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The modern-day hunter-gatherer living in the wild in New Zealand

Levi Harrison is living wild.

Levi Harrison forages, hunts and fishes for his food and lives in a teepee in the wilderness.

Levi Harrison hasn’t had a hot shower in over a year.

He sleeps on a bed of sticks and straw.

He hunts, fishes and forages about 90 per cent of his food.

And he lives in a teepee with his partner and dog at the edge of a forest at the top of the South Island.

He’s a modern-day hunter-gatherer who’s largely unplugged himself from society to live primitively and closer to nature.

It wasn’t always this way.

Born in Coromandel, Harrison spent most of his life living in an apartment in Stuttgart, Germany, a city of about 635,000 people.

He always felt drawn to the outdoors and spent much of his free time rock climbing, hiking and running barefoot.

“Whenever I had time and I could, I was in nature, but I chose to live in a city and it just felt really wrong,” he says. “I could feel it in myself that I’m fighting against all this noise and all these impressions that I had daily and I just was not relaxed.”

In 2015, Harrison and his then wife decided they wanted to live and raise their children in an intentional community.

They left Germany and returned to Harrison’s homeland before settling in a community at the top of the South Island.

Harrison and his wife separated in 2018, which is what prompted his move to the wild.

“I just recognised that I can either go down the drain now or really change my life in the way I want to,” he says.

It was a gradual transition that started with introducing more wild plants and fungi into his diet, bathing in streams, learning how to hunt with a crossbow and creating friction fire with a bow drill made from sticks and rawhide.

Harrison noticed that his health was improving. Chronic stomach aches that he’d had for about 20 years and dandruff disappeared and he felt stronger and more energised.

He also realised that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was easier than he’d imagined.

It takes him about 10-15 minutes to forage a huge bowl of wild ‘weeds’ each morning and he only needs to go hunting and fishing once a month.

“I think this is a great lifestyle. The money I spend on food is almost nothing and I’m really connected to the land. I know where the different plants grow,” he says.

“Also, I get really healthy stuff. Even the stuff you get in a health food store, there are not the nutrients in there that I find in the wild weeds. They’re just far more nutrient-rich than anything that’s domesticated.”

But the most profound benefit he’s experienced is a deeper connection with nature.

Harrison says he’s had times when he’s felt completely immersed in the natural world, where he’s been acting instinctively without thinking — an experience he describes as “no-mind”. 

“I developed a relationship with nature,” he says. “I simply became an integral part of this network.”

However, while Harrison spends most of his time in the wild, he says he’s “living between worlds”.

He works as a freelance voice actor so he can provide for his family and contribute to the community. He also regularly spends time with his children who live nearby.

But for the past 18 months, he’s mostly been living in his teepee in the wilderness.

Harrison hosts workshops for people who are interested in learning about wild foods, bushcraft and survival skills, and connecting with nature.