As a festival that started small and partly by accident, the NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival has become a Mecca for armchair—and bona fide—adventurers. Tales from hair-rising, adrenaline-fuelled escapades are featured in film and text across one week in late June. Anyone wanting to be thrilled vicariously is welcome on a white knuckle ride by two of the latest adventurers to be announced by organisers.
Ben Kozel dreams up unique adventures, takes them on with his best friends and retells the tales with vivid recollections and a uniquely Australian narrative. His books, including accounts of an improbable journey down the Amazon and rowing through Mongolia and Siberia to the Arctic Ocean, paint an accurate picture of the adventurer and his expeditions.
Ben rafted down the Amazon from its source high in the Andes to its mouth on the Atlantic coast of South America with two friends. They survived storms, tropical diseases, local authorities and some of the fiercest white water on the planet. After 6 months, having travelled 7,000km of the Amazon, they arrived at the Atlantic Ocean.
He then tackled the first source-to-sea descent of the world’s fifth longest river, the Yenisey, which traverses Mongolia and Siberia into the Arctic Ocean. Ben and his teammates, fellow Australian Tim Cope (a past festival guest) and two Canadians, rowed 5,500kms to complete their mission and enter the record books. He will speak at the festival about his two epic journeys.
Bob McKerrow, a mountaineer, polar adventurer, humanitarian, writer and poet, will be speaking at the Book Festival. Bob was born in Dunedin and climbed in the Otago Alps as a teenager, and later extensively in the greater Southern Alps. Bob was a member of a New Zealand Andean expedition in 1968 that climbed in the Cordillera Vilcabamba; he climbed 12 peaks, eight of them first ascents. In 1969-1970 Bob wintered in Antarctica with three other people at Vanda Station; they were the smallest-ever NZ Government wintering over group. He did two major dog sled trips with legendary polar explorer Will Steger in the Arctic, including one to the North Pole.
Bob spent 36 years working for the International Red Cross in conflict situations and in times of major natural disasters, and would regularly take his leave in neighbouring mountain ranges. He lived in Afghanistan for three years from 1993 to 1996 and had many other short assignments there.
Bob has completed the Coast to Coast three times, has completed a sea kayak double crossing of the Cook Strait and, in an attempt to sea kayak the Tasman Sea with Paul Caffyn, was arrested for not having particular radar equipment. He is recognised as a world leader in disaster recovery, was editor of the New Zealand Adventure Magazine in 1989 and 1990, and in his spare time he likes to write.
Bob enjoys writing and has been a regular contributor to the NZ Alpine Journal and a number of magazines. He is the author of three books: Coast to Coast—The Great New Zealand Race; Mountains of our Mind – Afghanistan; and Ebenezer Teichelmann—Pioneer New Zealand mountaineer, explorer, surgeon, photographer and conservationist. Bob is currently writing a new book on mountaineering in South Westland.
The festival runs in Wanaka from June 28 to July 3, Queenstown from July 4 to 6 and Cromwell on July 7. The full programme will be released when general tickets go on sale on June 1 at mountainfilm.nz.