Our story begins where many good legends do, in the stunning South Island of New Zealand. Journey back in time with us to 1853, when lush flora ruled the land, native fauna filled the air and the epic trails of today were yet to be blazed.
A pioneering explorer by the name of Nathanael Chalmers required the expert assistance of a local guide to lead him through the wilderness. What he found was a legendary story-teller and like-minded adventurer – Reko.
A Maori leader whose ancestors travelled the land for generations, a knowledgeable escort whose hospitality and respect for nature, place and people was unsurpassed. In return for his service, Reko asked for but one modest reward – Chalmers’ three-legged cooking pot.
Together they traversed into scapes yet to be explored by European settlers, from deep valleys, crystal-clear rivers and rugged mountains, to the wild interior we now know as Central Otago. Chalmers became the first of his people to lay wide eyes on the serene lakes of Wanaka and Wakatipu, Queenstown. While his discoveries are celebrated to this day, Reko’s story remains largely unknown. Until now.
As lovers of legendary tales, we traced Reko’s surviving descendant to Invercargill in the hope of hearing this magnificent story first hand. In true Reko style, Alexander Reko Hesselin took us on a moving journey to his ancestor’s grave in Tuturau and the three-legged pot, which up until recently sat as an ornament beside his fireplace.
With Alex’s blessing, we are delighted to bring you ‘REKO Private Guides’. A celebration of a legend. A continuation of an ethos to share, respect and preserve our unique environment, culture and history. An opportunity for keen explorers just like you to create your own worthy tale in the majestic South Island of New Zealand and form your connection to a land like no other.
Join one of our passionate, knowledgeable guides, craft a bespoke adventure and follow in the footsteps of Reko, made more than 150 years before us.
— Mark Orbell, REKO Private Guides founder and lover of legendary tales