Dreaming of an adventure to New Zealand full of dramatic waterfalls, lush valleys and breathtaking vistas at every turn? If you travel to New Zealand with Backroads, the legendary Paul Smith just might be one of your Trip Leaders.
A history major and a former minor league baseball player, Paul recently celebrated leading his 300th trip to New Zealand and is a true expert on this gorgeous country. With 22 years as a Backroads leader who’s led more adventure tours in Backroads’ history, it’s safe to say he’s seen it all.
Paul didn’t start his Backroads journey in New Zealand, however. His first start was a bit of a rough initiation with a camping trip on the Russian River. He and his co-leader (now his wife and mother of his two sons) forgot their sleeping bags and slept wrapped in tablecloths in their van while it rained outside. He hasn’t forgotten his sleeping bag since!
Paul’s attention to detail, witty humor, knowledge of the local haunts and an uncanny ability to discern the needs of each guest is well-known and celebrated. During his 22 years with Backroads, Paul has fallen in love with Chinese culture and the joy of riding a bike through its sometimes crazy countryside; learned about world religions by leading Bhutan walking tours and Bali bike tours, where he became fascinated with prayer wheels and Hindu gods; and lived each summer in the San Juan islands, knowing the way the light looks on the water at all hours of the day, from all viewpoints, like a local knows it.
Plus, Paul can add to his list of credentials that he’s done more laps around the South Island of New Zealand than anyone in Backroads history! “All it takes is a single visit to fall in love with New Zealand’s extraordinary scenery and down-to-earth welcoming people,” says Paul. “And if you’re like me, you’ll find it’s a destination you dream of returning to again and again.”