Day 16: Waterproof
wake without a hangover to look out of my window. Paradise is waiting
for me just the other side of the log wall. Mike and I mess about for
much of the morning trying to dry the various sheets and anticipating
the camp out.
We escape from the
sawmill at lunchtime in the little Hughes. From the air we can see the
paths that the local rivers have taken over the last few centuries as
winding depressions in the flat grassland near the coast. Even today the
rivers constantly change course.
We approach Mt. Rangitoto,
which for a short while will be our home and soon land in the tiny clearing.
This time we are filmed, and have to be very careful to get things right.
Our pilot, Chris Cowen, does a superb job. As the helicopter flies away
the cold hits us.
While we are on the
mountain Chris' ground crew, Peter, will be looking after us. He
is a great bloke and helps out with a chainsaw. He knows a bit about the
bush and has strong, sensible views about the ecological problems that
New Zealand is suffering. In particular the huge culls of Thar, which
he thinks is tragic.
mid-afternoon the shelter (nicknamed 'the Edifice' by Martin) is all but
finished, so Mike and I start on a bottle of brandy that we brought up
with us. All too soon it is dark. Martin has sorted out a makeshift kitchen
in the porch of the old miners' hut, which is the only part of the place
that isn't rotten, and together with Peter, Derek and John (the
cameraman and sound recordest) we have some dinner and drink more brandy
By the end of the
evening Mike and I are amusingly intoxicated. Neither of us are capable
of talking any sense to the camera and at one point Mike ends up laying
on the ground amid frozen blades of grass claiming that he is going to
sleep right there under the stars. I can sort of see his point. The stars
are the best that I have ever seen and in the Southern hemisphere look
very different to home. I crawl into the tent. It is surprisingly warm
because of the hot rocks and would remain so until early morning. Amazingly
it was one of the most comfortable nights that I have ever spent in a
filming this challenge
tent sequence was filmed on private land (not government land administered
by NZ DOC) with the full knowledge and co-operation of the owners. The
production team were advised by a member of the Westland District Council
and accompanied by an experienced bushman.
The area where the
vegetation was cut down is a landing site for helicopters for the owners
to access their land (the vegetation is cut back regularly in this area
to allow safe landing for helicopters).
The production team
worked closely with the Department of Conservation in New Zealand to minimise
any impact from filming.