Nicky Ward-Allen has become a bit of an expert on Taranaki weather.
The Eltham woman's professional and personal passions are heavily influenced by the forecast, often to the point where she knows what the weather will be like days ahead of time.
The trained tree surgeon runs her own business, which can have her working all over Taranaki and in other regions. Last year alone, she worked in Hawke's Bay, Wellington and Whanganui.
"You can go anywhere in the world as a arborist," she said.
She lives with partner Neal Harding and their dog, Charlie, on a rambling property complete with its own orchard. They grow a variety of fruit and nut trees as well as vegetables.
"It's not self-sufficient but it helps," said Ms Ward-Allen, who has lived in Eltham for nine years.
Most of her life is lived outside and she would not have it any other way.
"I really enjoy working outdoors and being out in nature," she said.
For the Tauranga-born woman, the physical work involved in her day job provides ample training for her other passion - competitive tree climbing.
She won her fourth women's world title in Toronto in July and is the current New Zealand champion.
She said that, although women's involvement in tree climbing had declined over the years, she enjoyed the camaraderie and friendships she had formed all over the world.
"Because it's kind of like a cult sport, all the climbers look after each other," she said.
Ms Ward-Allen tree-climbs most days of the week to keep her fitness levels up, as well as doing the odd session of cardio.
Her favourite spot to scale in Taranaki is the big elm tree in Stratford's Victoria Park.
She can be found up the elm about three times a week.
She said she enjoyed the easy access she had to the park, plus Charlie was able to keep her company.
"It's kind of nice because you can hear the kids playing in the playground while you climb."
Ms Ward-Allen is looking forward to a decent break over summer and planning on going camping after spending Christmas with family in Palmerston North.
"With the tree-climbing kit of course."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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