About us

Meet the Wild Earth team

Aaron Russ - General Manager

Aaron Russ - General Manager

Aaron spent a childhood like no other travelling on small ships every holiday to the Subantarctic Islands, New Zealand and Antarctica. Since that time, he has led expeditions on over 100 small ship cruises to the world’s most interesting regions. With a degree in zoology, a passion for photography and a desire to showcase the world’s premier destinations, he is the perfect person to lead the Wild Earth Travel team. Antarctica still remains one of his favourite destinations, however he recently lead a number of cruises around the Scottish Isles which he really enjoyed. Spending time recently with the great pacific navigator Mau Piailug in Micronesia is one of Aaron’s most recent highlights.

Recently Aaron spent time exploring and leading small ship cruises in the following destinations -

  • Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands
  • The Antarctic Peninsula
  • Spitsbergen & Greenland
  • The Canadian Arctic
  • Japan


Neil Saunders - Business Development (Adelaide)

Neil Saunders - Business Development (Adelaide)

With over 18 years travel industry experience, and expertise in Adventure Travel, Luxury Travel, Family Holidays and Small Ship Luxury and Expedition Cruising, Neil joins the Wild Earth Travel team managing our business development via the extensive Travel Agency Network in Australia.  Based in Adelaide and the home of wine in Australia, he loves nothing better than a good chat over a glass or two on travel and especially some of the great places you can visit on a small ship or while expedition cruising. He has sold tours, managed and run tour operators in the the UK, Europe and Australia and has travelled extensively in UK, USA, Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe including the Arctic (Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland). HIs most recent overseas trip was to Bali, Indonesia and is looking to head to the Pacific and Antarctica in the coming year.

Sarah Porter - Business Development (Auckland)

Sarah Porter  - Business Development (Auckland)

Sarah has been working with Wild Earth Travel since July 2014 but her passion for travel started at a very young age. Sarah is peppered with various experience and industry knowledge- after gaining a Communications degree she worked in the media industry for 10 years and also ran a supermarket on the small Pacific Island of Niue. Sarah is fairly busy with a young family and enjoys days out with them on the ocean either sailing, scuba diving, fishing, snorkelling or swimming. Sarah was drawn to her role with Wild Earth Travel because she loves "the idea of sharing such wonderful remote and iconic destinations. I love the variety of the itineraries we offer - from the expedition to luxury, solar to polar - we really do have something for everyone, and we help tick off so many bucket list trips for so many happy clients"

Sarah's travel wishlist starts in Raja Ampat as she would love to take the family along to swim with whale sharks, next is exploring Cuba with friends, and then finally retracing family ties in the Shetland Islands of Scotland (visiting whiskey distilleries of course, is also a must!). Sarah's first taste with small ship cruising was a short coastal cruise of New Zealand with her husband aboard L'Austral. Since then she has enjoyed experiencing an amazing family adventure on the Great Barrier Reef aboard Coral Expeditions II (and her kids would like to do this again rather than Disneyland!) and more recently she travelled to Antarctica on board Le' Soleal.

Diane Cowan - Accountant

Diane Cowan  - Accountant

Diane unfortunately only spends 3 days of the week in the office and the other 2 days you can find her working in and around Christchurch on native revegetation projects in the Port Hills or doing bird counts in various reserves. Fair to say Diane trumps at being the office's own Greenpeace Warrior, a passionate conservationist who in her spare time is growing native plant species in her back yard to be put to use in revegetation projects.

Diane has done her fair share of travel and Africa is one of her favourite places she keeps returning to. Often doing overland trips that include visiting Grauer’s gorillas as well as the 'creme de la creme'- climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. Other than Africa, Diane has also trekked in Nepal in the Khumbu/Everest area and visited Chitwan and in December 2000 she had an extensive trip to Patagonia which included a lot of camping and climbing in Argentina/Chile. Here in New Zealand she has lived and worked in Milford Sound for Summer seasons which has allowed her to explore a lot of the tracks in the Fiordland area as well as get out sea kayaking.


Nyssa Erskine - Marketing, Communications & Sales Specialist

Nyssa Erskine - Marketing, Communications & Sales Specialist


As a former magazine editor, Nyssa loves a good travel story whether it’s making her own or hearing the adventures of others. Having kicked off her career interning at Lonely Planet in Melbourne, Nyssa soon caught the travel bug, and has backpacked through Europe and Asia, “but there are many places still on the bucket list,” she says…

For now Nyssa, who recently relocated from Australia, is happily discovering the sights of New Zealand by way of road trips, camping expeditions (thankfully without the snakes, spiders or crocs! and tramps into the hills.


Tonia Kraakman - Online Content Coordinator

Tonia Kraakman - Online Content Coordinator

All the way from Russia Tonia finished University in Moscow with a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management in 2010 and started working right away in five-star luxury, small boutique and family owned hotels in both Russia and New Zealand. She was drawn to the industry because she enjoys inspiring people to attain new experiences and discover new things. Tonia's been with the Wild Earth since 2013 and she feels like working with the team is like "being part of a big family". Located down in Alexandra, Tonia spends her spare time wandering around the beautiful landscapes of Central Otago, camera in hand with her big adventurous dog. 

For her next small cruise ship adventure, Tonia has her eyes set on either the Galapagos Islands, spotting whales in the Arctic or experiencing the ruggedly beautiful British Isles. To see some of Tonia's photo highlights from her last small cruise ship voyage Beyond Fiordland in the Sub Antarctic Islands last December onboard Spirit of Enderby click here

Ellen Batchelor - Reservations Consultant

Ellen Batchelor  - Reservations Consultant

Ellen's passion for travel began when she started backpacking with friends which lead her to the industry with an eagerness to make some money in order to keep travelling! Ellen's been in the industry for15 years, and has been with Wild Earth Travel for 7. Her previous experience includes hotel reservations in York (UK), flight attendant around NZ & the Pacific Islands and working in Whistler (Canada). Ellen enjoys walking, swimming and weekends at home with her young family. Her next small ship cruise wishlist destination would be discovering the stunning waters of the Indian Ocean voyaging to Mauritius, Aldabra Islands and onto Tanzania. 

Ellens experience with small ship cruising includes voyaging on Caledonian Sky around the spectacular South Island of New Zealand, the Galapagos Islands on a cruise in March 2014, a ANZAC Nurses historical voyage around the Aegean in 2015, Forgotten Islands of the Pacific on Spirit of Enderby in 2016 and finally, Alaska's Glacier Bay on board Chichagof Dream in 2017

Tomasa Demarchi - Reservations Consultant

Tomasa Demarchi - Reservations Consultant

Tomasa has always loved travelling and figured out pretty quickly that if you're not on holiday yourself, the next best thing is spending time planning travel for others! Tomasa has been in the industry for nearly 20 years. Her previous experience includes working at Flight Centre, working with United Travel, and then teaching at the New Zealand School of Tourism for 5 years before joining Wild Earth last year. Outside of work Tomasa enjoys going on holiday and (when she's not overseas), she enjoys reading and dining out.

Tomasa's travel wishlist is extensive... but on the top of the list is voyaging to the Arctic (having been to Antarctica recently she would like to compare polar experiences), the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. In January 2019 Tomasa travelled with Ponant to Antarctica which, "was an amazing opportunity and it has just made me want to experience more of the world on a small ship (preferably with good wine and French cheese!)"

You can view Tomasa's trip photos here

Our Associates Include

Adventure Canada
Heritage Expeditions New Zealand
Lindblad Expeditions
Noble Caledonia
UnCruise Adventures
Variety Cruises