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How Sidetracks Women was born

So, when the Australian lifestyle magazine for women ‘Sheroes Unlimited’ approached Angelika to write a story about her business, she had the perfect opportunity to put it all into words.

The story was published in the August edition of the Australian magazine, so don’t be surprised if your Australian friends already know about the company you have been raving about 😉

Are you curious to know more about the story behind Sidetracks Women tours yourself?

Here is a slightly updated version of Angelika’s story for you:

A new beginning

Sometimes a bad event can end up having good outcomes. This certainly was the case for me.

For almost 25 years, I planned, organised and guided nature and adventure tours for German-speaking tourists in New Zealand. Suddenly, in March 2020, our borders closed for an unforeseeable time due to the Covid pandemic.

What now? Send my small team of staff home? Maybe find a job to get by for another two years and then retire? Apply for government grants and wait?

None of these seemed like good options. I have always loved my job and run my small business with all my heart and soul. And there were two 'anniversaries' coming up: my 25th anniversary as a tour guide in New Zealand and the 21st birthday of my company Sidetracks Tours.

So, I felt there was no other solution than to sit down and think again, until a better idea surfaced.

If I wanted to continue running active tours with New Zealand's borders closed, then the only option left was to offer tours for the local market.

Being out in nature, hiking, and cycling are essential parts of my life, so any future project had to include this.

Maybe offer guided walking and cycling tours for locals!?

My first research on the internet was a big blow!

There seemed to be much more competition in this segment than I had with my previous tours.

Besides, I expected probably 100s of other smaller and bigger tourism enterprises to have the same thought - 'to go local'. That was a bit scary, but it also made super clear: I need an excellent point of difference if I want to succeed.

So, for the umpteenth time, I went through all my memories of 25 years of group travel in New Zealand and tried to pick out particular observations. My 90-year-old mother, who has always shared my story and has an excellent memory, was fantastic support.

In this process, I came up with three very striking observations I have made during my career as a tour guide:

  • I often had the impression almost every woman 50+ had something like a built-in worry about holding up the group and being like a brake block for others. Not an entirely unjustified concern. How many women in their mid-50s or early 60s are actually capable of hiking at the same speed as a sporty mid-20s guy?

  • Purely by chance, I had an all-women group three times and enjoyed the much more relaxed atmosphere during the tour.

  • Which woman of a 'more mature age' wants to share a bunk room on her hiking tour with men she met only a few hours ago? Certainly not me.

So the idea took shape - guided women-only hiking and cycling tour

A lot more research, planning, discussions - then the programme was set, and Sidetracks became Sidetracks Women.

Valda - our first Sidetracks Woman

On 08 June 2020, I published our new website. The nerve-wracking wait had started, to see if it was only me who liked the idea, or if it would prove popular. But not much later, we got our first booking! Wow!

And Valda's booking was followed by 140 others in our first season 2020/21.

Despite enormous challenges due to Covid, extended lockdowns in Auckland and the bursting of the Australia/New Zealand bubble, which all led to numerous tour transfers and cancellations, we grew by 30% in the 2021/22 season.

But even more pleasing: we have women who have been on three, four or even five tours with us in just two seasons! Is there a better compliment? I couldn’t think of one!

That's why even though the borders are open now, we won't go back to our old programme and will continue with Sidetracks Women. We just love it!


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