After some final editing and a final trip to Melbourne to meet with production company executives during the Screen Forever conference, we have finally achieved a major milestone – the release of Episode 1 – The Wettest Place On Earth. It was our goal to release this episode prior to Christmas and with slightly less than a week to spare and with a huge post editing push we managed to get the final cut release yesterday.
In this episode I traveled to Fjordland National Park in New Zealand’s South Island. The main theme for the trip was meant to be a survival holiday beginning with my arrival by charter plane at Martins Bay – a very isolated location which is 70kms from the nearest road. Things began to change immediately after arrival however as during our arrival check in satellite telephone call (a safety precaution to let home now we were departing on foot), we learnt that my camera man’s son had taken ill and been taken to hospital. The most sensible decision was for him to board the aircraft before it left and fly back out which unfortunately left me without a camera man for the entire duration of the trip.
This resulted in the entire episode being self-filmed. A very difficult process in which the filming quickly absorbed more time than the adventure / survival purpose of the trip, however I am very happy with the result and that the final episode shows the adventure from start to finish. Unfortunately when self-filming, the best parts of the adventure (the risky parts) cannot be filmed due to not being able to do two things at once. Unfortunately this meant that there is no footage of my crossing of a raging flooded river shown in the title, no real detail of the magnitude of the storm that hit and caused people to be stranded in country, and little B Roll footage to be able to use through the editing process. (B Roll is the minor footage taken on an adventure used to fill the short pieces of the film.) The key learning has been to never self-film again, however I’m glad I took on this challenge and produced a great outcome.
The storm was so significant that a lot of people were stranded. Most walk the 70kms into Martins Bay and then fly out, but the storm flooded the airstrip which meant that the air operator had to delay the return flight by two days. Some people had also been delayed by the weather and had held up in huts for several days and those unprepared were facing up to 4 days without food supply. Perhaps not life threatening, however certainly an uncomfortable experience.
I provided assistance to a German tourist that had become dehydrated (hard to imagine with so much water around) and a Swedish backpacker who had actually managed the entire loop around Alabaster despite the conditions, however she was looking quite the worse for wear. I also provided assistance via sat phone communication to a search and rescue team who were searching for another German tourist that had been missing for 3 days (and was later found). The Search and Rescue team’s satellite phone had become waterlogged and so they were able to re-centre the search operation using my phone.
Reflecting on this trip afterwards, the importance of being prepared for a variety of conditions and environments was highlighted. So many of the people I came across were ill prepared or not fit enough to handle the situation they found themselves in. I am all for getting outside and exploring the world on your own terms, but taking a blasé approach to your readiness in an environment that is known to be as changeable as Fjordland will quickly place you in peril. Being the wettest place on earth with over 6 metres of rainfall per year, it should be expected that you will face torrential conditions which may occur quickly. This can quickly turn uncomfortable if you have the wrong clothing and lets face it, water proof anything will not keep you completely dry for 15 days straight in those conditions. This said, I came across a few well-seasoned trekkers that carried light, high quality gear and were well prepared and coping well with the fitness requirements.
As we head into Christmas for this year I am currently beginning the planning for Episode 2 – The Jurassic Jewel. In this episode I will make an epic journey across the open ocean from Sydney NSW to Lord Howe island, stopping at the Jurassic Jewel – Elizabeth Reef for fishing and spearfishing adventures, then travel on to Lord Howe Island, and conduct various adventures on the island including Mount Gower walk (Grade 10 walk and hardest in Australia), Ned’s Beach (swimming with King fish) and restaurant / café life. Lots of interaction with island locals and retelling of Lord Howe famous stories including air crashes and famous wrecks. I am currently seeking Expressions of Interest for sponsorship for this episode particularly relating to the supply of an appropriate vessel and to fund a professional film crew. At this point in time we are preferring a minimum 38 foot power cruiser with twin diesel props. Please contact us if you can provide support in any way. I have also just taken delivery of two Shimano Stella’s, a 10,000 and a 20,000 which we will be using comprehensively on the trip. We will be posting a review of these reels and the matched T-Curve Bluewater series rods in due course.
Thanks again. Get Outdoors and be safe.