When Kelly’s not riding, writing or photographing, she loves to travel the world in search of adventure, challenging herself to live life to the full. At 18 years old she created The List; 100 things which sparked a lifelong quest to seek out new experiences and continual self-improvement. Since then, the list has almost doubled in length as Kelly continues to find new interests that fire her imagination. She has already achieved over 130 things, all of which have shaped and moulded her into the person she is today.
The very first thing she crossed off that list, in 2008, was sky-diving, in order to conquer her fear of heights. Since then, she has continued to challenge herself by flying a glider plane (2009), wing-walking (2014), doing the Shotover Canyon Swing (also 2014) and bungy jumping (2016). Holding a boa constrictor (2017) was another achievement that made her face a debilitating fear of snakes that developed when she was chased by one in America seven years earlier.
Although she wasn’t particularly adventurous growing up, Kelly now thrives on adrenalin and loves anything extreme. Over the past decade she has enjoyed (or in some cases not enjoyed!) canyoning down waterfalls (2016), hiking the Grand Canyon (2010), an Open Bull Ride at a rodeo (2015), black-water rafting (2014), paint ball (2013), wind surfing (2017), jet boating (2008), an African safari (2017), abseiling on Table Mountain (2017), befriending a wild monkey (2016), hiking Angles Landing (a tall rock foundation in the USA, in 2015), riding camels 300km across the desert in -40 degree conditions (2018), camping under the stars (2015) and white-water rafting (2013).
Having never seen snow until she was 21 years old, Kelly made up for lost time by building her first snowman (2010) and learning to snowboard (2008). Now fascinated by snow and ice, she has also kayaked among icebergs (2015), ice-climbed (2015), driven a snow-mobile (2015), been husky sledding (2015) and hiked to a glacier (2015).
Having always enjoyed the ocean, Kelly’s list has also provided her with opportunities to explore her love of water sports. She has learnt to wakeboard (2012), got her Advanced scuba diving licence (2016), tried fly boarding (2015) and surfing (2014), swum with dolphins (2009), cage-dived with great white sharks (2017), snorkelled with turtles (2012), and gone jet skiing (2009) and whale watching (2012).
For an 18-year-old who’d never travelled outside of New Zealand, the list was also a way for Kelly to give substance to her dreams of seeing the world. She has travelled to over 20 countries in search of adventure, including Mongolia, America, Australia, Canada, Bali, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, Croatia, Austria, Germany, Thailand, Tonga, Monaco, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rica, the Bahamas and Africa.
It isn’t all about adventure, though. Many of the things on the list have challenged Kelly creatively and intellectually: graduating from university (2009), publishing a book (2013), exhibiting her photography (2012) and designing a website (2009). Always open to trying something new, she also included anything that she felt might be interesting to try, even if only for the novelty. There have been dancing lessons (2010), working out with a personal trainer three days a week for three months (2018), a cruise (2015), attending an opera (2018), aiding a charity (2013), playing poker at a casino (2013), attending a concert (2011), island-hopping on a sailboat (2017), USA Summer Camp (2010), Oktoberfest in Germany (2010), stargazing (2009), getting a bullseye at a shooting range (2014), riding an elephant (2012), learning to back-flip (2018), road-tripping through the Wild West (2015) and clay-bird shooting (2010).
Of course, having spent her entire life riding, the list wouldn’t be complete without a diverse range of equestrian goals. Kelly has jumped 1.50m on Vicki’s leading Grand Prix mare Showtym Girl (2009), tamed her first wild horse (2012), gone for a midnight beach ride (2017), mustered cattle (2015), trained a horse at liberty (2017), cut cattle out from a herd (2017), watched the Global Champions Tour (2017) and trained horses to bow (2009), lie down (2017) and rear (2017).
‘In many ways, the list became a place to write down my dreams, goals and aspirations, serving as a constant reminder to live outside my comfort zone, reach for the stars and challenge myself to take everything that life has to offer. While there’s still plenty more adventures to be had, I look back and am so thankful for where life has taken me – all of which wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t put pen to paper all those years ago.
I hope my list challenges and inspires you, as much as it has me.’