Having grown up in Christchurch, Luke developed an affinity for hunting in the surrounding high country. On leaving school, he took a technical course and started a building apprenticeship. Luke really enjoyed learning the building trade and reckons he learnt the full gamut of construction from start to finish, including building from scratch that which is readily prefabricated in the current industry.

Although Luke was enjoying his burgeoning building career, his rugby talent had other plans and he began playing professionally for Canterbury and the Crusaders. In 2012, he made his dream (no doubt shared by almost every Kiwi boy) a reality, earning his first All Blacks cap against Ireland. In total he’s racked up 32 games for the national team and well over 100 for the Crusaders, playing alongside legends of NZ rugby such as Richie McCaw and Dan Carter.

I asked Luke if he managed to fit any building work into his schedule once he started playing footy professionally. He said most people don’t understand the rigours and time put into professional rugby, explaining that his body is his ‘tool’ in the rugby trade and you have to look after it. He did mention he’d managed to put his tradie skills to use around the house when he could, completing some DIY projects such as putting in a substantial deck.

Off-contract at the end of the 2019 season, the former All Black lock has been presented with at least a couple of lucrative deals at European clubs over the past year but has made it clear he has no interest in chasing a dollar abroad. Luke only wants to play for Canterbury and the Crusaders and believes his experience could be crucial for the team losing some key veterans this World Cup year. When the gas does run out, Luke’s lined up a professional gig suited to his other passion. He’s established an outdoor adventure tourism business called Monarch Pursuits. Originally geared towards hunting, Monarch Pursuits has been diversified to provide bespoke, tailored itineraries including experiences such as estate hunting, pristine river fishing, back-country heli-skiing, or simply relaxing around NZ. Guests are treated to a world-class experience staying at some of the country’s most exclusive alpine retreats and exploring off the- beaten-track locations.

Monarch Pursuits is financially backed by a team of successful Christchurch business people and an operations team with extensive tourism experience. Luke considers himself part of the practical side of the outfit with his hunting and outdoor experience.
“We wanted to bring a high-end, luxury tourism feel to the entire experience, so from the moment guests land to the time they leave, everything is taken care of. We’ve partnered with a selection of outstanding lodges, guides and operators so guests receive the best of what our country has to offer. We want people to leave New Zealand with their minds blown, to go home to wherever in the world they’re from and say how fantastic the country is.”

Although the bulk of Monarch’s clientele are likely to be international tourists, Luke says the experiences will be amazing for Kiwis too – “whether it’s an older couple who aren’t interested in hunting and just want to have a high-end holiday package put together and tour around New Zealand, to a group of mates who want to hunt and fish before spending four-days enjoying all the excitement down in Queenstown, to families who want to do a little bit of everything. We want to appeal to every individual on the spectrum because we can cater to all their needs.”

Luke will be actively involved in the business dealing personally with all clients and, as his rugby schedule permits, will be part of the hunting trips. Who knows, he might even get the call-up to Japan if there are a few All Black locking injuries…

Article by: Nick Jones