The trekker and traveler

Colin Hancock, Trek 'N' Travel

It’s not often you’d think to send a postcard while travelling to someone at a retail shop back home, but for visitors to Colin’s store, that feels like exactly the right thing to do.

An outdoor enthusiast in every sense, we grab Colin Hancock, owner and operator of Trek ‘n Travel, to hear some tales of what it’s like to live in the ‘gateway of adventure’.

Tell me about your business, how long have you been here?

Twenty years.  I think it was a drop shop previously, the kind of place that people would hire out for a weekend, then move on. When I decided to set up originally, I did look at other shops, but when I walked in here, it just had a nice feeling about it. It was a mess of course, we had to strip it all out. And now I’m the only independent outdoor retailer left in Hamilton.

Yet it doesn’t feel empty here, there’s a lot of memorabilia in your shop.

Yes, when I looked around at the other shops, they were all rather clinical and I felt we had to have a point of difference. Also it helps when you want your window display to convey something different, it’s easy to find the props. It's all stuff I’ve picked up on my own adventures, or from second hand shops, like the books that came from Browsers bookshop which used to be next door.

How did you end up in Hamilton?

I came originally to work for a company called Hallmark which manufactured packs, tents, sleeping bags and clothing.  I stayed with them for about six to seven years, then I got a job at Macpac and spent twelve years with them. When changes were being made at Macpac I decided it was time to split ways and I opened up this shop.

And Hamilton feels like the right place to be for you?

Yes, absolutely, and I’m going to use a really corny saying, but for me Hamilton is the ‘gateway to adventure’, you can go anywhere. There’s not one weekend you need to drive down the same road.

What’s been your most recent adventure?

Well I started off tramping originally and then a friend took me sea kayaking, and that was it, I was hooked. I recently spent five days kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds and came back and bought a boat. I have also kayaked from Kawhia up to Raglan and Tauranga Harbour as well, so there are plenty of coastal related activities at the moment.

What would a day off in Hamilton look like for you?

I think Riverbank Lane is just great, the way they’ve set it up, so would likely spend some time there, and Hamilton Gardens are just brilliant and a walk there is always nice.

Who visits your shop?

We have an 18 – 28 aged group of customers, and a 40 – 70 aged group of customers. What are the people in the middle doing? They’re married!  No, I mean we are getting families visit but the singles and those that have got the kids off their hands are the ones that are regularly in here.  I think it’s just time, money, etc. However I still get postcards today from customers who have gone off to have amazing adventures; at one stage I was even getting parents coming in here asking ‘have you had a postcard from my kids?’.