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Intrepid NZ


Part 1: Behind the scenes with Jamie and Kevin

Jamie Fitzgerald and Kevin Biggar have rowed the Atlantic ocean together, and set a record doing so. The pair braved freezing temperature and a myriad of dangers to trek their way unassisted to the South Pole, and they've investigated Kiwi 'firsts' in their show First Crossings.

Now, the iconic New Zealand adventurers are back with their new show Intrepid NZ , airing on television screens around Aotearoa on Wednesdays, 9.35pm on TV ONE. 

The hosts, Jamie and Kevin, sat down to talk about what to expect, what they enjoyed most about shooting this time around, and even shared a bit about themselves.

Here's part one, and you can find part two HERE.


Q: What is it that inspires you to keep doing these legendary Kiwi journeys together?

Kevin: The stories are amazing for a start. I'm constantly astounded that I didn’t know these things. But learning about the Ruth Adams rescue, where Sir Edmund Hillary was involved. It was pretty topical. Now, with Intrepid NZ, we get to recreate that rescue and see what incredible effort he and the rescuers went to. It really helps shape your views about him, how tough he was, his attitude towards mountain rescues, and that was basically you should do what it takes to get the person down!

Jamie: Intrepid NZ gives us the ability to explore other great stories that might not be geographic firsts but relevant, trail blazing stories where people have gone through adversity, or had to overcome massive obstacles just to try and save themselves or other people.  It’s broadened our ability to look at different stories.


Q: Which journey in Intrepid NZ was the hardest for you?

Kevin: I think the Mount Aspiring story I felt particularly pushed in. The weather was bad, and we had a couple of days where we couldn’t film and we were hunkered down. That was the theme for this shoot. With First Crossings, we always had awesome weather. We had a thing called First Crossing's weather where we would be in a place where it was meant to rain, but it would be perfectly sunny! Whereas in Intrepid NZ ,we just got dumped on. Climbing Mount Aspiring was tough. 

Jamie: The Grafton one was tough. We're in a boat for a long period of time, it's old and rickety, leaking, we're constantly using the bilge pump and pushing water out. We’d done the Atlantic crossing together so you have this comparison of a tiny modern day boat, then you’re freaking out because this boat isn’t like that. You’ve got a few hundred kilograms of rocks in the bottom acting as a ballast. It’s unnatural. The men who did this trip after the Grafton shipwreck, I couldn’t believe they did it, or that they could thrive in an environment like that. When we were out there doing it in moderately okay weather, it was exhausting for us, but energy sapping comparing what they would’ve gone through.


Q: Which moment was a personal high?

Jamie: Learning about the Maori story of Te Kooti going through Te Urewaras. Up until now we hadn’t done a story focusing on Maori trails. I was nervous, but I was grateful we got to do that and I had the chance to learn about it.  There are a lot of different perspectives about the story, but I hope people enjoy learning about something that's really important to the fabric of New Zealand’s history.

Kevin: Getting to the top of Mount Aspiring, the first big peak I’ve ever climbed. It's around10,000 feet. It was a dodgy day. We got to the top, the skies opened up and we managed to shout into the camera at the top. We had thirty seconds completely unscripted and then the clouds closed in again, and we had to make our way down. That was such a long day of hard work.

Jamie: Then we spent the next 24 hours with really bad snow blindness.

Kevin: It was like having Cajun pepper in your eye balls, you couldn’t open your eyes. We were stuck in the hut afterwards luckily, because the weather outside was terrible, a blizzard. So we couldn't do anything anyways.


Q: Did you learn anything new about each other?  Is there anything left to learn?

Kevin: Jamie still amazes me, how able he is to solve problems in different situations. You only ever know part of the story when you shoot it, that they went from point A to B, but the rest we have to make up on the spot. How you put up a shelter, or dig a cave. It’s very helpful having someone who’s handy. Jamie used to be a fencer and he knows his knots, but it keeps coming out.

Jamie: When we first met three weeks before doing the trans-Atlantic rowing race, that was 2003, our lives have changed on a personal basis. We’ve both got married. (Not to each other, Kevin chimes in). We have children, so our lives have changed and how we approach these trips has changed. It kind of feels like a job, but we’re also two mates moving through our lives, and how we interact and support each other and use each other as a reference point has changed but it’s been cool over the decade!


Q: What do you think has changed over the years in regards to New Zealand’s pioneering spirit?

Jamie: I think people, more so now, ask themselves about the opportunity cost of doing something. They're precious about how they spend their time and where or what they spend their time doing. It’s easier to get someone else to do it now than spend time figuring out the skills required. People back then were far more self aware of their dependence on themselves. Because, now, if you get stuck in a crevasse, if you’ve got a beacon you just flick the switch and someone comes to get you. Back then, that couldn’t happen, you had to have the skills to get out yourself.