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Explorers is a documentary series that retraces some of the epic journeys undertaken by our early explorers as they forged their way through unmapped country across New Zealand.

Four nineteenth century overland journeys provide the challenge for host Peter Elliott , who swaps the comforts of modern maritime transport, familiar to him during Captains Log, for a pair of sturdy tramping boots. 

Elliott picks up his backpack and plunges into some of New Zealands most forbidding and spectacular hinterland to uncover the tracks of four of our pioneering Pakeha explorers:

Episode One:  Draughtsman, Charles Heaphy
Episode Two: Surveyor, Thomas Brunner
Episode Three: Gold Prospector, Alpheus J (George) Barrington
Episode Four: Missionary, William Colenso .

In the mid-nineteenth century New Zealand was still a young and largely undiscovered country. Local Maori had local knowledge of their own lands and their travels - but Pakeha society, and the outside world, knew little of the interiors of the islands or their more far-flung coastlines.

The new colony was attracting people who were travellers, pioneers and adventurers. They were ready to bravely plunge into hinterlands where they had little idea of what lay in store for them.  The explorers had their own motives, hopes and dreams; they were looking for gold or souls or land for farming - or they were just wanted to know what was out there. They made journeys that were epic in scope and heroic in nature - but a century and a half later many of them are unsung heroes. Their experiences helped forge our nation and we owe them a debt of gratitude. These are their stories - but they are also ours.

We make no claim that these were journeys of genuine discovery. But they were journeys made by people from an utterly foreign civilisation who had come to the ends of the earth that they knew. They were experiencing a world that was completely new to them  - and what they found was more dramatic and exotic than anything we could now conjure up ourselves.

Explorers calls on Peter Elliott's skills as an accomplished actor and storyteller and allows him to convey his passion for this countrys great outdoors, its history and its people.

Over the course of four episodes, Explorers will see Peter undertake four great journeys - one in the North Island and three in the South Island. He tramps through remote and exposed country not for the faint hearted and experiences some of the hardships that explorers faced a hundred and fifty years ago endless rain, flooded rivers, freezing cold and ravenous mosquitoes. He will explain where they went, what they did - and why. He will detail the often-dramatic landscape changes in the intervening years. And he will reflect on how the journeys are affecting him physically and mentally.

Peter does, of course, have the aid of modern bush craft and survival equipment, guides and experts - but he always has one eye on how the early explorers survived with their inadequate equipment so far from the possibility of help or rescue.

Peter's progress is supported by an extensive archive of maps, paintings and drawings - but most importantly, by the actual diaries of the explorers involved. These journals provide a stunning wealth of information and capture the spirit and flavour of the journeys that Peter is following.

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