Award-winning designer of tailored New Zealand journeys
Unprecedented local knowledge and connections
Close ties with Maori chiefs and communities
In “100% pure” New Zealand, travel experiences don’t come much more natural or wholesome than those designed by Jean-Michel Jefferson. This multi-award-winning connoisseur is renowned for tailoring itineraries that are both personal and unique – blending the country’s breathtaking scenery and myth laden culture with a growing group of “remarkable Kiwis,” who lend their own stories and inspiration to Jean-Michel’s journeys.
As a former Price Waterhouse management consultant, Jean-Michel keeps his finger firmly on the pulses of New Zealand’s corporate, leisure, and sporting scenes. For his guests, this means access to an incredible selection of national and cultural heroes, as well as personal hosting by a singularly impressive group of guides: including the first woman to summit Mount Everest without oxygen, one of the country’s most knowledgeable Maori chiefs, and one of its preeminent winemakers.
Jean-Michel’s connections also provide an unprecedented portfolio of ‘deep-end’ travel experiences, from spearfishing
with a national champion, to mountain hopping heli-safaris in the Southern Alps, to rallying with a local legend on some of the world’s most spectacular roads.
His long-term friendships with several Maori leaders offer evocative encounters with this ancient Polynesian culture, including elaborate reenactments of epic ambushes, canoe battles, and hunting and fishing expeditions.
A trilingual father of four with his roots in North Africa and the Middle East, Jean-Michel is at home anywhere in New Zealand – and across a huge range of disciplines, from trained diver and seasoned events organiser to professional helicopter guide, and a regular mentor to Maori communities pursuing high-end tourism.
His experiences with indigenous communities have led Jean- Michel to develop strong relationships with a number of chiefs and their extended families – providing guests with a personal window into the Maoris’ ancient culture and their famously warm hospitality.
Jean-Michel and his team consistently feature among Condé Nast Traveler’s ‘Top Travel Specialists’ and Travel + Leisure’s ‘A-List of Top Travel Agents’, and in 2011 were voted one of National Geographic Traveler’s ‘Ultimate 50 Tours of a Lifetime’. He attributes his success to simple authenticity: “finding the places, people and activities that enable our clients to develop a real connection with this amazing country.”
Jean-Michel sits on the board of Odyssey Travel, the not-for-profit travel education organisation, which provides subsidized travel programs for the over-50s and university scholarships for financially disadvantaged students.