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November 2021 Issue
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Absolutely positively wild

Justin Amor’s Just Wild NZ sees him undertake tramping, kayaking and packrafting adventures throughout New Zealand. Photo: Justin Amor

Wellingtonian Justin Amor is filming his outdoor adventures for a new YouTube series that shows viewers how to survive off the land and how to cope with adversity in the hills.

A Wellington man who spends his spare time trapping pests in the hope of reintroducing whio and kiwi into the Tararua Range might seem an unlikely YouTube star. 

But Justin Amor is also a master of the bush, capable of catching trout and eel, eating worms and identifying edible plants. He’s the closest thing New Zealand has to Bear Grylls and he’s using his self-taught bush skills – and learning new ones along the way – to propel him through incredible adventures for his YouTube series Just Wild NZ.

Watch episode one and read our exclusive Q&A below:

What is Just Wild NZ about? 

It’s outdoor adventure with a focus towards the viewer finding the adventurer within – it’s not ‘look at me going from peak to peak’. It’s about bringing out the adventurer in all of us. It’s also about survival, showing what’s possible. Every episode has a twist, something unique and possibly not attempted before. 

What twists are you talking about?

The idea is to perform tasks and while I’m doing them, there’s an end goal; reaching the Tararua ladder, camping on Mitre Peak but without taking any food. In the episode where I walk around the coast of Wellington, I thought food would be easy to catch so the twist on that trip was not taking any drinking water – I converted saltwater into drinking water with my MSR cooker. But I wanted to be truthful to the viewers, so I didn’t drink any water for 24 hours before I started so I could put myself into proper dehydration. I never want to do that again; dehydration is horrible.

You don’t take food so you forage your own – trout, eels, worms. Is it easy to find food?

Yeah, but to be honest you don’t need to find food. The mind is what’s going to kill you in the bush. It’s what’s going to make you incredibly hungry and sad in whatever situation you’re in. You don’t need to eat for days and days. That’s what makes it easy for me. I’m always putting myself in situations way worse than this. 

Do you have a favourite bush food?

I love eel. Cooked over a fire or fried in a pan. And I’m always smashing supplejack. Love supplejack. 

So much of what you’re doing on camera is your first time. What if it goes wrong and you can’t get a meal or you can’t find water?

If it goes wrong it goes wrong. I love that I’m learning as the viewer is and better I make a mistake than the viewer makes a mistake in a worse situation. 

Have you had any scary moments while filming?

I did fall off a ledge. I had just put my GoPro on, did a piece to camera where I said ‘I’ve got to be careful through      this section’, and then took a tumble. I’ve taken a few tumbles and I never really think of it while it’s happening, I’m always completely calm, but when I did the slow- mos and see me engaging my ice axe, it’s so rad. It’s not until I’m back home, watching the footage, that I realise I’m getting nervous watching this. At the time, I’m just focused on the task. I need those falls. It wakes me up.

You’re doing a massive gear giveaway – how can people enter?

It’s incredible. I’m doing 10 prize draws over 10 weeks, giving away over $6000 of adventure gear from the suppliers who are supporting me. It’s all good stuff, gear I love. All you have to do is subscribe on YouTube to Just Wild NZ and then find an Instagram or Facebook post from me about the giveaway and make a comment. That locks you in for 10 draws over 10 weeks. 

Watch all episodes of Just Wild NZ on YouTube