Susan Strongman

Broadcasting reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Wildboy eyes TV after trek

Perhaps seeking to follow in the footsteps of Bear Grylls, Brando Yelavich  now hopes to have his own TV series to inspire young people.
Perhaps seeking to follow in the footsteps of Bear Grylls, Brando Yelavich now hopes to have his own TV series to inspire young people.

After spending almost 600 days circumnavigating New Zealand's coastline, Brando Yelavich has set his sights on television.

The 20-year-old adventurer from Greenhithe in Auckland reached Cape Reinga on Saturday after a gruelling journey of more than 7000km to raise money for Ronald McDonald House.

Yesterday, Mr Yelavich, also known as Wildboy, said he celebrated with a big feed of fish and chips with his family on Saturday night.

"I'm as fit as I've ever been, but I hope I'm not going to get fat now."

He was happy to be back with his family, and said it was good to sleep in a comfortable bed.

"Mum brought me a memory foam pillow and it was the best thing ever."

He said that when he came around the final corner on Saturday, he knew he had completed his journey, and was "lost for words".

Perhaps seeking to follow in the footsteps of Bear Grylls, Mr Yelavich now hopes to have his own TV series to inspire young people, and also wants to write a children's book.

"This is only the beginning," he said.

His hike raised more than $30,000 for Ronald McDonald House, but Mr Yelavich said it was his supporters, not him, who raised the money.

"I'm very proud of myself, I have inspired myself," he said, adding that he started the journey as a 19-year-old boy and finished it as a man.

Just weeks into his journey, he was rescued from rocks near Muriwai as he was caught by an incoming tide, and a river crossing in Golden Bay nearly turned fatal.

Mr Yelavich spoke to schools and community groups on his way around the country and many donated to his chosen charity.

Although he had spent much of his time sleeping in his tent and living off the land, he also accepted meals and accommodation from strangers.

"When I first started off I didn't think that would happen at all, but I've got a lot of mums and dads all round the country now."

Check out Brando's journey at his Facebook page.

- NZ Herald

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