NOTES & QUERIES

In Wild­boy, Brando Yelavich de­scribed his solo trek around the coast of both the North and South Is­lands. In Wild­boy: To the Edge and Back (Pen­guin, $ 35), he de­scribes the equally dif­fi­cult cir­cum­am­bu­la­tion of Rak­iura/ste­wart Is­land.

North & South - - Review - by paul lit­tle

NORTH & SOUTH: Where are you right now? BRANDO YELAVICH: In Wanaka, just about to set off for Mt Cook to get there in the storm. I’m hop­ing to be stuck there a while and I’m going to do some ski­ing and moun­tain bik­ing. Yes­ter­day, I was ski­ing be­hind my truck, get­ting towed down the road…

N&S: How did Wild­boy change things for you? BY: It changed my life hugely. When I set off to walk around New Zealand, it was about chang­ing my life and the walk was the defin­ing fac­tor. That was all I wanted to get out of it, but it grew while I was do­ing it. The book was an opportunity to put down a story that can in­spire oth­ers younger and older to get out and do some­thing, even if their life has gone off the track.

N&S: But now you’ve got noth­ing left to walk around.

BY: There’s lots of pad­dling to do. I’m hop­ing to ride across Mon­go­lia in the next cou­ple of years. Me and my part­ner have done a bit of re­search into that. A big con­tribut­ing thing to my ad­ven­tures now is they’re not going to be alone. I made that re­ally stand out in the first two books. I’d for­got­ten how crap it is to be alone.

N&S: So, de­spite the solo ad­ven­tur­ing, you’re not re­ally a loner? BY: Not at all. I hate be­ing on my own. But I think it’s healthy to get out on your own a cou­ple of times in your life when you’ve for­got­ten who you are – then you re­alise things about your­self. Which is what I be­lieve shows in the first chap­ter of the new book. It shows how much I’d lost a con­nec­tion with the out­doors.

N&S: How did that hap­pen?

BY: A big part of what I do is so­cial me­dia these days. I en­joy it be­cause it’s a plat­form to in­spire oth­ers, but it comes at a cost. When I’m at some beautiful place, I’m con­stantly try­ing to cap­ture con­tent for so­cial me­dia. I hadn’t re­alised it, but I was going out to get con­tent to in­spire peo­ple, rather than going out on an ad­ven­ture for my­self and cre­at­ing nat­u­ral con­tent. That’s where I got lost. Now, I don’t do things to look cool in a photo.

N&S: There’s an im­pres­sion you walked around New Zealand and that sorted your life out, but it hasn’t been that sim­ple, has it? BY: No, es­pe­cially be­cause I was young and naive at the time. Nine­teen is pretty young to have dis­cov­ered most of the things I’d dis­cov­ered, and a lot didn’t sink in. I learnt all these lessons but wasn’t ex­pe­ri­enced enough at life to com­pre­hend a lot of them. I’m still learn­ing ev­ery day. You’re al­ways learn­ing and tak­ing new paths and get­ting on the wrong one and then get­ting back. I’d dropped out of school. I hated school, so I thought I hated learn­ing. Then I dis­cov­ered that if I’m learn­ing things I’m pas­sion­ate about, I en­joy it. So, I went back to uni and have just about fin­ished a diploma in ad­ven­ture tourism.

N&S: And then what?

BY: If I do ad­ven­ture tours, I want to do some­thing spe­cial I can of­fer to kids. Not your nor­mal out­doorsy thing. I want to be able to of­fer peo­ple the chance to send their kid away for 30 days – I’m talk­ing about young adults – and change their life, giv­ing them a new out­look on ev­ery­thing they thought they knew; where I can ac­tu­ally make a dif­fer­ence and can see that change.

Brando Yelavich on Ste­wart Is­land.

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