Celebrating 10 years with Nathan

28th March 2023|3min

Our Operations Manager Nathan Watson celebrated a decade at NZ Mountain Safety Council this month. He shares with us some 9 to 5 workday wisdom and the recipe for success working at a Non-Government Organisation (NGO).

When I joined the NZ Mountain Safety Council (MSC) in 2013 I never would have anticipated writing a 10-year reflection! The fact I am still here a decade later is testament to one single factor; I love my job.

I’ve always believed that if you don’t love what you do, then don’t do it. I simply don’t agree that a job is purely just a job, and that you can be happy spending 40hrs week doing something that doesn’t bring you joy.

I was very lucky to be brought up in a family that spent all our holidays outdoors. We went tramping, camping, biking, skiing and kayaking so often it was just part of normal life. While friends went to the Gold Coast, we went into the hills. Through these experiences I developed most of my foundational skills, and I also learnt that baggy cotton shorts cause mild hypothermia (on Mt Fyfe, Kaikoura), and being warm is better than ‘being cool.’ Arthurs Pass National Park was a second home, and as we got older that transitioned to become Nelson Lakes/St Arnaud. 

When I started at MSC, it was just prior to a significant strategic review and organisational reset. It is fair to say there were some tough times early on, but we had a strong belief that the change was for the right reasons, and that a revitalised MSC would flourish. Fast forward a decade and I truly believe that has been proven correct.

The operating environment for Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) is tough. Often NGOs are filling a need in society that the government isn’t, either intentionally or unintentionally. Funding is often a huge challenge, and finding and retaining great staff can be equally as difficult as NGOs are often competing against higher paying private sector or government roles.

I believe MSC has flourished because it has done a fantastic job of sticking squarely to its core business, and we’ve maintained the principle that by creating success and achieving our aims will bring with it the resources we need to do our jobs and do them well. This approach has kept us focused, and we’ve learned to be smart about how we do things and the opportunities we create. Look no further than what we’ve achieved with Plan My Walk as an indicator of this success.

Well, that feels overly philosophical! So, on a lighter note, here’s my ten favourite tramping things…
Nathan Watson tramping the Copland Track

Nathan Watson tramping the Copland Track

  1. Favourite tramp: 10 days across Kahurangi National Park from Boulder Lake Hut to Flora Saddle was an amazing trip. Followed very closely by the Southern Circuit on Stewart Island.
  2. Favourite National Park: For the memories; Nelson Lakes National Park. For pure adventure and epic trips; Kahurangi and Stewart Island. But really, they’re all amazing!
  3. Favourite Hut: I don’t have an issue with new, large backcountry huts, so either Routeburn Falls Hut or Waihohonu Hut, Tongariro.
  4. Favourite Campsite: Under a tent fly, eating freshly caught blue cod, on top of a little point in Goose Cove, Patterson Inlet, Stewart Island.
  5. Favourite piece of tramping kit: Sunglasses and walking poles. You realise how important sunglasses are after forgetting them on a 10-day tramp.
  6. Favourite tramping meal: I’m a sucker for the simple pasta, pesto and salami. Throw in a few vegs if it’s early in the trip.
  7. Favourite tramping view: So many to choose from, but sitting at Mangatepopo Hut watching the sun set behind Taranaki Maunga instantly comes to mind.
  8. Favourite Wellington short walk: So many great ones to choose from, but I reckon Otari-Wilton’s Bush has everything you need for a cool family walk on a Sunday afternoon.
  9. Favourite tramp I’ve never done (but want to): Dusky Track, Fiordland.
  10. Favourite outdoor activity to come: Overnight tramping with the kids. We’ve done our first overnighter, bring on summer for more!
Read more about Nathan’s adventures and expertise: