'Wildboy' nears end of epic coastline trek

Brando Yelavich: 'There's been points where I have wished I hadn't started, but there's never been a point where I've wanted to give up.'
Brando Yelavich: 'There's been points where I have wished I hadn't started, but there's never been a point where I've wanted to give up.'
Brando Yelavich, aka Wildboy, is just nine days away from becoming the first person to circumnavigate New Zealand's coastline on foot.

The final 110km of the 20-year-old Aucklander's 8000km journey will end at Cape Reinga on August 23.

Mr Yelavich began the epic walk at the start of February last year with little experience of the outdoors, but said all the adventuring he had done, including hunting and gathering his own food and multiple near-death experiences, had now made him at one with nature.

"I feel like I'm a part of a National Geographic show," he said.

"I was a boy and now I'm a man. It's been a real journey of self-discovery."

Mr Yelavich said watching the film Into the Wild, which was about a young American man who lived in the Alaskan wilderness, inspired his wanderlust. His desire to do something that was a world first helped him to decide the adventure he would embark on.

"I wanted to be in the public eye and do something that would put me in the books of great adventurers.

"My ideal life would be continuing to do adventure stuff and starting a TV show around it. I've seen bits of the coastline that only a handful of people have seen."

Mr Yelavich had almost drowned on several occasions and had experienced near-hypothermia.

"Each near-death experience has made me appreciate something in a new way."

He is $6000 short of his goal of raising $30,000 for the Ronald McDonald house.

"I chose to support them because they help whole communities. It's the amazing people I've met who are living in small communities that they help the most."

Mr Yelavich said meeting people had definitely been the highlight of his journey.

"I didn't know how kind and generous people can be. I had strangers use their whole week's paycheque to fill up their car and come and pick me up."

Alone time was his definite lowlight.

"The journey is much more mental than it is physical.

"There's been points where I have wished I hadn't started, but there's never been a point where I've wanted to give up. I tell myself 'this isn't too hard, it's just walking'."

He said he hoped to inspire other people to be adventurous.

"Some people say I'm silly, but I don't think I'm silly. I think it's super smart because it's given me opportunities and insight into life, which I just couldn't have otherwise.

"There's more to life than getting a 9-5 job after school and then working until you retire.

"It's never too late to go out and live your dream. The only thing stopping people is themselves."

He said although he was a man now, he was still a boy at heart.

"I want to live the Peter Pan life by continuing to chase my dreams."

People can follow Brando's journey and contribute at www.supportbrando.co.nz or www.wildboy.co.nz.

 

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