Six-months trav­el­ling the world and on­line

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

A small-town boy is about to em­bark on the large-scale ad­ven­ture of a life­time.

Lewis Whaitiri will live the dream of 22-year-olds all over the coun­try as he sets off on a six-month, all ex­penses paid trip around the world.

The only catch is that he will be filmed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Eden Ter­race me­dia stud­ies stu­dent is the win­ner of the Gap Year, a re­al­ity se­ries run by Bebo and En­de­mol.

The se­ries fol­lows six young peo­ple on their trav­els around the world which will then be screened in halfhour episodes on the pop­u­lar net­work­ing web­site.

Orig­i­nally from Gis­borne, Mr Whaitiri was among 400 New Zealan­ders who au­di­tioned for the spot on the show.

Along with the other five con­tes­tants from Aus­tralia, Eng­land, Ire­land, Canada and the United States, Mr Whaitiri will set off next Wed­nes­day to a mys­tery lo­ca­tion.

Al­though they will be trav­el­ling sep­a­rately, the group may meet up at var­i­ous legs of the jour­ney to per­form chal­lenges in ex­otic lo­ca­tions such as Machu Pic­chu, Vi­enna, the Hi­malayas, the Grand Canyon and Thai­land.

Gap Year trav­ellers will chart their trav­els on Bebo through video di­aries, blogs and pho­tos and fel­low Bebo users will be able to en­gage with them, shar­ing travel tips and vot­ing in weekly polls to de­ter­mine how their jour­neys un­ravel.

Al­though he has done some trav­el­ling with kapa haka groups, this will be the first time Mr Whaitiri has been away from home for more than a few weeks.

He says his whanau in Gis­borne have been in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive.

“I think they’re more ex­cited than I am right now.”

He says fam­ily and friends have even been hold­ing raffl to raise ex­tra spend­ing money for him and says a lot of them are even think­ing of get­ting broad­band so they can keep in touch with him on Bebo.

For some­one who has no idea about where he will spend the next six months of his life, Mr Whaitiri is re­mark­ably re­laxed.

Al­though he doesn’t mind where his jour­neys take him, he says he would love to visit Egypt.

“I orig­i­nally en­tered with the thought of want­ing to visit all the won­ders of the world and do the haka on them,” he says.

“But I’ll just go with the flow and see what hap­pens and en­joy the jour­ney while it lasts.”

En­de­mol UK’s dig­i­tal stu­dios head Pasa Mustafa says it was Lewis’ “larger than life” char­ac­ter that helped him win his place.

“I re­mem­ber when our ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer first met him, Lewis was opera singing his way through his au­di­tions and we just fell about on the floor laugh­ing. He has that ef­fect on you.”

Mr Mustafa says fol­low­ing Bebo’s suc­cess in­ter­na­tion­ally Gap Year is sim­ply the next step into re­al­ity TV.

“For the 13 to 24-year-olds on Bebo, travel rep­re­sents a sub­ject that crosses ev­ery cul­tural bar­rier and con­nects their global au­di­ence. We will see the trav­ellers be­come adults as the jour­ney shapes their ex­pe­ri­ences.”

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Globe trot­ting: Lewis Whaitiri is about to set off on a six-month trip around the world which will be screened on Bebo.

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