Mountaineering & Guiding CV


Martin Curtis began his mountaineering and guiding career when still a teenager in the UK. As a keen cyclist at the time, he joined a local YHA group in North London, became an active committee member and was soon organising and leading weekend expeditions around the UK, climbing some of the higher peaks in Scotland, Wales and England. Annual holidays were spent trekking and climbing in the wilder parts of Scotland and in the European Alps, where he climbed his first big alpine peak Gross Glockner (3764m). In 1967 he decided to spend a summer in the then little-visited country of Iceland, and while there became a mountain guide for the original Iceland adventurer Dick Philips – whose company still run walking tours there. He eventually spent 4 seasons working for Dick, leading 14-day treks across the wild and mountainous interior of this sub-arctic country.


Gross Glockener(2)


M on Pen y Fan(2)

Gross Glockner, highest peak in Austria - 1966

Australian outback road - 1970

Pen-y-fan, Brecon Beacons, South Wales


After immigrating to Australia, Martin & his wife Kay embarked on some extremely adventurous trips through the outback in their trusted VW Kombi van. They spent two years living in the Northern Territory, where they grew to love the wild Aussie bush. But it was a holiday trip across the Tasman Sea that saw them fall in love with New Zealand. On that first visit Martin soloed several easier peaks, and also managed his first ascent of Mt Cook with famous climber Aat Vervoorn - a trip that was to have a big influence on his life. Martin & Kay soon sold up in Australia, moved permanently to New Zealand and settled in Wanaka, in the heart of the Southern Alps. Here they started one of New Zealand’s first horse-trekking centres, which they ran successfully for 15 years.





Making a living and raising a family kept him away from the mountains for some years, until in 1991 he went on a one week mountaineering refresher course with Wanaka guiding company Mountain Recreation. Following this he began guiding occasional trekking trips for the company in the Southern Alps and also climbing regularly on the local peaks. In 1994 he made his first ascent of Mt Aspiring and in 1996 returned to Mt Cook, where he successfully did the classic Grand Traverse route with guiding friend Geoff Wayatt. Since this time he has climbed many of New Zealand’s higher peaks, including Mts.Tasman, Sefton, Elie de Beaumont and Rob Roy. He has made multiple ascents of Mt Aspiring, including taking two of his sons to the summit.


Aspiring Summit team(2)

Mt Cook Summit ridge(2)

Mt Aspiring, New Zealand - 2014

Grand Traverse of Mt Cook - 1996



Lendenfeld fr  Tasman & M(2)

Martin & Mt Walter(2)

Mt Tasman - 2000

Mt Walter, New Zealand





In 1997 Martin made his first trip to the Himalayas, trekking to Everest base camp with Adventure Consultants. From here he hired a Sherpa guide and some porters and climbed on two 6000 metre peaks Imja Tse (Island Peak) and Pokalde. From then on he started returning to the Himalayas regularly. In 1999 he and Kay joined a trip run by Tashi & Judy Tenzing to Sikkim, where they trekked close to Kanchenjunga, the world’s 3rd highest mountain. Then two years later he organised and led a return trip to the Everest region for a group of friends, during which he and his regular climbing partner summited Island Peak alpine style (refusing to use the fixed ropes). On this trip Martin also ascended the north peak of Pharchemo – at 6250m, his highest point to date.



Lhotse and Everest


Gokyo Bridge

Mt Everest & Lhotse, Nepal - 1997

Mt Pandim & rhododendrons, Sikkim - 1999

Trekking in Gokyo Valley, Nepal - 2001





In 2004 Martin began his love affair with the unique Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, a place he’d wanted to visit for some years. Rather than go with a tour company (and pay their prices) he studied up on the regulations and bureaucratic requirements involved, contacted a well-known Bhutanese trekking company and organised his own trip. He advertised in the Wanaka newspapers and successfully got a small group together to do the classic Laya trek in N.W. Bhutan. This led to the unofficial formation of Kiwis to Bhutan and the running of trips to the country on a semi-regular basis.


Click here to find out more about upcoming “Kiwis to Bhutan” tours.


Punakha Dzong(2)

Tsechu dancers(2)


Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

Dancers at a Bhutan festival

Mt Chomolhari, Bhutan





In addition to the Himalayan trips, he also organises and leads a naturalist and bird-watching trip around the south of New Zealand’s South Island for Australia’s leading wildlife tour company every year. This tour has operated for 6 consecutive years and visits the Mt Cook region, Lake Ohau, the Otago Peninsula, the special Catlins Coast, Stewart Island and Lake Wanaka, looking at birdlife, marine mammals, botany, geology and other natural features of the south of the South Island. These trips can be booked by contacting Coates Wildlife Tours in Perth, Western Australia.


Martin also occasionally goes over to Western Australia to work for Coates Wildlife Tours in the outback as a 4WD driver, joining his brother Rick Curtis who is a distinguished naturalist guide for the company. In recent years they have done 4WD trips to the famous Canning Stock Route and taken a unique trip to the rarely visited aboriginal land of the Carnarvon Ranges.


July 2014 144(2)

Robin on backpack(2)


Ahuriri Valley, South Island

South Island Robin

Outback driving for Coates tour in Australia


In between tours Martin still walks and climbs regularly in New Zealand, and this year summited Mt Aspiring yet again on his 70th birthday. On his regular UK singing tours he still manages to climb a few Scottish “bens.”


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