Kiwi adventurer Chloe Phillips-Harris leads expedition across Gobi Desert

Intrepid Kiwi adventurer Chloe Phillips-Harris is driven by one motto - "to live is to explore" - and now she's gone to new heights, snowboarding behind a camel across the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.

The 29-year-old has just returned home after leading a team of six New Zealanders, two Australians and an American 300km across the harsh ice fields during winter. 

"I've visited Mongolia before but wanted to try crossing the Gobi in winter," she says.

"Windswept plains, mountains as high as 7000 feet and icy sand dunes… temperatures at one point dipped to minus 40 degrees."

The group and their camels trekked up to 30km a day over 10 days, occasionally snowboarding behind them.   

A competitive NZ equestrian rider based in the Bay of Islands, Ms Phillips-Harris says: "One of the first nights we were out there, we woke up in the morning, and a cow and four goats had frozen to death literally 20 metres from where we were sleeping."

Chloe Phillips-Harris
Chloe Phillips-Harris. Photo credit: Newshub

The journey was made possible with the help of nomadic families, who hosted the team at night, and helped clothe them in traditional sheepskins and silks. 

"The nomads in Mongolia are just amazing .You are borrowing these camels off them but you can only take a camel a certain distance and not out of their home environment, so it's a huge logistical exercise making sure you can change camels along the way."

Ms Phillips-Harris is no stranger to the saddle. 

When she's not competing on horses, she's wakeboarding behind them in Northland, training locals in Egypt how to care for working animals or helping with ecological surveys in Australia's Simpson Desert.

Ms Phillips-Harris says adventure for her is "fuelled by a curiosity, which started with training wild horses years ago" and her dreams have now come true, becoming the first person, she believes, to snowboard across the Gobi Desert. 

She says she'll definitely be doing another camel adventure but now has her sights set on working with the "wonderful" people of the Arctic and their reindeer.


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