I was privileged to be asked by my good, long-time friend, Dave, to help out in the making of a hunting movie to be filmed in both the south and north islands of New Zealand. The company making the movie is Swedish based and makes red dot sights for rifles, pistols and shotguns. Aimpoint.com has made hunting movies in Europe, Africa and Australia and now wants to add New Zealand to the list. The first part of the movie is to be filmed in the Mckenzie country in the South Island.
Thursday 11 April 2019
Leaving Auckland I drove to Ohakune where I meet up with a bunch of blokes who had been training with my friend, Todd, from Texas, on long-range shooting. After a good night socialising we headed back to Dave’s place. His mum, Margaret, lives just across the road and kindly gave Todd and I a place to stay for the next few days.
Friday 12 August 2019
Dave went off to work, and mid-morning Todd and I headed over to a friend’s farm at Horopito. Brett, formerly from Florida, bought a farm here a few years ago, recently converted part of it to dairy and now boasts the highest milking shed in NZ. Visiting Brett were a couple of Aussies, Ray and his son, Jamie. Many years ago Ray, a dentist and keen hunter, couldn’t get a decent spotlight so he started making his own. Lightforce.com became a large company, which then led Ray into making telescopic sights for rifles Nightforce.com. are now some of the best telescopic sights in the world, in use by both the military and civilians. A local fencer and keen hunter, Andy, also joined us. We spent a very interesting and relaxing day sitting around chatting, listening to and telling stories about all sorts of things.
Saturday 13 April 2019
We headed down to Taihape and met up with a local fishing guide called Russell. From there we headed southeast until we reached the Gentle Annie windy road that runs all the way to Napier. Crossing the Rangatiki River we dropped Todd and Jamie off with Russell for a spot of fishing. We then carried on up the road and turned onto a farm track, which lead us up into the hills and over some very pretty country. Andy used to fence on this place, hence the access. In fact if one wants access to some good hunting spots get to know the local fencer. Right at the back of the farm, at close to 4000ft above sea level, we dismounted the Toyota and headed on foot a short distance to a spot overlooking a large valley. We sat there until daylight began to fade, with Andy using a bit of polythene pipe to imitate the roar of a stag, hoping one would come out of the scrub to challenge us. No luck but in a clearing on a ridge over a km away a stag and a group of hinds grazed, well out of reach as the scrub was too thick for us to get through in the time we had. We headed back, meeting up with the fisherman on the way. Jamie had a fish but Todd had let the big one get away.
Sunday 14 April 2019
After a relaxing morning Andy turned up with the crew and we headed out the back of Raetehi along a road that wound its way alongside Manganuioteao river.
Eventually we arrived at a farm owned by a nice chap called George and his wife Natasha. We mounted a munger of four wheeler bikes and headed up the road to shoot some goats, which pose a real problem for the farmers around here. Heading up a track alongside a creek we soon encountered a mob of goats with Ray getting stuck in and knocking over several. We encountered another couple of mobs and as we were about to leave some were spotted on a cliff about a km away. They escaped but only just. Back on the bikes we headed up to the other end of the farm and up a track through some bush, which at the top opened out with a valley on each side. Leaving the bikes we walked up the hill to to a good lookout place. We lay for some time watching both red and fellow deer feeding as the light was fading. Ronnie, who was helping out on the farm, Todd, Jamie and I continued on further up the hill while the others collected the bikes and drove via a track to the top. On the very top of the hill a new hut with stunning panoramic views was nearly complete. We all admired the views in the fading light before heading back to the house via a different route in the darkness. A couple of beers and another day on the central plateau was over. By the way Andy had also done fencing for George’s father over the years
Monday and Tuesday 15/16 April 2019
Todd and I headed off to Palmerston North, where Todd ran some training for a group of soldiers. Monday evening we paid a visit to Dan Hardy’s gun manufacturing factory. Dan, an ex army armourer, has built up a good business making suppressors for rifles and recently moved into manufacturing rifles for hunting and long-range shooting. Ray, Jamie and Andy had also driven down for a visit. After the tour we headed to a local restaurant for a meal and a yawn.
Wednesday 17 April 2019
Having driven back to Dave’s place last night we loaded up the red Hilux Dave had borrowed from a mate and began our journey south. We made a brief stop on the outskirts of Wellington to see my long=time friend and original karate instructor, Dick, who has been suffering ill health for the last year or so. Catching the ferry to Picton we stayed at the Art Deco Apartment which was outstanding.
Thursday 18 April 2019
We headed south stopping at The Store for breakfast. This place is situated at Clarence, about an hour south of Blenheim and has great food and stunning scenery. The road south of here was closed for about a year after the Kaikoura earthquake and in many places is still under repair hence there are lots of stops for roadworks. In spite of this we made good time, enjoying the stunning scenery down the coast. With a bit of time up our sleeve I had a surprise planned for Todd and Dave having got a deal on a whale watching trip.
The Kaikoura Whale Watching was very well organised. After a briefing lecture we mounted a bus and were driven to a new marina south of the town. It was well set up with four berths for the boats including refuelling gear. Motoring along at 50kph we spotted various birds including many large albatross. Eventually in the distance the spout of a sperm whale is spotted and we race towards it as do a helo, a plane and another boat. These massive creatures only surface for about 10 minutes at a time before descending to the depths of the ocean for up to an hour. The boat has a sonar that can hear the whales in the depths and know by the sounds they are making when they are about to surface. All too soon the massive body tipped forward and he headed to the dark depths. The boat headed south, closer to the coast where dolphins performed for us as though directed by the crew. Both Hectors and common dolphins occupy these waters.
Back on the road we continued south, passing through many more road works, the road crews – particularly the lollipop guys and gals, are the most friendly I have ever experienced, all waving and smiling at every vehicle that passes. Many parts of the road have been rebuilt and portals on railway tunnels extended to protect the lines from future rock falls.
We arrive at Joel’s place at West Melton in the evening. Joel is a gun dealer and former soldier who we have known for some years. Steiger Sports is supplying the Norwegian Atac suppressors we are to use next week. We also have to collect the guns, which have been sent down from Auckland. It was important we got all this sorted before the long weekend.
Friday 19 April 2019
We headed south to Pleasant Point, the Canterbury Plains once almost barren are now largely green pastures with many farms running dairy cows; the sheep have almost disappeared. We stopped the night at my long-time good friend Don and Ngaire’s place and did some more preparation for the coming week. Don was away working in Australia and Ngaire visiting friends.
Saturday 20 April 20019
Up early we headed to Albury then headed west up a long shingle road to the foothills of the Hunter Hills and a shooting range called Sparrow hawk. There an ex army officer and former winner of the Queen’s Medal for shooting runs, on the family farm, a number of shooting ranges. Here a number of long-range shooters had gathered from around NZ for a seminar to be run by Todd on long-range shooting. At around 7am Todd began his talk which ran until lunch time. There was a lot to cram in over such a short period. After lunch we headed into the hills where Nick had set up targets ranging from 400 to 1200 meters. With a 20 plus kph wind blowing it gave all attending a good opportunity to put into practice what they had learnt in the morning. All too soon the day drew to a close and we made our way back to Pleasant Point, hoping to stop for a beer at Cave but the pub was closed as wass the one at Pleasant Point. Thirsty we headed on into Timaru where dined and quenched our thirst at great little restaurant on the bay hill.
Sunday 21 April 2019
We headed up to Tekapo, Pukaki, Twizel and Omarama to the Lindis Pass, then onto Wanaka. The scenery along this journey is truly stunning especially with the blue sky and surrounding snow capped mountains. Todd’s wife Shannon was there to meet us in Wanaka, where we enjoyed a late lunch at the Speights Ale House. Leaving Todd and Shannon to begin their holiday we then went a few doors down to a cafe to catch up with Hamish and Shannon and their two boys. Hamish is a tandem parachute instructor at the local airport and Shannon the fitness coach for the women’s NZ rugby league team.
Dave and I then headed off to stay with John and Lesley, good long-time friends who live mainly in Sydney and have a holiday house in Wanaka. In their garden they have a life sized sculpture made of old fencing standards of the Haast egale, which died out some 600 years ago. We had a great evening catching up dining and drinking red wine.
Monday 22 April 2019
After a great breakfast we headed off back over the Lindis pass and up to Glentanner Station at Mt Cook. Here Ross and Helen, also long-time good friends, had invited Dave and I to stay at their house while we carry out the guiding and organising of the Aimpoint group. Ross and Helen returned from the Fairlie Show that evening and we spent the evening catching up and discussing the logistics of the guiding and hunting over the coming week.
Tuesday 23 April 2019
Final preparations were made for the arrival of the Aimpoint team tomorrow including meetings with Troy, the lead pilot from the Helicopter Line, which is based at Glentanner Park across the road from the Station. I also gave Ross a hand to bale some wool and clean up the woodshed in preparation for the shearers, who are arriving Friday to crutch the several thousand sheep on the farm.
Wednesday 24 April 2019
Dave and I sorted out the guns and promotional stuff we had brought down from Christchurch, laying everything out in the woolshed and checking we had everything we needed. That done we locked the guns away for the night and went to meet the team and show them to their accommodation at Glentanner Park. Dave and I then served the casserole we had prepared earlier in the day. When I say we, I pealed the spuds and Dave pretty much did the rest. We cooked and ate in the BBQ shed that was built last year, a great facility normally closed in the winter but opened up for us.
Ronnie, Erik, Magnus Rob, Torbjorn, Greg and Dave
Thursday 25 April 2019
Up early, we headed to Twizel for the Anzac Day Dawn service, held in the street in front of the RSA. After breakfast at a local cafe we headed back to the woolshed at Glentanner to to sort out the kit and attach the Aimpoint sights, which Erik the international sales manager had brought with him. There are lots of guns. Tikka, Sako and Beretta are all sponsors so we have 2 x .22 rifles, 4 x 7mm Remington Magnums, 1x 300 Winchester Magnum, 3 semi-auto magnum Beretta shotguns and one under and over shotgun. All the sights fitted, we headed to the range, complete with bench rest and targets out to 600 yards. I built this a few years ago during one of my many visits to Glentanner. Several hours was spent making sure all the sights were zeroed for each gun. During this time our first cameraman, Greg, turned up from Australia.
Zerroing over he headed over to the helicopter hangar for a briefing and weigh in. Troy, the lead pilot, gave us a very through briefing of entering and exiting the machine in both the flat and the hills. It’s critical this is done properly. Dave and I were put in charge of opening and closing the doors plus passing in and out guns, packs etc. We had a few practice runs at loading and unloading with some humour thrown in.
Then it was off to the scales. Magnus, who was in 2008 the world’s strongest man at 155kgs has dropped down to around the 130kg mark now. His brother, Torbjorn, formerly Sweden’s strongest man, weighed in at 116kg, which made the rest of us feel quite small. it was decided that the Squirrel help could only take five instead of six passengers, with the little guy Greg in the front.
Friday 26 April 2019
It was an early start as we wanted the helo airborne at first light. After a good breakfast Dave and I headed off in the dark for the 90-minute drive to Lilybank station, which is at the top of Lake Tekapo on the east side. At the top of the road we had to drive through the Macaulay River to get to the farm. We arrived just after the team, who have flown over. There is also a sleek-looking, black Hughes 500c parked in the paddock, flown by Mark, who is based in Fairlie. Many years ago I dated a girl who worked up here teaching the then farmer’s kids, who it turns out Jonhnny, the farm manager, who was originally from around here, knew. After a bit of banter and a few laughs we got on with the briefing on the mornings hunt.
Sunday 28 April 2019
Monday 29 April 2019
Tuesday 30 April
Wednesday 1 May 2019
Thursday 2 May 2019