Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon

gabe 1
Gabe and Riley, victorious!

Could you survive in New Zealand’s most rugged wilderness with only your best friend for company, and two elite trackers on your tail?

That’s exactly what Otago tauira Gabe Ross and his best friend Riley Meason, both 19 at the time, had to ask themselves last year when they applied to be on the first season of reality show Tracked, hosted by British celebrity Vinnie Jones.

It turns out they could! TV screens across the nation beamed out their joyful faces on Tuesday night as Jones announced that, after eight tense episodes, they had bagged the $100,000 prize.

On the show, Jones announced gruffly, “well done, well done, well done - you made it,” as he hugged the pair at the final extraction point.

Gabe, a third year BCom tauira, studying marketing and entrepreneurship, said it was the experience of a lifetime.

“I don’t think anything could have motivated us harder than Vinnie’s hands in the air and that box sitting up there [with $100,000 inside].

“It's been a pretty crazy roller coaster. It's definitely the most incredible opportunity we have ever had.”

gabe 2
These two 20 year olds are planning to invest their winning into their content creation brand The Weekend Mish.

For the last few years, Gabe and Riley have been putting their entrepreneurial skills to the test with a content creation business called The Weekend Mish.

They make short form videos about hunting, fishing, and trekking in the great outdoors.

Gabe says they want to use their winnings to turn The Weekend Mish into a full-time job, hoping to score a TV show off the back of their newfound fame.

It helped grow my friendship with Riley, he says.

“It was amazing that we didn’t have any squabbles or arguments during the process - the whole thing just solidified that we are on the same page with everything: values, trust, communication and whatnot.”

“We feel ready to tackle any kind of physical or mental challenge together now.”

Juggling academics and being on an international reality show would seem unattainable for some, but not for Gabe.

He says the Business School was really supportive and thinks maybe it was because the show tied in so well with his entrepreneurial endeavors.

“For a term I just took a few less papers, and my tutors and lecturers were really good about it. They just let me do everything remotely so on the days off from filming I did all my assignments.

“I would find somewhere quiet, put my headphones in and sit down for a few hours of work on the travel days too!”

gabe 4
The snow, wind, rain and New Zealand bush were all part of the challenges these contestants faced.

The TV show airing internationally was another big incentive for them to push themselves, Gabe says.

“One of our biggest drivers was representing New Zealand on an international stage - and being Kiwis, we definitely had a competitive edge.”

“We would have found it so much harder being dropped somewhere in Australia or in a desert - knowing the native bush and how long it takes to travel through beech trees or monkey scrub and the ponga forests helped us a lot.”

Getting outdoors and into the bush is a key part of Gabe’s life, he says, and he thinks everyone should get out there as much as they can.

Anyone could do it anytime.

“We all have to start somewhere.”

gabe 3
Rugged up and ready to win!

Kōrero by Internal Communications Adviser Alice Billington

EQUIS logoAACSB logoAAPBS logoGlobal Business School Network logoFair Trade CertifiedPIM logoQS Stars logo.World Leisure Organisation logo

Back to top