Getting paid to work in 'paradise'

PERFECT JOB:  Darryl Anderson, fulltime summer guide for Abel Tasman Kayaks.
PERFECT JOB: Darryl Anderson, fulltime summer guide for Abel Tasman Kayaks.

He thinks he has the best summer job in the world, and to prove it he has been returning to the same role for 25 years.

Darryl Anderson is a fulltime summer guide for Abel Tasman Kayaks which also entails being a part-time geologist, biologist, historian, ornithology and comedian.

Anderson first took on the role in 1989 and looks like he has just stepped out of Point Break with the blonde surfy look, white zinc spread across his nose, and an epic tan.

He pokes fun at his clients introducing them to the Kiwi sense of humour, fun and adventure while also educating them about the Tasman Bay wildlife, history, and geography.

He is doing what he loves and getting paid for it while enjoying the great outdoors and New Zealand's wildlife.

"I really love sea kayaking and I can get paid to do it so that's fantastic," he says.

He also finds the human side of the job "fulfilling". "You get to be outside pretty much all of the time you get to interact with people on holidays, which is always really quite pleasant."

Anderson also enjoys introducing people to something new and getting them out of their comfort zone. He teaches his clients what they need to know for each sea kayaking trip he takes them on, but also makes an effort to give people skills they can use next time they are sea kayaking.

He has seen dolphins, orcas and a variety of birdlife including blue penguins and a few wandering albatross, which were "pretty cool".

His knowledge of the Tasman Bay land, sea, and people is impressive. He is self-taught through reading and talking to longtime locals.

Anderson has never had any serious first aid incidents or any big dramas. It's mainly just human emotion dramas - the challenge of temperamental clients with "attitude", but that's a rarity rather than the norm.

"Ninety-eight per cent it's all pretty sweet but you do get the odd person with a severe attitude that needs severe adjustment," he says laughing.

He recalls one classic, but "cringey" incident where a client had spent time at Mapua naked sunbathing before coming on a three-day kayak trip. His sunburn had turned into sun peel "like you wouldn't believe peeling" - something the client decided to share with everyone and their breakfast.

"I got up and set up the table for breakfast and you can imagine it's like fruit and yummy stuff everywhere. This guy gets up, everyone is sitting round drinking coffee and having cereal and he's at the end of the table upwind scratching his peeling flaking back with his shirt and like I remember looking up and going "oh what's going on' it looked like it was snowing, but it was just this guy's skin flaking everywhere and it was all over the food - this woman looking at her coffee and going what the **** is this. His skin was everywhere.

"You meet these people and think geez where do they come from and I'm glad they've gone again," he laughs.

Anderson started off river kayaking and got into the sport through Whenua Iti Outdoors. In his first season in the region he worked for Wilsons as a walking guide and boat crew. Then in 1989 he undertook his first summer with Abel Tasman Kayaks and he has never looked back.

He paddles in his own time having done a month-long trip around Stewart Island in the winter and further exploration in Fiordland and the Nelson Tasman area.

As a "permanent resident" of the Abel Tasman National Park area he continues living there through winter working as a silviculturist - planting trees to make sure there is toilet paper "forever and forever".

While he is well-humoured and ready to joke around it's obvious Anderson is very good at his job. You get the sense he is highly organised and prepared - that you are in good hands.

He is not about to give up the best summer job to any youngster. As long as he is wanted he will be there.

"I will carry on till retirement or something," he says.

"I love sea kayaking and I'm good at it. I am good at what I do and can still do it so I am just going to carry on and why wouldn't you I mean let's face it, it's paradise.

"And I get paid to just be out there with people having fun."

The Nelson Mail