Wildboy’s adventures to continue

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International explorer Brando Yelavich, also known as “Wildboy”, is swapping ice for lush forest for his next expedition.

Mr Yelavich, who recently made Wanaka his home between adventures, will take a kayak around Vancouver Island, off Canada’s Pacific Coast.

The journey will be a stark contrast to his last adventure, a 560km crossing of the Greenland ice cap.

Mr Yelavich took part in the crossing as part of the Antarctic Heritage Trust Inspiring Explorers’ Expedition.

The journey was “like cramming your head inside a teeny tiny ping-pong ball” – “having nothing to look at but white all the time.”

“Occasionally you would have blue sky, but otherwise it was literally just a flat sheet of ice.”

Despite being in one of the most remote and unforgiving climates on the planet, one of the challenges for Mr Yelavich was boredom.

“We pretty much started trudging, every single day – I got really bored. My brain is a very stimulated place; there is a lot going on in my head and suddenly there was nothing to look at.

“I started driving myself a little bit crazy, just having nothing to focus on – you were just out there and you couldn’t see the end of anything. It was like, if you kept walking in a straight line, eventually you would just fall off.”

This changed when the team had to bunker down for two storms.

Because the ice sheet was so flat, “you could see the storms coming a day or two days before”.

“You could see it moving across the ice.

“We faced some pretty gnarly storms, to be honest.”

First they had to bunker down for a blizzard, then only a few days later they were told they had a hurricane coming, meaning they had to dig a hole underground for their tents.

“We had to fully dig our tents underneath the snow and build a massive wall in front of them and strap them down.

“We were stuck in our tents for three days, waiting for that storm to blow over – it was a long time to spend stuck inside a tiny tent.”

White everywhere . . . Brando Yelavich during a 560km journey across Greenland. PHOTO: KEITH PARSONS / ANTARCTIC HERITAGE TRUST

His next adventure would be considerably more colourful and a lot warmer.

He would swap frozen ice for 30degC temperatures and lush forest during a 60-day, 1700km kayak journey around Vancouver Island, in Canada.

“They’ve got bears and cougars and coastal wolves, crazy predators we don’t even have to think about in New Zealand.”

“The bears aren’t even the scary thing over there; the cougars are what tend to kill people,” he said.

The best way to prepare for a cougar attack was “don’t look them in the eyes and don’t turn your back on them.”

The aim of the journey was to highlight the plight of southern resident killer whales.

This species gained international attention recently when a mother orca whale carried her dead calf for 16 days, he said.

“In the last three years they have had no new young, and they have dropped from 126 to 72, just in three years.”

While he was in Canada, Mr Yelavich would contribute to a film highlighting how endangered the species had become.

As well as promoting environmental causes, Mr Yelavich said he wanted to inspire others to do great things with their lives.

His personal story including struggling with ADHD and dyslexia before he challenged himself to change his life by walking around the coast of New Zealand.

“What drives my adventurous spirit is curiosity. I always want to be discovering new things about myself and about the natural environment.”

By sharing stories of his adventures he hoped “someone who is struggling with their life will have a read of what I am doing and be like ‘why can’t I do something like that’.”

“My real passion comes from helping others, and inspiring others to live their dream – make your own luck.”