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January 2016 Issue
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No ‘normal life’

Brando Yelavich is planning his next big adventure. Photo: Neil Silverwood

Brando ‘Wildboy’ Yelavich, walked the New Zealand coastline

How hard would it be to spend 18 months of your life undertaking an adventure that captured the imagination of the nation, and then having to settle into ‘normal life’ on your return?

For Brando Yelavich, who scaled pretty much the entire New Zealand coastline in an expedition that gave him national acclaim, he’s found it very hard indeed.

“I’m still struggling getting back into the normal world,” he says, 18 months after completing the challenge. “I don’t think I’ll ever fit back in.”

Initially, his return provided a new set of thrills, with no end of interview requests, people offering him jobs and, ultimately, an offer from Penguin to help document his experiences in a book, Wildboy.

But once the dust had settled, it was hard to know what to do next. “Everyone was offering me jobs but they tended to be things I didn’t want to do,” says the Hahei-based 22-year-old. Brando chose to work in a plant nursery; a job he enjoys but not one that gives the adrenalin fix he needs.

Instead, his head is full of ideas for his next big adventure. “I’d like to be the youngest person to row across the Tasman,” he says. “It has been done before, but the youngest person to do it is 23.”

Yelavich would also like to create the ‘Wildboy Trail’ – his own version of Te Araroa, only heading straight down the middle of the country, following no roads or tracks.

Then there’s his future business plan: using the skills learnt from his coastline expedition to guide others on similar – though far shorter – ‘coasteering’ trips. Coasteering is travel using nothing but the coast – scrambling, swimming, rock hopping and climbing – essentially what Yelavich did for 18 months. “There’s no-one who could say they’re more experienced at coasteering than me,” he jokes.

He’s made a start, scouting a route between Hot Water Beach and Hahei on the Coromandel Peninsula. He’s even taken backpackers from the local hostel on the trip. “It’s called the Forgotten Coast,” he explains. “It’s so unreachable unless you walk it. There’s lots of swimming, big drops, awesome places to jump off into the water.

“Often people freak out at first but by the end of the day they say it was the coolest trip ever.”