring individuals together. Though he loves all things outdoors and often struggles to juggle his many hobbies, he will usually be found paddling down white-water rivers or climbing up a rockface. Pete has a background in schools-based instructing and is a qualified outdoor ed teacher.

Peter's Experience & Qualifications
  • NZOIA Kayak Leader
  • NZOIA/WWNZ River Rescue 1
  • Pre-Hospital Emergency Care
  • Bachelor of Sport and Recreation (Outdoor Education)
  • Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching

Grace Robertson

Instructor – Christchurch

Grace grew up in ‘the Naki’ (Taranaki) like no other. She moved to Timaru to study a Diploma of Instruction and Management and has been living and working for us in Christchurch since January 2020.

Her passion for seeing young people get far out of their comfort zones and discover new outdoor passions is why grace is stoked on her job. 
Grace is busy full time her free time, either WW Kayaking, Outdoor Climbing, Mountain Biking, Mountaineering, running youth games or possibly oil painting if she can stand still for long enough. Grace just can’t get enough of God’s wild and beautiful creation, so anywhere with awesome people out in nature is her happy place!

Grace's Experience & Qualifications
  • NZOIA Bush Leader
  • NZOIA Kayak Leader
  • NZOIA Rock 1
  • Diploma in Outdoor Instruction and Management
  • Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Certificate 

April Heath

Adventure Therapy Facilitator – Christchurch

Ko wai au?
Ko Te Tari te Kaumira, Uretane, Kā Tapuwae o Urihia ōku Mauka
Ko Waihoa te awa
Ko Waihao te marae
Nō Kāi Tahu te iwi
Ko Kāti Huirapa, Ngāti Nateatea, Kāi Taoka, Te Aitaka a Tapuiti ngā hapū
Nō Te Tihi p Maru ahau engari kei Taupō tōku kaika ināianei
Ko April Heath tōku ingoa

Tēnā Koe, My name is April Heath.
I am of European and Māori descent and have whakapapa connections to many rūnaka across Te Wai Pounamu.
I am passionate about Te Ao Māori and our whakapapa connections. Since working in the outdoors I have begun to see the similarities with Māori worldview of te Taiao and the outdoor industry. I love exploring this relationship through my personal journey and in mahi contribution.
In the weekends you can find me mountain biking in the Port Hills, exploring the ngāhere or searching for a one of a kind item of clothing in the local opshops.
Something you should know about me is that I am always down for a laugh, a good joke and I enjoy a yarn over washing some dishes.
Ko au te whenua, te whenua ko au.

April's Experience & Qualifications
  • NZOIA Bush 1


Instructor – Auckland

Best known as “Instructor Rani.”

Rani initially started working for Adventure Specialties Trust in 2014 after completing a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation, majoring in Outdoor Education.

Why did he get into outdoor education? He says, “I love sports, especially hockey, but tried outdoor education at uni and found out that I was good at it and I loved hanging out with people, doing trips where you get to spend time with people. I loved finding out someone’s potential, seeing that lightbulb go off in someone’s head, like, ‘Boom! I can do this!'”

At Adventure Specialties, he got lots of experience in a variety of programmes and activities, like sea kayaking, rock climbing, canyoning, caving and hiking. After taking a break for a couple of years, he rejoined the team in 2021.

In his free time, Rani loves playing hockey and eating food. Good food. He is currently hunting for the best recipes for chicken wings.


RANI's Experience & Qualifications
  • Diploma of Sport and Recreation (Outdoor Education)
  • NZOIA Kayak 1
  • First Aid




Brian is married to Delia, the father of four adult children, and grandfather of four. As Chair of Adventure Specialties Trust (AST) you may guess that he must be a bit of an outdoors junkie, this would be stretching the truth slightly, but he is certainly passionate about; seeing lives transformed, hanging with the AST whanau and the odd trip into the wild.  Brian has enjoyed a varied career in telecommunications, IT, and more recently in the role of CEO for his own company.  Brian  has been a supporter and a BIG fanboy of AST for many years.  Brian sees it as his huge privilege to support the multi-talented, passionate, dedicated team that makes AST such an awesome organisation and a force for positive change in our community.

Bruce Conway


Bruce is world famous in Southland, hopefully for being a local outdoor instructor and leadership trainer for 25 years, but more likely for pioneering the iconic Paddles Up inter-school fun kayaking event that many teenagers have enjoyed since 1989.

His last proper job was National Director for SU Youth adventure camps, responsible for overseeing 30 adventure camps around NZ and for the training of 300 volunteer leaders.

Since stepping back from full-time outdoor education, he keeps his ‘hand in’ by helping on SU Youth adventure camps and rat/stoat trapping on the pest-free islands of Lake Manapouri and serving on the Adventure Specialties board.

He is married to Lois, an educator and has 3 adult sons and 7 grandies to keep him busy.

Bruce loves to cycle, kayak, sail and make things. His current project is an old Shadow microlight aircraft which he flies around the lower South Island.

Vincent heeringa


There’s nothing Vincent likes more than skiing down a cliff-face and telling a good story – so his apres ski yarns are epic.

Vincent has degrees in science and arts and was once, very briefly, a science and maths teacher. Most of his career has been in journalism and media.

He is co-founder of Good and Idealog magazines, helped establish the Science Media Centre and now consults to businesses on climate change, technology and communications.

Married to Sarah and with four adult children between them, he is a long-time member of Cityside Baptist Church and has a strong interest in celebrating and restoring the Creation through conservation.