Having led passengers on more than 120 voyages to the Polar Regions, Cheli is a seasoned veteran when it comes exploring the rich, breathtaking nature and animal life of this ever-changing environment. Cheli got her first taste of polar adventure leaving her native New Zealand for the Russian Far East and continued leading expeditions to both well-known and “secret gem” locations across Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Svalbard, the North Pole, South Georgia, Antarctica and the South Sandwich Islands.
Cheli’s passion for the Polar Regions has roots in a career spent on and in the water. She started in the ski industry and went on to become a PADI Master Instructor and has more than 6,000 dives to her credit. One of Cheli’s most memorable animal preservation initiatives was to monitor the breeding habits of sea turtles in the Great Barrier Reef. A bit closer to home, she worked to identify New Zealand’s resident orca population, rescue a pod of 100 stranded long-finned pilot whales and was part of the team (funded by the Discovery Channel) that witnessed the second-ever known sighting of Antarctic orca in New Zealand waters.
Cheli is also a commercial launch master, and even though she is qualified to “drive the ship,” she leaves that to the captain and instead focuses her talents, New Zealand sense of humor and contagious excitement for all that the Arctic has to offer on ensuring that she and the expedition team work together to maximize every opportunity. Cheli’s advice to make the most of your Arctic expedition is to put down your camera and soak it all in. Remember: Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.