Host honour for Orokonui guide

Sue Hensley's passion for the Orokonui Ecosanctuary has resulted in her being named Dunedin host personality of the year at a tourism industry meeting.

The semi-retired Waitati resident became involved in Orokonui at its inception almost 10 years ago and has guided people through the facility since the predator-proof fence was developed in 2007.

Ms Hensley was nominated for the Michelle McCormack award, presented to the best tourism host in Dunedin each year by industry group Dunedin Host.

Her accolade was announced at Dunedin Host's annual meeting this week.

Ms Hensley said she had "glorious fun" at Orokonui and enjoyed sharing its wildlife and environment with others.

"I'm just passionate about that place. This is my patch; it's just fantastic," she said.

Ms Hensley never tired of seeing kaka and even found delight in the more "common place" sights at Orokonui when with visitors who had never before experienced anything like it.

"The wildlife and the people just make a magical combination," she said.

Part of her head guide role was to ensure each guide was neither over nor under-exposed to the ecosanctuary.

"You have to know the place and keep up with what's going on, but it's also important that you feel fresh and excited every time you go in," she said.

Being able to spot things for visitors made Ms Hensley feel "really good" about her part-time guiding, and she also enjoyed sharing information about other Dunedin experiences with tourists.

Orokonui general manager Chris Baillie said Ms Hensley was truly deserving of the award.

"Her knowledge of the ecosanctuary flora and fauna is second to none and her enthusiasm is infectious. She always receives excellent feedback from her tours," she said.



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