This Easter break, a host of things all came together at once. I needed a day free of responsibilities, Jodi didn’t mind if I had a day free of responsibilities, and I found a place to get some mud on the tyres which didn’t involve an overnight stay halfway across the country. Victory.

Journey to the Centre of the North Island

Researching good places to take your 4WD off road, two places come up over and over again. One of them is the centre of the North Island, which is exactly as you’d expect - the geographical centre of the North Island, in Pureora Forest Park, just the other side of Taupō. So I loaded up the Jeep, grabbed my friend Diego, and dragged him off on a mission.

I had expected this thing to be two or three times taller than it was

The track we followed was a simple gravel road - with a few excursions into the bush to hunt some additional mud - and then an extremely trying hike from the car park, through miles of bush and the dense and almost impassib- okay, fine, it’s literally 2 minutes from the car park.

Serious hikers

During all this, I gave him the world’s fastest drone piloting lesson - pan slower than you think, don’t move the gimbal while recording cos it never looks right, and cinema mode won’t keep up with the Jeep, so mash that right stick forwards.

Diego had a go driving the Jeep while I flew the drone into a tree (😬) and we generally got everything muddy. No getting stuck, no damage sustained to any of the hardware, and a good time all around.

Mud. Tyres. Wish I’d moved a foot to the left to get the damn badge in as well 🤦‍♀️

So what did we learn?

  • The GoPro battery life is terrible, so be selective - you can’t just try and run it constantly!
  • The GoPro mount can and will get whacked by a tree and render 70% of your footage unusable if you attach it to the side of the truck while you’re bashing through the bush
  • Shooting everything in RAW makes the colour grading process a lot bloody easier, so don’t forget to turn that on if you’re also using your iPhone for shots

As we’re approaching winter, I expect that future missions will be more Jeep-y than anything else, but I’m really hoping I can get one more boat trip before the relentless rain starts. Wish me luck! 🚤