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: 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.