Thrill-seeking American TV presenter Aaron Carotta was in Waitaki over the weekend, filming an episode of Catch And Cook with Adventure Aaron.
The 30-minute feature on the Waitaki District, features Carotta being challenged by Oamaru chef James Glucksman, to track down certain ingredients.
On Sunday, Carotta joined up with Mark Rawson, of True Kiwi NZ Hunts, to catch some venison and with Southern Hunting Adventures for the biggest catch of the challenge – Wallaby.
“That was a 40-minute drive from here at midnight [Sunday] night. We got in at 3am,” he said.
The episode featuring Oamaru and Waitaki is part of the third season of Catch and Cook with Adventure Aaron, which is shot on location for each episode and involves Carotta working with a chef and getting given a list of ingredients he needs to catch for them to cook.
The show follows Carotta with his catches including hunting, fishing and more. The show is filmed and screened worldwide.
“We had a really good showing in the US so I had the opportunity to do 13 more episodes and instead of Food TV, this year we’ve signed on with the bigger network Choice TV,” he said.
“It starts September 29 and it will be what we shot in the US and then this season, which is the world.”
He made sure New Zealand, his favourite country, was on the itinerary of the world episodes.
“Americans were asking me about New Zealand and I said, ‘Well, we’re going to do an American episode where we bring in some Americans and show them the country and at the same time go somewhere I’ve never been’, which is how we ended up here [in Oamaru],” he said.
Oamaru and the Waitaki District offered an ideal filming location, being between Christchurch and Queenstown, on the coast and rich with history.
“For me, the best way to see New Zealand is to drive, so finding good spots like this one was the secret for me,” he said.
The “cool thing” about his Oamaru stop was working with American expat Glucksman.
“[For the last five years] I always felt like the American even though there was such great Kiwi hospitality, but when I started bringing other Americans here and ran into an expat like James it was cool to see that I wasn’t the only one who appreciated New Zealand,” he said.
“That’s what that episode was all about, especially because James and I had no idea how to cook wallaby – that was the best part.”
It’s been a whirlwind New Zealand stop for Carotta and his producer, flying into Auckland, from there to Rotorua, Queenstown, Oamaru and then Christchurch before a 48-hour journey home.
“It’s been nuts the last 72 hours, but it’s been in the works for a year,” he said.
Other episodes will feature countries such as Korea, Australia, Tahiti, Europe and the US.
Tourism Waitaki marketing manager Megan Howell said with the TV show’s worldwide audience, the spin-off for Waitaki was going to be “huge”.
Carotta has more than 50,000 followers on his Facebook Page
In the last five years, he has made his way through 60 countries, sampling and demonstrating some of the world’s most amazing foods.
He continued to knock of a few bucket list adventures while overcoming his dealings with cancer – all of which has now allowed him to give back to others facing similar challenges.
By Rebecca Ryan