Episode 14: Call of the Hills
John Newell and Erewhon Station owner Colin Drummond at the reins of a Clydesdale team. Photo by Tony Benny.
Ritchie McCaw with his trophy bull thar. Photo by Tony Benny.
Raewyn Hillyer hunts thar by helicopter on Erewhon Station. Photo by Tony Benny.
Originally screened on 15 May at 7pm on TV ONE.
Call of the Hills
All Black captain Richie McCaw goes hunting - not for the loose ball, but for a trophy thar - in this week's Country Calendar programme.
McCaw's venture into the mid-Canterbury high country is guided by John Newell, who's set up a new business to give people back-country hunting and camping experiences.
John was working for a Canterbury company converting land into dairy pasture when the recession struck, the work dried up and he was out of a job.
He sought work at Erewhon Station, at the head of the Rangitata River - but when owner Colin Drummond said times were too tight for him to employ anyone, John offered to work for no pay.
His love of the back country was so great that he was prepared to forego wages to spend time on the station and build up new skills - particularly with the station's famed Clydesdale horses.
A dedicated hunter, John soon saw there were plenty of deer and thar on Erewhon. Colin was happy to let him go shooting, and gave him hunting rights to the station's trophy bull thar.
At the same time, John had started working with a helicopter pilot, helping other high country run holders keep deer populations in check and selling the meat to a processing company. It didn't take long for a new idea to form.
As a hunter for more than thirty years, John was often asked to take others hunting, something he was happy to do for free. But he realised his skills were in demand, so he's formed a guided hunting business.
He takes most of his clients to Erewhon Station to hunt bull thar amidst some of the finest scenery in the Southern Alps.
Richie McCaw was one of his first customers and the Country Calendar crew filmed the two on a thar hunt.
The crew also filmed John and his partner Raewyn Hillyer hunting by helicopter to keep high country deer and thar populations under control.