Brando Yelavich will be a name familiar to many New Zealanders. Brando was diagnosed with ADHD and Dyslexia at a young age, and as a result, he struggled with traditional learning environments. Feeling directionless, and despondent about his place in life, he made a bold decision to set out into the world on his own and circumnavigate the entire coastline of New Zealand, a feat that had never been accomplished before. Brando set off into the unknown on February 1 2013, thinking it may take him eight or nine months to complete the expedition. Six hundred days and over 8,700kms later he completed his journey and his life was changed forever.
Since achieving that remarkable feat of mental and physical endurance, Brando has dedicated himself to becoming a full-time explorer. He put the icing on the cake of his circumnavigation of New Zealand by completing an expedition around Stewart Island, at the bottom of the South Island, and has ventured to the Himalayas. He is passionate about inspiring others to explore the world around them through school talks and presentations, and his growing online presence. In his own words…
“There’s no right or wrong in adventure. It’s a beautiful way to bring people together and to spread happiness. I want to inspire curiosity and exploration for all of humanity.”
Thirty-year-old Bridget Kruger is no stranger to the great outdoors, having worked for years as an outdoor instructor and adventure therapist all over the world. Bridget divides her home time between Australia and New Zealand, depending on where her work takes her. She has something of a Nansen connection herself – with family based in Norway – where she studied for a semester for a Masters of Trans- Cultural European Outdoor Studies.
Bridget had a life-altering experience while working in Canada as a dog sled guide. She was involved in a serious accident, when a person lost control of their sled and ran her over, leading to a traumatic head injury. Bridget slept for nearly three months and had to regain her short-term memory, the ability to think coherently, as well as the ability to balance properly. Through her long recovery, Bridget found solace in nature. As she puts it…
“There is something about adventuring in nature that ignites the spirit and brings out the best in us.”
Australian Keith Parsons has managed to pack a lot into his twenty-seven years. A skilled photographer and videographer, Keith’s work has taken him all over the world. In between stints in London and Melbourne working as a picture editor for a national media company and a content coordinator for a non-government organisation, he spent a year in sub-Saharan Africa, where he worked as a freelance visual journalist. Keith is an avid endurance runner, mountain biker and all-round outdoor enthusiast.
Coupled with his love of the outdoors is a passion for polar-history, and the exploits of heroic-era explorers like Fridtjof Nansen. Keith describes Nansen’s influence in exploration and beyond…
“Fridtjof Nansen’s original journey is, in my mind, one of the most notable feats of polar exploration, as we know it ushered in a prolonged period of firsts. However, to me Nansen’s political and humanitarian efforts are even greater; resulting in his 1922 Nobel Peace Prize.”
Christchurch-based designer and adventure enthusiast Hollie Woodhouse isn’t one to shy away from an opportunity to explore the world, a fact that’s perhaps best summed up by the name of the magazine she founded in 2015 – ‘Say Yes To Adventure’. Hollie’s thirst for adventure has taken her to the Sahara Desert and the Amazon Jungle, where she competed in endurance events covering over 200km in five days. Back home, Hollie has competed in events including the Coast To Coast and Red Bull Defiance.
Hollie is passionate about inspiring others to get into the great outdoors and give things a go. In addition to Say Yes To Adventure, she is an avid blogger, having written about her travels and adventures for the past five years. As well as this she has shared her stories of exploration and discovery through public talks and presentations. Her ‘say yes’ attitude is what keeps pushing her to face new challenges. The way Hollie looks at it…
“I don’t want to look back on my time and regret not having given every opportunity that comes before a go.”
Nigel is the Executive Director of the Antarctic Heritage Trust. The Trust cares on behalf of the international community for the first expedition bases left in Antarctica’s Ross Sea Region. This includes the iconic expedition bases left by expeditions led by Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton and Sir Edmund Hillary. Nigel conceived and has overseen the Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project – the world’s largest cold-climate heritage conservation project. He has led expeditions to Antarctica for the last 17 seasons. With a background in mountaineering and skiing, he has skied the Shackleton route across South Georgia Island, skied to the North Pole and climbed Mt Scott in Antarctica.
Nigel is passionate about sharing the legacy of early polar exploration with a new generation of young explorers, with the hope that they will in turn share their own experiences to inspire others.
“All of our Inspiring Explorers will be working hard to share their story of the Greenland expedition. Through this we hope to inspire others to get out, explore and make the most of the incredible world we live in.”
The team will be guided on the expedition by Ousland Polar Exploration guide Bengt Rotmo. Bengt has completed many crossings of Greenland himself. Bengt is an IPGA certified guide, dog musher, journalist and adventurer and AHT is very excited to have his expertise on our expedition.
Ousland Polar Exploration was founded by Norwegian explorer Borge Ousland, a legend of polar exploration. He first crossed Greenland in 1986, something that had only been done by a handful of people since it was first crossed by Nansen in 1888. He has completed solo expeditions to both the South and North Pole, as well as solo crossings of the Arctic and the Antarctic. National Geographic Adventure referred to him as “arguably the most accomplished polar explorer alive!”
“All of us love to explore, but most of all we want to pass on our knowledge of winter living and share this beautiful polar world with others.”