Three’s reality TV show Tracked reached its dramatic conclusion this week, with two 20-year-old Otago hunters winning the ultimate prize.
Gabe Ross, of Lake Hawea, and Riley Meason, of East Otago, outplayed top Wanaka adventure racers and fellow finalists Simone Maier (42) and Emily Wilson (31), going on to win the show and the $100,000 prize.
Speaking to The News, Meason said the duo, who made up Team Brown in the show, were ‘‘over the moon’’ about their win.
‘‘We felt pretty proud of ourselves, what we’ve managed to achieve and what we’ve managed to prove to each other.’’
Ross agreed, and said it felt good to come out on top of what had been a ‘‘pretty crazy’’ finale.
‘‘It was a weird dynamic . . . competing throughout most of the competition against multiple teams, and now it just being a bit of a one versus one situation.’’
Tracked originally involved eight teams racing across New Zealand’s southern wilds while also attempting to evade capture by a pair of active special forces trackers.
Maier and Wilson, known as Team Grey in the show, were a surprise ninth team added partway through the competition. The pair were ‘‘gutted’’ at not claiming the win in the finale.
‘‘We didn’t boss it! We came second,’’ Wilson said.
Maier disagreed. ‘‘We did boss it. We made it into the final. That was bossing it,’’ she said.
The duo were generous with their praise for their male rivals.
‘‘We really enjoyed the competition with the Browns. We would rather have won, but they did well. It was a tight competition and we are happy for them,’’ Maier, a four-time Coast to Coast champion, said.
From the start, Team Brown formed an alliance with Team Red, Regan Pearce, (45, Ngati Tuwharetoa) and Regan Pomare (31, Ngapuhi), both of Queenstown, and it remained the whole way through.
Pearce said while it was unfortunate the final did not come down to those two teams, it was ‘‘just fantastic’’ Team Brown had done the job. ‘‘We’re just absolutely stoked for them both.
‘‘Throughout the whole production, the whole mission, those guys worked bloody hard and they are deserved victors.
‘‘We’re still good mates and we’re having a lot of laughs looking back through what we all did,’’ he said.
Looking towards the future, Ross said the pair wanted to invest more time into The Weekend Mish, a series of hunting fishing and diving shorts they uploaded to YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.
‘‘We want to go all out now. We want to put that money towards funding our expeditions to get our social media pumping and our small business growing. And then hopefully even pitch a TV show down the line.’’
All episodes of Tracked can be streamed on ThreeNow.